Sadly we had to venture into the English countryside without Zach. It was tough duty, but someone had to do it! With our rental car on the left side of the road we made it to Stonehenge without issue. The ancient archaeological site has always been on my bucket list and now we can cross it off.
After riding the warm shuttle bus out into a field, we braved the cold and wind to see the rocks from all angles.
Because we were there early in the day, there were not a lot of others to impede our photos but we didn’t lollygag. Soon we were back in the warmth of the exhibition with photos to prove that we were really there.
From Stonehenge we headed west towards Bath. Rick Steves gives this city three triangles, so we had to check it out. Boy are we glad we did! We stayed at the cute Chestnuts House, just a short walk from the center of this ancient town.
Upon arrival we joined the free city tour and learned about the city’s Roman founding in 900AD through the 18th and 19th century links to royals and travelers. Most came here seeking medical benefits from the natural spring waters around which the town was built.
Incredible architecture and racy stories gave us a sense that this is the place where people have come for serious R&R for over a thousand years.
The next day we toured the Roman baths, using the great audio guide included with the ticket. The Romans built a temple and an elaborate complex of baths using the natural hot springs. The site was used for religious as well as medicinal and social purposes. Today, it’s one of the best examples of Roman life outside of Rome. We even got to taste the water, which is still rich with minerals.
After our time in Bath we headed to the Cotswolds, the collection of small medieval villages that dots the countryside north of London. For three days we wandered the cute hamlets, checking out old market buildings, churches, and a few pubs too.
Our home base in the Cotswolds was the cute Old Stocks Inn in Stow on the Wold. Yes, the stocks are still there and yes, I put Steve in them!
One day we visited the Cotswolds Falconry Center and saw a great display of birds of prey.
In this rural area, Steve braved the cold and rain while running on a few of the many footpaths that link the small little villages in the Cotswolds. Even though our weather was not too great, we made the best of our time here.
Stratford upon Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, is also in this area, so we used one day to explore the realm of the Bard. Amidst pouring rain and wind, we checked out Shakespeare’s birthplace, and other sites related to his life.
It was interesting to learn about his life in the 1600s and about how people have been making pilgrimages to these sites to pay their respects since the 1800s. What took us so long?
Our final stop before heading home was Oxford. Honestly we weren’t sure what we were in for, but we left feeling like we only scratched the surface. We took a walking tour of the University of Oxford and learned about the college system (kind of like our dorms/Greek life system). Most impressive were the old buildings that define the institution, many of which date to the 1300s. While we aren’t big Harry Potter fans, it was cool to see many of the buildings and areas where the movies (as well as many other films and documentaries have been filmed). Hopefully a longer, more in-depth visit to Oxford is in our future.
For now, we’re back in Prescott for awhile, planning our next adventures.