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Travel future: My local travel summer

View across the Cotswolds from Birdlip, Gloucestershire

I got an email from a reader this week asking about travel in England – did I have any recommendations or posts she could look at? Looking back through my old posts, I found a few about London, some from weekend trips I’ve taken around the country. But I’ve almost nothing about the place I spend the most of my time – my home in Cheltenham. As well as the city itself this area is surrounded by pretty Cotswold villages in one direction and the gorgeous countryside of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire in the other, plus is within easy reach of historic cities like Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon. But after living here for two years I’ve hardly seen any of it. Any spare time I’ve had I’ve used to travel further afield and neglected what’s on my doorstep. So this summer I’ll be trying to see a bit of my own backyard, and sharing it with you. Some of the places I want to see are totally new to me. Others I haven’t been to for years. And others I know well but have never written about. Here’s what’s on my local travel summer list so far…

Broadway Tower in the Cotswolds

Broadway Tower at sunset – photo credit Stuart Richards

Exploring the Cotswolds

The heart of the tourist trail, the tourist buses have put me off a bit in the past but being only a few miles away there’s no excuse not to go and see what the Cotswolds have to offer. There are the postcard-perfect villages like Bibury with its row of thatched cottages. Historic houses from Chedworth Roman Villa to the abandoned Gothic Woodchester Mansion. Gardens from the manicured Hidcote Manor to the trees of Westonbirt Arboretum. Plus there are plenty of photo opportunities – like the dramatic Broadway Tower perched on a hilltop – and enough tea and cake shops to keep me stuffed for weeks.

Cotswold stone houses

The classic honey-coloured stone villages in the Cotswolds

Revisiting Oxford

I lived in Oxford for two years but have hardly been back since, and have never written about it – not least because I seem to have not taken a single photo of the city the whole time I was living there. So I plan to go back and put that right, revisiting some old haunts (er mainly various pubs and cocktail bars), doing the touristy things (touring the Oxford Colleges, punting on the river, dodging the cyclists) and trying out a few more unusual things (ghost walks, looking at shrunken heads in the Pitt Rivers Museum). I’m also planning to tick something off my wish list that I’ve wanted to do ever since I lived there – stay in a converted prison cell at the city’s luxurious Malmaison hotel.

Punts on the River Cherwell in Oxford

Punts on the Cherwell in Oxford – photo credit Dave Morris

Introducing Herefordshire and the Forest of Dean

This is where I grew up so is the area I know best, but it’s not an area that very many people know much about. Much less visited than the Cotswolds, it’ll be interesting to compare the two. I spent many Saturdays in the Forest of Dean as a kid but haven’t been to places like Puzzlewood (an ancient woodland where TV shows like Merlin were filmed) and the Sculpture Trail (a woodland trail dotted with modern art sculptures) for years, so it must be time for a return trip. Herefordshire and Gloucestershire are also home to some great local produce, so the plan is to sample a bit of it with a tour of a vineyard, brewery and cider orchard all within a few miles of each other.

Symonds Yat viewpoint over the Wye Valley in Herefordshire

Symonds Yat viewpoint over the Wye Valley in Herefordshire

So those are my local travel summer plans. Have you visited anywhere in this area that I shouldn’t miss, or heard of somewhere you’d like to read about?

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31 Comments Post a comment
  1. notgiuseppe #

    As funny as it seems, many of us disregard the beauty that’s right in front of us and go for the glamour and glitz that’s offered elsewhere around the world. It’s a shame really as our hometown can hold little gems that we’ve always overlooked. I did a blog post recently called ‘Your Hometown’ about exploring what’s offered to us where we live. People agreed with me that they’d never even thought about taking time out to explore where they grew up. I know it’s sad, but you’re not alone on this!

    July 1, 2013
    • It’s so true, the closest places are usually the ones you leave the longest to see. Places further away seem so much more exotic and exciting than where you live, but they have their own charms – and one person’s mundane is another person’s exotic!

      July 3, 2013
    • I agree that most of us do oversee the beauty right ahead and keep searching for it far off.

      July 4, 2013
    • notgiuseppe #

      It’s a shame this happens to often as well.

      July 4, 2013
  2. I can’t wait to get back to Britain and get away from the crowds in London and see the real England. The country side is so beautiful! Lovely pictures!

    July 1, 2013
    • London does get all the attention when it comes to travelling around England, there’s so much more to see though and hope to highlight a few of them here!

      July 3, 2013
  3. Sounds like fun! I’m hoping to do something similar this summer, and see some more of Scotland.

    July 1, 2013
    • Don’t get me started on how little I’ve seen of Scotland, and even Wales and that’s only a few miles down the road! Will start with this bit of England though and work my way out!

