13 June 2018 Travel
This article/post has been written by Sara Terrones, a Spanish travel blogger for Viajar Lo Cura Todo who hired a campervan with Yescapa to enjoy a 4-day Cotswolds tour from London last May.
The Cotswolds is an extensive area in South East England Britain with lovely quaint villages where time seems to stand still. It is full of lush green fields full of sheep and it's unique georgian architecture. The Cotswolds are best visited on a roadtrip in a camper, so you can take all the time you need to visit each village.
Although the closest airport is Bristol, with the exception of the Congestion zone toll in central London, it takes about 2 hours in total and there are some Cotswolds tours from London too. If driving, choose either Staunton via the M4 (if you are driving from south to north, like we did) or Stratford-upon-avon, where Shakespeare was born, via the M40.
Driving distances between villages are no longer than 30 minutes and the towns on route are quaint and lovely for a pitstop. We decided to drive to the Cotswolds for a long weekend, although some people would advise to stay longer, but 3-4 days is enough to see most of the Cotswolds area.
We drove from South to North, and the list of stops can be as long as you want it to be, but we visited the following villages:
Castle Combe > Malmesbury > Tetbury > Minchinhampton > Painswick > Bibury > Burford > Bourton-on-the-water > Lower Slaughter > Upper Slaughter > Stow on the Wold > Winchcombe > Stanway > Stanton > Snowshill > Broadway > Chipping Champden
Really, hiring a campervan is the best option to visit the Cotswolds. You'll have to ditch those traditional B&B's but you'll be hitting the road with a lot more flexability and comfort with a campervan hire.
We thought the following tips would be very helpful to plan your trip
Size matters. A bigger campervan means more space but can create problems when parking.Certain country lains between town can also be quite narrow to navigate when driving a large vehicle. With a smaller vehicle your are less likely to have an accident and it makes getting around a little easier.
Some towns have “pay & display” signs, some have set schedules where other streets have no parking signs at all. In general, avoid parking on high streets and look for a spot less central, where your more likely to avoid a fine. Most villages have big car parks outside the center, which may be free of charge or have a per hour/per day charge such as one of our spots Bourton-on-the-Water (6GBP/day!)
These car parks have public toilets so it can be a good spot to stay overnight. Make sure you read all the signs and there is no explicit “no overnight parking” mention. During our trip we spent 2 out of 3 nights in the outskirts of the cities, but generally your only a 5 minute walk from downtown.
Living the #vanlife means you often don't know where you are going to sleep each evening, you just flow with the road and stop where you feel most comfortable at a quiet spot. You can waste alot of time trying to find a spot on your own but you can also use campsite and stopover apps such as Caramaps (the premium version is free with your Yescapa hire) which show you the places where other users have slept, rated with stars and comments. Keep in mind that some of the info may not be recent or accurate, but nevertheless it's a good point to starting your search.
If your looking for a little more comfort you can always go to one of the many camping sites in the Cotswolds to spend the night, take a shower and use electricity. Check their availability in advanced online, as you might discover there are different conditions during peak season or during long weekends as they may require a minimum-night stay. This can change your plans and establish a base camp from where you will drive. If this is the case, try to choose a campsite that is in the center. Some of the best Cotswold camping sites are really unique. Do your best to reserve in advance to avoid dispointment.
Literally, even if it looks like your GPS is going to take you through fields, trust it. Distances are not a big deal, but road signs are ofter few and far between. So once you have decided your route, put the next town and follow the instructions. If you’d rather use an offline app, you can download Maps.me and download the map in advance.
Take full advantage of long summer days and visit the villages during off peak hours enjoy the beauty all to yourself. It's much nicer without cars parked on double line or in the central square and without crowds of touristists marching around all the hot spots.
The Cotswolds are getting more and more popular so you can imagine many others are also planning to visit the region. If possible, try to plan a getaway during weekdays in order to get away from the crowds and enjoy a more authentic experience.
Events might mean two things: you can find something very interesting but you can also expect larger crowds coming to the villages. If you know exactly when you are visiting the Cotswolds, check out the 'What’s On' section on their site and decide for yourself if you want to join the party or go for something quieter instead.
If your campervan has a fridge and a kitchenette, you found a great deal! Write a list and plan ahead for some of the meals on your trip. Get all your ingredients at a large supermarket and save. You'll have more money left in the piggy bank at the end of the day to go for a pint in one of the numerous pubs! The Vanlife is all about simplicity, so make sure you include pasta, rice, eggs and some veggies on your list and leave your aspirations to be an haute-cuisine chef at home during the trip. The more simple you keep the meal, the less you will have to clean later
With your campervan cooking aside, don't miss out on great Britisht cusine. Stop and enjoy one of the most delicious traditions in the UK: the Sunday Roast. There are many places where you can have a great lunch, as suggested in this article.
Would you add any other tip for visiting the Cotswolds? What are you waiting for? Check out some campers to hire in the Cotswolds area and get started!