If you could only choose three things to demonstrate why you love a place, what would they be? This is the tricky question that is being asked by The Guardian in conjunction with enjoyEngland, the English tourist authority ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/enjoy-england ). Well, here are mine:
1. Space and Peace. I know this is technically two reasons but they are so interlinked that, in my mind, they only count as one. Besides, that way I can cram in an extra reason without appearing to cheat too much. The flat topped, rolling limestone hills that make up the Cotswolds offer far reaching views to the vales beyond. They free the mind and let the spirit wander – a rare occurrance in the busy world we all inhabit. This view looks north over glorious country to the Vale of Evesham and just invites you to start walking towards a distant goal.
The King’s Men stone circle forms part of the Rollright Stones and have been a meeting place since they were set here 4,500 years ago. In early morning light they appear mysterious and brooding but when the sun strikes them their colours and markings are awe inspiring. Rest here a while, at a time when you can be alone, for the feeling of peace is palpable.
And give back to the soil an offering, (when we have taken so much away), as others have done from the beginnings of time and continue to do so. Single flowers placed at the centre of the circle have a calm simplicity…
2. Nature. It is impossible not to be aware of nature in the Cotswolds, whether it is the magnificence of old trees, the deer crossing roads in front of you or the cloud formations of our large skyscapes. This ancient ash tree has watched centuries of agricultural change take place and, despite modern farming practice, still stands proud in a hedgerow dividing wheatfields.
Deer are common throughout the Cotswolds. Roe and the introduced Muntjac are frequently seen but perhaps the prettiest, when in their spotted summer coats, are the Fallow.
There are some exotic surprises too! A macaw outside a garage in Charlbury and
alpaca seem to be everywhere
3. History. The Cotswolds are steeped in history and it is the history of wealth and the power it brings. Sheep – or more accurately, their wool – were the originators of this wealth and the region still has a higher population of sheep to humans. But how to illustrate this when there is so much scope to choose from? Bliss Mill, in Chipping Norton, is now converted to luxury apartments but, for most of its time, produced some of the finest tweeds in Britain.
The churches of the Cotswolds were also a by-product of wool – the wealth it created is often shown by their huge size in proportion to the numbers of the local population. The photos below were also taken in Chipping Norton.
So, come and visit the Cotswolds and decide for yourself. And, in the meantime, select three things that make your special place, special.