Saturday, May 23rd
Cotswolds Steam Railway Holiday
Saturday, May 23rd
What could be nicer than the glorious Cotswolds in the spring? – An unspoiled haven of leafy lanes, rolling hills and sleepy farmyards to behold. From our base on the edge of the region we are able to travel into its heart and beyond. At least three steam railways, waterborne adventures and visits to some charming villages with “ever so English” names all combines in a relaxing yet absorbing itinerary.
SaturdayWe meet at Princes Risborough Station at about lunchtime and after losing our luggage join the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway for our first dose of “country” steam. There follows a rural drive down the B4009 to Didcot for an afternoon at the extensive Didcot Railway Centre. Timings permitting we’ll take a local train from here to Heyford and transfer the mile or so by coach up to the hotel.
SundayOur first Cotswolds day sees us travelling by train into Oxford and then through the heart of the Cotswolds Hills to Honeybourne. The scenery in this part of the world is charming, with stone walled fields and neatly kept buildings, enhanced at this time of year by the colours of spring. A short drive away is the Gloucester & Warwick Steam Railway linking Broadway with Cheltenham Racecourse. This line provides a delightful journey amid the rolling hills. Our route back to Steeple Aston includes a stop in the picturesque village of Bourton-on-the-Water and a visit to the quaint transport museum here.
MondayAnother rustic route takes us through Charlbury, Burford, Bibury (with a stop to see the trout), and Cirencester to Cricklade for our morning dose of steam. The Swindon & Cricklade Railway has made great strides over the years and claims to be the only steam railway in Wiltshire. After our visit we head into Swindon for the “Steam” Museum and the opportunity to lunch locally. A relaxed Sunday afternoon drive takes us back to Steeple Aston, with a country trundle through the sleepy landscape, and a couple of stops en route.
TuesdayA really relaxed finale awaits as we drive down to Abingdon to rendezvous with a Salter’s Steamer (that doesn’t). From here we cruise the Thames for two hours in the morning sunshine en route to Oxford before taking the short drive up to Bicester North Station to connect with homeward bound trains.
The Hopcrofts Holt, Steeple Aston
This country hotel is a two-storey, stone-built building that is full of character. The rooms are all well-appointed with the usual amenities one would expect of a three star establishment. The public areas comprise of a large bar, lounge and restaurant, all with exposed beams, and a very pleasant garden. Our evening dining arrangements are on a “group dining” basis as the hotel will be operating a carvery style meal. As you would expect of a former coaching inn there are tales of a resident highwayman ghost – but he was, according to the management, quite a nice chap really so there’s absolutely no reason to be concerned.