The Cotswolds is every Jane Austen Village, Bronte Sisters novel, Downton Abbey, episode come to life. While Oxford was the city we were visiting, we were just too close to the Cotswolds and more importantly to a slice of Downton Abbey therefore we decided to make a day of it. While when we had planned out holiday Highclere Castle was not open for a visit, but a lot of the show has been shot in a lot of villages in the Cotswolds. One such village was Swinbrook.
If offbeat, and unique things to do is high on your list then do read on. We made our way to Burford which is regarded often as the gateway to the Cotswolds. We took a bus from Oxford to Burford. The medieval village is beautiful, retains a lot of old world charm, the stone houses, the river and the shopping. The little village had some interesting vintage stores, where one could buy wool, books and even cheese.
My favorite however was Huffkins. Their speciality is the Lardy Cake. I still dream of it, and I have tasted nothing like it. Enjoyed with a hot cup of tea, the lardy cake is is an English Tea Bread, that is generously enriched with dry fruit, sugar and of course the key ingredient lard. While it sounds like a blob of fat settled on your hips, this is one of those dishes where the calories are worth it.
While this was a pitstop our final destination was to be Swinbrook and more specifically Swan Inn. This was where lady Sybil’s elopement with Branson was shot. Therefore the Downton Abbey connection. Also the gorgeous inn has a world class restaurant which we wanted to visit. Our plan was to take a cab from Burford and back. Well these ambitious cab plans were laughed off, by the tourist office who said that we must Walk down. Yes – Walk down since the village has no cabs. So be prepared for this when you visit the Cotswold. It would have been a lovely idea, except it was a cold windy day in the Cotswolds. 6 degrees!
We decided to do what any self respecting heroine in a Jane Austen novel would do – and walked. Best decision we ever made and one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life. We did not see a soul for miles, well we heard some hunting dogs bark (that was scary) . But I am going to let these pictures do the talking. It is a 2.4 Mile walk each way and honestly I would not have enjoyed it as much any other way.
Well the village was less commercial and a lot more quaint than Burford. This was the epitome of a sleepy village. We had reached around lunch time, and we did not see any one in the village at all, till we reached what seemed like the centre of the buzz. Some snippets of the village below, so that you get an idea of the pristine gorgeousness I speak of.
Swan Inn and Lunch
Swan Inn, had a fabulous vibe to it. Very elite, everyone was talking quietly and it seemed like the noisiest thing in the restaurant was the clinking of wine glasses. Worked for me, we shared a wholesome meal. Arjun had steak, while I enjoyed a Quinoa salad, fresh veggies with feta and a red onion and orange dressing. The piece de resistance for me was the dessert which was the Yorkshire Rhubarb and berry compote, fool sable breton. Not a chocolate aficionado when it comes to dessert, I loved the difference in flavour and texture with this one.
All in all, our trip to the Cotswolds was barely a teaser of what glory a full fledged holiday there can be. This is the most that we could fit in, in one day but it has certainly whet our appetite for a longer haul – hopefully sooner rather than later.