      July 3, 2013
  4. Such a good idea! It was only when I returned from my RTW trip that I suddenly saw home through ‘traveller’s eyes’ and realised how lovely it was. Since being back I’ve tried to make more of an effort to get out and about and see what’s on my doorstep. Looking forward to reading about your trips:)

    July 1, 2013
    • That’s so true, I did the same with London after my RTW trip and was much better at being a tourist there as all my friends who came to stay wanted to see all the sights. About time I made more of an effort around Cheltenham though and looks like there’s plenty to keep me occupied!

      July 3, 2013
  5. I can say “not guilty” on this one, Lucy. (with a smug smile) I do shout out for the north east, but I spend more time there than abroad, so it’s not surprising.
    I can only remember one proper visit to the Cotswolds, when I was a girl, and as you say “tourist buses” were a turn off. But the stone is such a pretty colour and you must be able to find some slightly off the beaten track villages?
    Oxford I spent just half a day in (maybe on the same trip), and would love to see more. And yes, please show me Cheltenham and take me on that sculpture trail. It’s only fair- you’ve seen my neighbourhood. 🙂

    July 1, 2013
    • You do put me to shame on the local travel Jo, I know a lot more about you’re part of the world than I did before, so it’s only right I return the favour! We’re within about 40 mins of lots of the Cotswold villages so should be able track down some of the more unspoilt ones.

      July 3, 2013
  6. I used to live nearby, I love The Rollright Stones near Long Compton on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border is very cool. A ancient stone circle, a bit hippy and very chilled.

    July 1, 2013
    • Sounds good, thanks for the tip, I will go and check it out.

      July 3, 2013
    • enjoy! I’m going to visit the stones this summer too 🙂

      July 4, 2013
  7. I’m excited to hear/see more of these posts! I am in love with England (I studied there for a few months in 2011), so I’m thrilled you’ve decided to make these travel plans!

    July 2, 2013
    • Thanks – I have a long list to start working through but hope I can find some gems, just need the summery weather to go with it now!

      July 3, 2013
  8. This is definitely true! I live just outside of Newbury in Berkshire, and last year I moved to Leicester for university. Only since i’ve been away from my country digs have I realised how beautiful and spacious it was, and just how much I miss it! I try and make the most of home when I’m here now, going places I would have disregarded before!

    July 3, 2013
    • Going away from home really does help you appreciate it more when you get back. I lived in London for years and always had to come back to Herefordshire for a dose of fresh air and countryside every few months!

      July 4, 2013
  9. Lucy, you just brought back my memories in England during my 18 months stay. I simply love the landscape of the country. Because i was studying and had my own limitations, i could not explore more of the place. But I have to say Oxford is one of my favorite places, whilst Isle of Wight is the best place i have visited in England and probably will remain. I wish I could go back to the country to see more of it. You could visit my blog to see a small write up on Oxford.

    July 4, 2013
    • Glad to bring back some good memories and hope to bring back some more when I get to writing up about Oxford. From your post it looks like you saw a good amount of the city in a short time! Just hope I get some good weather for the photos.

      July 4, 2013
    • I am sure you will Lucy! I will wait to see more of Oxford and England that I missed.

      July 4, 2013
  10. Reblogged this on Continental Breakfast and commented:
    Excellent post from On the Luce highlighting the fact that sometimes we’re so keen to go out and see the world, we forget what’s on our doorstep.

    On moving back to Manchester after living abroad, I was adamant I would see more of the North West and the wider UK – I bought the Great Britain guidebook and managed trips to Edinburgh and Chester, before I lost my enthusiasm. This post has gone part-way to rekindling it.

    Here’s to a very British summer!

    July 5, 2013
    • Good luck for your local travels too, and lets hope the sun lasts! Once I’ve seen a bit more of this area I will have to try and see a bit more of the north west too – my brother and best friend both live in Manchester so I’ve been there a lot but rarely get out of the city.

      July 9, 2013
  11. Hello, I’ve recently started blogging about Swindon, Wiltshire. A town much maligned in my opinion. I’ve lived here for twenty years and have, since starting the blog, started to notice things more.

    I’m a mature student doing Eng Lang/Lit and when I go back in September for my final year I’m doing a travel writing module – not because I expect to be a travel writer but just because I thought it would be different. I’m thinking of doing some sort of travelogue on Swindon for part of my coursework which was one of the reasons for starting the blog – to amass material that might be useful.

    July 13, 2013
    • Having a blog really does give you a reason to seek out the interesting things when you travel, whether it’s far away or close to home. Good luck with your local blogging and will be interested to see what you find around Swindon, it’s not far from me in Cheltenham but I’ve never gone much further than the train station there!

      July 14, 2013
  12. I love these pics, and ur blog.

    Following u right now 🙂

    July 17, 2013
    • Thanks, hope to have lots more photos and articles about this part of the world by the end of the summer!

      July 18, 2013
  13. fromonetomany #

    Nice pictures; I love the image of the tower.

    July 23, 2013
    • It’s a really interesting building isn’t it? I’m waiting for the perfect sunny day to go and get lots of shots so hope to have a post all about it coming up soon.

      July 24, 2013

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