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Romantic Road Cotswolds (2 Drives You Can Take)

The Cotswolds area in England is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty AONB with many Sites of Special Scientific Interest as well. 

The outstanding natural beauty is enhanced by the man-made beauty of the honey-coloured stone cottages and the vast amount of ancient history and heritage in the area.

Despite being a tourist hotspot, there are many, many opportunities for a romantic road trip within the Cotswolds and the area is awash with romantic cottages and hotels to stay in as well.

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Here, we are going to take you on not one but two romantic days out in the Cotswolds starting from the Regency Town of Cheltenham.

Route 1: Romantic Road Cotswolds (with Off the Beaten Path Locations)

Romantic Road Cotswolds (with Off the Beaten Path Locations)

The getting away from it, the countryside meanders romantic road trip:

This road trip is mainly about getting away from the madding crowd but not missing out on some beautiful, but busy places.  Hopefully, the advice on where to stop for a stroll will work and these places will not be overrun with couples who have read this enjoying romantic breaks!

From Cheltenham

Head out to the B4632 via Prestbury and you can enjoy the slower pace of the B road and admire some lovely houses on the outskirts of Cheltenham before entering the countryside.

Just after a straight piece of road and the sign for Winchcombe and the 30 mile an hour sign turn right towards Belas Knap, right again into a narrow tree-lined lane Corndean Lane.

The trees open up to reveal the lovely view of Belas Knap Long Barrow as you drive along the side of the hill.  Stay on this road until you reach a crossroads where you can turn right for Charlton Abbots and Guiting Power, take this turn.  Follow on and go straight across the crossroads for Guiting Power.

Guiting Power is a nice, quiet village and an ideal place to park up and go for a walk to admire the many different building styles in the honey stone.

Leaving Guiting Power head for Bourton-on-the-Water via B4068 and then Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter.  This route takes you onto the high ground again and affords stunning countryside views. 

Once you get to Bourton-on-the-Water turn into Landsdowne which leads into the High Street and the prettiest part of the town.  You can decide if you want to stop here or drive through, if stopping there are parking spaces on the road that make a good place to walk along and back to.

Pavement cafe, Bourton on the Water

Continue along Rissington Road to Little Rissington and immediately before the road sign for Upper Rissington turn left signposted for Stow-on-the-Wold

Turn left immediately after Phipp Feeds, you are going to Wyck Rissington, the smallest of the four Rissington’s and a place with a lovely 750-year-old church where Gustuv Holst was organist for a while.   

Wyck Rissington takes you on to the A462 where you need to turn left and then right to Lower and then Upper Slaughter.  It is definitely worth stopping in Lower Slaughter and having a lovely walk, it should be much quieter and is less commercial than Bourton-on-the-Water and is a very beautiful, romantic place for a stroll.

River Eye at Lower Slaughter

Onwards towards Batsford Arboretum and you have a choice once you get there depending on your preferences…  Batsford Arboretum is described as a lovely place for a romantic walk and it does look very beautiful.

However, you do have some more towns and villages to see and are on course for the National Trust’s very special, internationally renowned Hidcote Manor Gardens

On the way to Batsford, you will pass through lovely Lower Swell, turn right at the T junction and on to Upper Swell where you briefly go onto the B4077 by turning left and then right.  This brings you onto the A424 and turn right onto the A44 towards Batsford Arboretum, or left to go straight to Blockley via the B4479.

From Batsford Aboretum, it would be right from their entrance and then right onto the B4479 and through Blockley on towards Hidcote Manor Gardens.

If not going to Hidcote Manor Gardens then you would not need to turn off for Blockley, but go on to the Broadway Tower.

If going to Hidcote Manor Gardens pop it into the Sat Nav at Blockley, go on through Ebrington and you should soon pick up the brown signs for Hidcote Manor Gardens that will guide you in. 

When you leave Hidcote Manor Gardens head for Broadway Tower a folly designed to be seen from Lady Coventry’s house in Worcester.  It is on one of the highest hills in the area and the views are stunning.

Hidcote manor gardens in the english cotswolds

Now, back to Cheltenham via the B4068 and A436.

This trip is largely about exploring the beautiful country lanes and getting off of the usual road routes to do so.  Therefore, I strongly urge you to use a sat nav with caution, mainly only put on if you think you may have taken a wrong turn in the many lanes and are near the next destination.  The Romantic Road depends on being off the main routes.

Approximately 4-5 hours drive time depending on traffic and approximately 75 miles.

Route 2: The Path Less Travelled Tour

Route 2 The Path Less Travelled Tour

This trip takes in some lovely ancient historical locations and landscapes as well as some achingly romantic settings for you to enjoy with your loved one.

Head out of Cheltenham on the A40.  This takes you past the Dowdeswell Reservoir before you turn off towards Withington, Chedworth and Bibury.

Withington is a very pretty place to drive through and is a natural route to get the Chedworth, where a visit to the Chedworth Roman Villa is recommended along with a stroll around the village.  Depending on the time of day you set out, the Roman Villa is a romantic place for a picnic lunch.  Although, you may decide to enjoy a coffee at the onsite cafe at other times of day and have lunch elsewhere.

Chedworth Roman Villa

Before you go, have a look around Chedworth, there are some very pretty cottages.

Drive to Bilbury, you will travel a short way on the A429.  A must-stop location. Bilbury is beautiful, romantic and a perfect place to enjoy some relaxing time together, to allow the stresses of life to fade away as you walk arm in arm alongside the bubbling river and enjoy the peace and tranquillity that Bilbury offers. 

Old street with traditional cottages in beautiful spring day , Bibury

Ampney Crucis is the next drive-through location and when you get to the T junction, turn right and then follow the road through the village to the crossroads and turn right onto the A417, London Road towards Cirencester. 

Pop Cerney House Gardens in the sat nav and you will be guided through Cirencester, a place to visit on a less romantic day.

Cerney House Gardens is well known as a romantic beauty spot in the Cotswolds and is a must-visit location on this trip.  They have a cosy cafe, a shop and plant sales.

When you have enjoyed the gardens, take a drive through the village of North Cerney, it is another one of those pretty, unassuming Cotswolds villages that is peaceful and beautiful.

Driving back towards Cheltenham from North Cerney to enjoy some time at Crickley Hill, you are in an ancient, historical landscape: There is a great deal of Roman history in the area and Channel Four’s Time Team excavated near the route to find Roman ruins.  The area has many ancient burial mounds, barrows and hill forts.

The route along the A435 is largely tree-lined to start with making for a very pleasing dappled light as you motor along. 

After the turn off to Cockleford there is a small crossroads, with the left turn signposted for Cowley.  Turn off down here and into Cowley, a lovely off the beaten track place with some stunning architecture to see as you drive through.

On the other side, the lane once again takes you into the heart of the ancient landscape as you head towards Crickley Hill.  After about 2 miles turn left at the crossroads onto the A436.  Observe the brown sign and turn right to Crickley Hill.

Views from Crickley Hill Country park near Gloucester

Crickley Hill is jointly managed by the National Trust and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and not only is it a lovely place for a walk, but it is of immense importance for wildlife.  It has evidence of human habitation right back to 4000 BC and the National Trust advise that it has magnificent views ‘magnificent views towards Robinswood Hill and May Hill, and the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountain beyond.’

Following a bracing and romantic walk at Crickley Hill taking in the stunning far-reaching views, it is time to head back to your accommodation in Cheltenham for a luxurious bath and well-deserved cocktails.

Approximately 2.5 – 3.5 hours drive depending on traffic and Approximately 56 miles.

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Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.

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