The idyllic rural cottages of the Cotwolds is famed world round. A Hamlet was going to be the destination for my surprise birthday trip. We visited a more quiet and remote part of the Cotswolds, in greater Gloucestershire. Our getaway destination was going to be Elcombe
Elcombe hamlet, not a tragic Shakespearean hamlet:
Elcombe hamlet consists of about 11 houses. Known as a hamlet due to its size, which is smaller than a village and as it does not contain a church. Elcombe is picturesque with stone houses built with local stone, set against a backdrop of green valleys.
This hamlet is built on fossilised limestone and remnants of a stone quarry still exits. It was once common for local villages to have their own quarry. After a short train journey from London and taxi ride from Stroud, we arrived at the cottage. Our base for the next few days was a traditional stone house with an outdoor area and a beautiful garden overlooking woodlands and farmlands.
After settling in at the cottage, we wander out to find a local pub. Our first impression is that the Elcombe hamlet is popular with creatives. The locals are friendly and welcoming, waving as we pass by their houses. We do a quick search for the local drinking hole, we make our way to the Woolpack pub.
A short walk from the hamlet, uphill into the Slad valley. This small pub is very popular with the locals and we were disappointed to find they are fully booked for dinner. We can have drinks outside in the courtyard though. The bar lady recommends we booking in advance if you want a reservation for dinner the next day. We decide to continue our walk over the rolling hills into Stroud central. The views and stillness walking along the country road is absolute bliss, with only a few black sheep inquisitively walking to fence to see who these passers byes are.
At least an hour and a half after we first set out, we find an Italian restaurant, Sorrento, that catches our eye. There is a chill in the air and after a very long walk, a glass of wine with some comfort food is what we need. I order the local favourite dish, a seafood risotto, cooked al dente, a perfect meal to end the day. Its dark when we head back and we decide to catch a taxi from Stroud back to Elcombe. Our taxi drops us at the entrance to the Hamlet and we walk back in the dark down to the cottage.
Elcombe’s natural morning alarm:
The next morning, we wake up to the sound of a Woodpecker, drumming away in the woodlands. We head downstairs to make coffee and breakfast and have it outside. In the distance wild rabbits are running across the fields, judging by their numbers, they are thriving in this area.
We soak up the morning sun from the terrace. It’s so peaceful, we take in the serenity. Our host is delighted to find us enjoying the outdoor space. He informs us that we can explore the Woodlands across the road. After a few hours of reading, we pack a light bag with snacks and wine and head for the hills.
The entrance to the woodlands is a few steps away from the cottage. We walk along the path and make our way to the top of the hill, for views over the valley and Gloucestershire below. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic, even though it is Autumn and slightly cold. The views are breathe taking despite the wind.
The local stone quarry:
We continue exploring and stumble across an old stone quarry. Much to my husband’s delight, he finds some fossils set in the limestone. We head back to the top of the hill to watch the sunset. When the sun has set, we walk back to the cottage through the Woodlands, treading carefully in the dark.
Later in the evening, we make use of the lack of light to experiment taking night photographs. Other than an owl in the distance and some few rabbits running across the farmlands, you can hear a pin drop.
From Elcombe to Bisley and back:
The next morning our host kindly offers us some great tips for things to do in the area. We decide to take his advice and visit the next village, Bisley. We explore the area by foot because we would like to take in the fresh country air and sites. Bisley is best explored by taking a leisurely stroll through the village. The quaint parish is a beautiful village with the typical stone houses for which the Cotswolds is known. We have lunch at the local pub and then continue taking in the historic sites and buildings.
We make our way back to Elcombe. This is a bit of a hair-raising walk along a country road, which takes about 40 minutes to Elcombe. We only stop to pat some horses along route, acknowledging strangers in the area and wanting a head rub. The road has no pavement or hard shoulder and barely space for one car to pass. We are grateful when we finally get to the end of this road, when we are back in Elcombe.
It is our last day in Elcombe. In a flash our idyllic break is coming to an end. We spend the last few hours exploring Stroud. We stumble across an antique market in town, visit the cathedral and discover Stroud has a canal. Canals and towpaths are a feature of the Stroud valleys. As much as we still want to explore, we are running out of time and need to head to Stroud train station to catch our train back to London. I suppose we will have to explore the canals some other time.
After a few days in fresh country air, we are sad to leave Elcombe. As the train leaves the station, I am already thinking about exploring more of the Cotswolds. The journey takes just under 2 hours on a slower train from Stroud to London.
Until next time. Adventure awaits.