Scouting England: Bath and the Cotswolds

England, Bath, Cotswolds, Great Britain, Honeymoon
Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon in Bath – All photos by James Riswick unless otherwise noted

It may come as a surprise, but not everyone’s ideal honeymoon includes endless sunshine, white sand beaches and copious hours lounging by a pool. Warm weather isn’t even a necessity.

In this spirit, we recently traveled to Great Britain to scout what adventures honeymooners can find in England. After four days exploring the sights, museums and pubs of London, we rented a car and ventured west (about 100 miles) to the historic city of Bath and the quintessentially English district known as the Cotswolds.

England may not be synonymous with honeymoons, but we discovered it’s definitely a place newlyweds should consider. Here’s what we found.

England, Bath, Cotswolds, Great Britain, Honeymoon
(Clockwise from left) Part of Bath’s “Circus,” a plaza enclosed by a circle of buildings. The Royal Crescent. It was cold and windy, so I did my best incognito celebrity impression in the Circus.

There has been a town of some sort on the site of Bath since the Romans ruled England. The hot springs bubbling up from the Earth inspired a sprawling bathing complex that eventually crumbled and was dismantled throughout the Dark Ages, Medieval period and beyond. The buildings today were built in the early 19th century in the Georgian style and the entire city as a result has been inscribed as a World Heritage Site.

England, Bath, Cotswolds, Great Britain, Honeymoon
The name Bath comes from the Roman-era bath complex on this site. Don’t think about taking a dip, though, as the pools are lined with lead. The surrounding museum building, like most buildings in Bath, dates to the early 19th century.
England, Bath, Cotswolds, Great Britain, Honeymoon
Green spaces contrast with the grand Georgian buildings.
To say Lacock is quaint would be an understatement. We even stumbled across a neighborhood cricket match.
To say Lacock is quaint would be an understatement. We even stumbled across a neighborhood cricket match.

Located just to the east of Bath in Wiltshire and a short drive from our hotel in Box was the town of Lacock. This entire tiny town is owned by the National Trust and is worth a quick walk around. If it looks a bit familiar, that’s because it’s been a location for many films, including two Harry Potter adventures.

Lacock Abbey
Lacock Abbey was founded in the 14th century as a monastery. It became a private manor after King Henry VIII abolished the monasteries. Like the rest of the town, it is owned by the National Trust and can be toured.
Honeymoon, England, Bath, Cotswolds
My husband James at the George Inn in Lacock. Established in 1361, there’s a good chance it’s the oldest building we’ve ever had a pint in. That wheel next to the stove used to house a small dog, bred specifically for the task of powering it. Turning the wheel would turn a spit in the fire. We should note PETA did not exist in the 15th century.
England, Bath, Cotswolds, Great Britain, Honeymoon
There are four ways to reach Dyrham Park from the main visitor centre and parking lot. One is a shuttle, and the other are three walking routes. (LEFT) The most direct path to Dyrham Park by foot. The manor’s residents today are deer, we spotted them in the morning while taking one of the longer walking routes. It was a peaceful moment after the city atmosphere of Bath.

We wanted to visit Downton Abbey (aka Highclere Castle), but it was closed to visitors in May. Instead, we ventured to one of the many other old manor houses in Britain donated and maintained by the National Trust. Dyrham Park was built around the turn of the 18th century by a commoner bureaucrat who worked in the courts of William and Mary, and Queen Anne. It’s a smaller, less ostentatious example of a manor house, but nevertheless provides a glimpse of the history and culture that has inspired so many with “Downton Abbey.”

Honeymoon, England, Bath, Cotswolds, Dyrham Park, Honeymoon
Dyrham Park is home to an almost-intact Victorian-era kitchen. Remember that dog-powered spit at The George Inn? It was replaced by one of these — a fan inside the flu rotates with rising hot air to turn the spit. PETA is much happier.

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