Built of stone, slate, clay and thatch, the historic Cotswolds are enriched by a juxtaposed legacy of cozy charm, exquisite gardens and majestic country homes that complement the softly rolling land and the scenic views from the western escarpments.  Formal manor houses and towns nestle as easily into its countryside as hamlets, fields and meandering rivers and streams.

 Ducks swim in the River Windrush early in the morning.

Ducks swim in the River Windrush early in the morning.

With artifacts that date to Neolithic man, through the Iron Age, to the Holy Roman Empire, into the Middle Ages, and on to the rise, peak and decline of the wool industry, a wealth of variety may be found in the Cotswolds. Full of charm, whimsy and allure, the Cotswolds are a second home to me.  Yet as with any ancient place, here and there an abrupt pocket of sadness or eeriness echoes from the past. The rainbow of auras live in the fabric of its patchwork fields as well as in the gaps between its strong, enduring stone structures, bridges and walls.

 

 View of the Northern Cotswolds from Snowshill Manor Garden

View of the Northern Cotswolds from Snowshill Manor Garden

Nowhere have the edifices of man done more to compliment the countryside than in the Cotswolds, as if the land itself dictated what to construct, the materials to be used and the form to be taken. Rather than creating scars and ugly sprawls on the pristine landscape, the people of the Cotswolds live in harmony with the land that falls into their trust. The culture is one of caretaking and giving.  Pride in what is local helps to preserve the dignity of the rich, yet subtle landscape.  The soul of the Cotswolds seems at peace.

In this month’s collection of travel photographs, you will find three iconic villages in the Cotswolds.  Burford is the gateway to the Cotswolds, welcoming visitors, returning travelers and inhabitants into its warm, bustling ambiance.  Burton-on-the-Water has been called the Venice of the Cotswolds where the River Windrush meanders its way along, crossed by picturesque low arched bridges.  Broadway is furthest north and, like Burton-on-the-Water, is candy-box cute.  I find the most appeal in each of these villages when tourists have drifted away and I can walk quietly with my camera, take photographs and see the villagers out to run errands, chat casually or head for a drink at the pub. 

Surrounding the villages are rolling fields of patchwork green, stands of trees, and narrow lanes where I meander happily for hours by foot or car, wandering from one pretty view to the next.  While flat areas and dramatic edges of the escarpment do exist, I think of the Cotswolds as sloped fields of greenery, freshly plowed soil and bright yellow canola fields in mid-spring.

With this update on the Cotswolds, a change has been made in the way photos display on the Places that Speak website.  For the most part, the titles will only be visible if your mouse is hovered over the photo.  This will allow maximum screen space for each photograph. 

Click the map at the left to see this introduction to the Charm of the Cotswolds.