A Week in the Cotswolds Starting With its Beer

A Week in the Cotswolds Starting With its Beer
Before this housesit we’d visited the Cotswolds only once, briefly and for a very specific purpose… Beer.
Very British, don’t you think?
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But we didn’t come here for any old beer, no. The Hook Norton Brewery is one of a kind, a stand alone example of a traditional Victorian tower brewery. It’s a tower because back in the 1800s you had to use gravity rather than machinery to make your brew.
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Hook Norton Brewery - the cotswolds
Hook Norton Brewery
In 1856 Hook Norton labelled their first ever creation as “Brew number 1” and this form of record keeping has continued to the present day. Recent award winning ales such as “Flagship” and “Old Hooky” have brew numbers in the 800s.
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By painstaking efforts of restoration and maintenance the Hook Norton Brewery offers a tour that allows you to watch todays beer being manufactured in a historical setting. It’s so authentic that it’s the only remaining steam engine in the country being used for its original purpose (the steam engine was installed in 1899 to pump water from the well below).
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I only begin with this story because it’s one that I feel symbolises the entire Cotswolds region. Great Britain’s largest Area of Outstanding Beauty is a place that has changed little while the centuries have passed, a place stooped in history and it’s inhabitants are a peculiar sort, more willing to preserve than advance.
Hook Norton Brewery - the cotswolds
The Gristmill used to crush the malt
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Here’s a few more examples from the Costwolds:

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– The Old Mill at Lower Slaughter, one of the most idyllic villas in the Cotswolds, has suspended traditional in time. 1958 might be the last date of flour production but this site has recorded a mill since the Doomsday Book of 1086. Today it’s a museum with authentic milling stones and machinery on display, and there are plans to reignite this ancient machinery.
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The mill and lower slaughter - the costwolds
The mill and Lower Slaughter
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– The White Hart Royal Hotel in Morton-in-Marsh has barely adjusted a beam since King Charles I sought refuge here after the battle of Marston Moor in 1644. A copy of the King’s unpaid bill is framed in the entrance lobby… seriously, who would charge a king on a mission?
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– The Rollright Stones complex in Long Compton has been preserved since the Stone (Neolithic) and Bronze Ages. Nobody knows much about these megalithic monuments except that it consists of three parts, a 5000 year old burial, a 3000 year old stone circle and a solitary large rock erected more recently BC known as the King Stone.

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The Rollright Stones complex in Long Compton - the costwolds
Part of the Rollright Stones complex in Long Compton

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– The Castle Inn still oversees the fields where the Battle of Edgehill took place. Marking the start of a civil war it was here that King Charles I of England raised his royal standard (signalling his need for support) in 1642. Today, it’s a fantastic view.
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Castle Inn over the Battle of Edgehill - the costwolds
View from the Castle Inn over the Battle of Edgehill

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Some days we succumbed to staying indoors, choosing to spend time with our two burmese cats. This was easy as Sophie and Ollie were the friendliest felines on Earth. Some days we filled our backpacks with snacks and took off hiking. On others, we drove out of our home in Shipston-on-Stour and pottered between ancient stone villages and stunning English countryside.
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Prue’s birthday greeted us during this week, so I planned a perfect picnic at Bourton-on-the-Water. I knew that it had been repeatedly voted as England’s prettiest village but I didn’t line up all of my facts. It was one of those rare scorching days in April, nearly 20degrees (yes that’s scorching for us)… and a Saturday at that! Obviously every man and his dog would be hurling themselves full-throttle out into the sunshine, bearing shoulders and seeking a beer garden. But I went blindly ahead with my plan only to land us in a mosaic of people, heavily condensed buses and crammed riverside banks. The stone bridges playfully crossing the River Windrush were chock-a-block but we walked on through, finally finding ourselves upriver of the perfect village and in a secluded spot. After a picnic of local cheeses, chutneys and olives we returned back to Bourton-on-the-Water wanting to get in on the fun. Sun-soaking, discretely drinking a Guinness in plastic cups, people watching and listening to a guitar was bliss.
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How very British of us!
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Some more images from a week in the Cotswolds:

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.Scones in the Cotswolds
Tea, scones and clotted cream with the family, Morton-in-Marsh
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 .main square of Stow-on-the-Wold, the cotswolds
The crooked main square of Stow-on-the-Wold
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the cotswolds
Picnic seekers
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Bourton-on-the-Water, the cotswolds
Bourton-on-the-Water crowds
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Lower Slaughter village, the cotswolds
Scenic Lower Slaughter village
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rapeseed plantations, the cotswolds
Hiking through rapeseed plantations
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View from Upper Brailes, the cotswolds
Countryside View from Upper Brailes
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Hook Norton Brewery - the cotswolds
Taste testing at Hook Norton Brewery
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 Burmese kittens Burmese kittens Burmese kittens
… And Burmese cats Ollie and Sophie who we looked after during this week in the Cotswolds.
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A week in the cotswolds

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Written by

Rebecca Mayoll is a ‘just turned 30’ freelance writer and photographer from England. She is the co-founder and author of straightondetour.com, a travel website with the mantra ‘find your own adventure.’ Promoting adventurous destinations, independent travel and giving a humorous insight to the World of travel is what Becky does best.

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