The Cotswolds is an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” or AONB. The Cotswold AONB website states:
The Cotswolds is one of the most beautiful areas of England, known and loved by people across the world. It is the largest of 38 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales: an area of warmth and clarity with stone walls and buildings, open skies, rolling grasslands, beech woods and captivating villages, which make it an outstanding English landscape – a landscape once experienced, never forgotten.
I admit, reading this back in Maryland I thought to myself, “Mm-hmm, propaganda, PR, and marketing.” Yet here I find myself stunned to see this hardly begins to describe the Cotswolds.
Here you drive down one-and-a-half lane roads in the middle of what seems like nowhere — gorgeous, gorgeous nowhere — and come upon a wooden bench under a tree by a plaque in an ancient stone wall.
A simple drive home is full to the brim with wonder. “This whole place is a fairy land,” I say to my husband. How did we get so lucky?
How magical to walk these hills. The Cotswold Way is 102 miles long, and fortunately for me there are scores of shorter walks throughout. Every little shop has a stack of walking guides, and everywhere pubs and tea rooms welcome walkers and ramblers. Very different people have walked these paths — ramblers to tourists to monks (if you pick one link to click on, read the monk’s story) — and all in between — but for now let the sun set and dream of fairies.
*Who am I talking about? Tom Bombadil, of course.