The Cotswolds … a bucolic rural idyll, where time appears to have stood still for centuries. Stretching from Chipping Camden in the north to Bath in the south, and covering 790 square miles, this is the largest of the thirty-four 'Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty' in England. Since 1966 this special designation has ensured that the land is protected by conserving and enhancing its natural beauty, its landform and geology, plants, animals and the rich history of human settlement.
A stretch of English countryside in tune with nature, which is in truth a cultural landscape, created by man: from the salt road network carved through the Cotswold hills predating the Romans, to the ‘ridge and furrow’ agriculture of Medieval England giving way to the extraordinary expansion of the wool trade and the lesser known impact of silk and tobacco trades. It is agriculture and industry that has shaped the character of the Cotswolds; the six thousand miles of dry-stone walling (longer than the Great Wall of China) bear testament to this.
In recent years eco-tourism has soared in popularity, highlighting the impact of the travel industry on less well-protected environments than ours. Quality experiential trips, focussing on nature without deleterious impact on communities or the environment, have become aspirational. ‘Tread lightly’ is the mantra … equally important when considering a break in the British countryside.
The winter landscape of the Cotswolds is far from desolate; a frosty winter walk guarantees sightings of wildlife in the fields, woodlands and along the riverways; sheep of course and game – both the feathered and furred varieties - are a part of this working landscape, while rich populations of birds of prey are evidence of a thriving eco system. Walking out on a winter's evening is a real treat, 'bat corridors' are busy at dusk and you will hear the sounds of owls communicating through the woodlands; and with so little light polution, it is the perfect for star-gazing. Caring for this very special place is not only the responsibility of the Cotswold Conservation Board and Natural England ... everyone living, working and visiting bears some responsibility for preserving it.
So, if you choose Thyme’s very English version of ‘barefoot luxury’, this type most definitely welly-clad, we hope that starting to explore the Cotswolds from our thoughtfully managed estate and farm will help shape your experience of the countryside; helping you appreciate the link between your travel experiences and the people, flora and fauna that not only surround you but make it possible in the first place.