The Cotswolds & Oxford

Inspiring small group journeys.
7 days from $3895
  • Holiday type: Garden Tours
  • Countries: England
  • Starts (city): London
  • Ends (city): London
  • Group size: 12 maximum
  • Trip style: Superior - 4 star
  • Tour code: 744

Rolling landscapes, pretty villages & gardens

This tour combines some of England's very best gardens, the charm and beauty of Cotswolds' villages, and the comfort of a splendid old coaching inn - all set against a backdrop of some of England's prettiest countryside. The Cotswold Hills, a range of rolling hills 40 kms wide by 145 kms long, is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The area is especially characterised by 'chocolate-box' towns and villages, each built of slightly different coloured stone, varying from a warm grey to a rich, deep honey colour. Its association, ever since Norman times, with sheep and the wool trade made the Cotswolds incredibly prosperous, and it is notable too, for being the natural home of the Arts and Crafts Movement, various examples of which we will see throughout the week.

  • Buscot Park
  • Eastleach House
  • Sudeley Castle
  • Waddesdon Manor
  • Upton Wold
  • Rousham House
  • Kiftsgate Court
  • Hidcote Manor
  • Cerney House
Solo Traveller Comments

Solo travellers will enjoy this tour because they will be in the company of like minded people who share an interest in beautiful gardens. If you are happy to share a room we will endeavour to accommodate you with someone of the same gender. Otherwise, be assured that the single supplement cost has not been marked up - we are only passing on the additional costs charged by hotels for occupying a single room.


Day 1 | From Stansted to the Cotswolds, via Waddesdon Manor

Tim will either collect you from Homelye Farm - our friendly B&B, 15 minutes from Stansted Airport - or meet you at Stansted Airport. Once we are all together, we leave Stansted on the motorway network and drive west for lunch and an afternoon visit to Waddesdon Manor, the Loire chateaux built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1877 and 1883 to entertain guests at his famous 'Saturday to Monday' house parties. Your ticket will include entrance to the house and we will have plenty of time to explore the garden and grounds.

From Waddesdon it is about an hour's drive to our hotel in the picturesque Cotswold market town of Burford, where we will arrive in good time to check in and relax, before drinks and dinner at The Lamb.

Total driving:  approx 110 miles/180 kms
Meals:  Dinner

Day 2 | Getting to know the Cotswolds, Hidcote Manor and Kiftsgate Court

We start today with a scenic drive through the Cotswolds to Broadway Tower, to stretch our legs and take in the views, and then an hour or so in Chipping Campden, a particularly attractive Cotswold market town. It is a deliberately late start into the gardens, starting with lunch at Kiftsgate Court, a beautiful and some say feminine garden - hardly surprising as owner and gardener, Anne Chambers, is the third generation of women to garden at Kiftsgate. It is also home to the famous Kiftsgate rose, the largest rose in England.

We'll leave Kiftsgate in the late afternoon and cross the road to Hidcote Manor for the latter part of the afternoon and early evening. Our plan, now that Hidcote is open until 7pm, is to miss the bulk of the crowds - enjoying this fantastic Arts and Crafts garden, the lifetime's work of American horticulturist, Lawrence Johnston. Its colourful and intricately designed outdoor 'rooms' pre-date those of Sissinghurst and indeed, the Nicholson's visited Johnson for advice upon their purchase of Sissinghurst.

Dinner is at The Horse & Groom, Bourton-on-the-Hill, the Gloucestershire Dining Pub of the Year 2013, 30-minutes from home.

Total driving:  approx 60 miles/100 kms
Meals:  Breakfast, dinner

Day 3 | Sudeley Castle and a mystery afternoon in the Cotswolds

We spend the morning at Sudeley Castle, once home to Katherine Parr, the last and surviving wife of Henry VIII, and later a refuge for Charles I during the Civil War. Sudeley has the most perfect setting, just above Winchcombe, an ancient town and sometime capital of England, and its lovingly restored gardens complement the elegance and tranquility of the castle and its ruins.

Exactly where we're going this afternoon is a mystery, but we will be exploring a garden or gardens open for charity under the National Gardens Scheme (NGS), and on any given summer Sunday afternoon in the Cotswolds there is an abundance of gardens open for charity - and if we are really lucky, we'll get a group or village opening. And there's always tea and cake too! We will return to Burford for dinner at The Lamb Inn.

Total driving:  approx 60 miles/100 kms
Meals:  Breakfast, dinner

Day 4 | Two hidden-away gardens, a row of cottages and a Saxon church

Our first visit is a private guided tour of one of our favourite gardens, Ian and Caroline Bond's garden at Upton Wold. Created from nothing since 1973, this garden has everything, and a setting to die for! We will have coffee at Upton Wold, but lunch in nearby Stow-on-the-Wold - yet another charming Cotswold market town.

From Stow we return towards Burford for an unhurried drive along the Coln valley, stopping in Bibury to see Arlington Row, a row of weavers' cottages dating to the 14th century, and stopping again to visit St Andrews Coln Rogers, an 11th century Saxon church. Mid afternoon we arrive at Cerney House, a romantic secret place set around a Victorian walled kitchen garden, a tapestry of shape and colour. Dinner at the peerless The Village Pub, Barnsley, en route home to Burford.

Total driving:  approx 70 miles/110 kms
Meals:  Breakfast, dinner

Day 5 | Oxford, the city of dreaming spires

We spend the whole of today in Oxford, a city most associated with its university, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, and although there is no clear date of foundation, teaching existed since at least 1096.

There is a great deal to do and see in Oxford, but to start the day off and to orientate ourselves to the city, we will hire a specialist city guide to take us on a 2-hour walking tour. We will assist you in planning your day, but the day is then your own, until we meet again for a spot of afternoon tea at the renowned Randolph Hotel - famous, amongst other things, as a regular haunt of Inspector Morse. We will return to Burford for dinner at The Lamb Inn.

Total driving:  approx 40 miles/65 kms
Meals:  Breakfast, dinner

Day 6 | Eastleach House, Buscot Park and the Antiques Roadshow

We have a busy day today, beginning with a private visit to Eastleach House, a 14 acre/6 ha garden. Stephanie Richards, the proud owner of Eastleach, will meet us and give us an introductory talk before you go off and explore her garden. We can walk to the village pub for lunch, before an afternoon visit to nearby Buscot Park, in part a wonderful landscape garden, wonderful walled kitchen garden and, most importantly of all, one of Britain's finest water gardens, an unusual marriage of Italianate formality with an English parkland landscape.

To round the day off, we are going to visit the auction rooms of established provincial auctioneers, Moore, Allen & Innocent, to view a range of selected antiques (whatever is ready for Friday's select antiques sale), and we will be guided in this by our friend and auctioneering partner, Philip Allwood. We will return to Burford for dinner at The Lamb Inn.

Total driving:  approx 50 miles/80 kms
Meals:  Breakfast, dinner

Day 7 | Rousham House and Stansted Airport

Our final day starts at a farm shop, but this is no ordinary farm shop, this is Daylesford Organics, where we can purchase a few goodies, for a picnic lunch at Rousham House, a garden of two halves - the historically important 18th century William Kent landscape, one of the few gardens of this date to have escaped alteration, and a charming walled garden with herbaceous borders, parterres and a pigeon house.

We are two hours from Stansted Airport, where the tour ends. If you are staying on in Britain and don't wish, to return to Stansted Airport, we will assist you in getting to your next destination.

Total driving:  approx 130 miles/210 kms
Meals:  Breakfast

This tour is particularly well-suited to combining with the Chelsea Flower Show tour before it, or Norfolk - The Rose Tour after it.

Currently there are no dates available for this tour. Please email us if you would like to be kept informed about new departures.


  • 6 nights accommodation
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Entrance to all the gardens and other attractions listed in the itinerary
  • All transport throughout the tour
  • Our personal service throughout the tour


  • Tips

Lamb Inn

Situated at the heart of the Cotswolds, in the delightful and picturesque town of Burford, is the Lamb Inn. A traditional English country hotel,  the Lamb is ideally situated for exploring this beautiful area.

This ancient inn, originally built in 1420 as weavers’ cottages, is in complete harmony with its delightful situation in the Cotswolds. The phrase ‘charming old inn’ is used much too freely, but the Lamb has a genuine right to it.

Lined with trees and cool green lawns, behind which are set picturesque Cotswold limestone homes reflecting the historic affluence of the town, Sheep Street is the setting for the Lamb Inn. From its wisteria-clad walls to its stone-flagged bar, from the charming dining room to the beautifully refurbished bedrooms, the Lamb has been delightfully restored to create the comfort of today, whilst retaining the atmosphere of yesteryear.

Enjoy a drink or lunch in the walled patio garden, a veritable sun-trap which leads down to a beautiful traditional English cottage garden, a lovely area in which to relax, read or to take an afternoon nap.

The buildings have been here since 1402, the oldest part of which is the Priory Lane bar window. The ancient flagstones in the bar were laid in the 1420s. Sheep Street is not an idle name, nor is ‘The Lamb’ a title chosen at random. In the days of Burford market and the big sheep fairs, the sheep were penned here on the wide grassy banks and each property possessed the right to let the bank in front for the sale of sheep.

In 1718, Thomas and Susannah Hucks paid 60 pounds for the house with Barn and ground immediately adjoining to the north in Priory Lane. They were responsible for turning the property into a traditional Inn. Further adjoining properties were purchased and the Lamb Inn was established. The frontage of Lamb Inn is typical of the yeoman properties of Burford in the 18th century, although like most Burford properties it incorporates much older work inside.

Lamb Inn has 17 ensuite bedrooms, each having individual character and decorated in warm traditional colours with fine, often antique, furniture for a true country feel. The bedrooms have been designed to make you feel pampered and cosseted, giving you views onto the quiet, leafy lanes of Burford or onto the peaceful courtyard and garden of the hotel.

The peaceful location of the Lamb Inn means that whichever room you choose, you can be sure of a quiet, restful night’s sleep. All bedrooms are non-smoking and have television, direct-dial telephone, beverage tray and ensuite bath/shower-room generously stocked with complimentary Molton Brown products to use during your stay.

Click here for more information

 on this tour, or if you have more general questions about tours to this area or this style of tour, send us an email. Of course, you can also call our travel specialists on 02 9449 8598 to book a trip or ask a question.

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