Snow in the Cotswolds

by Britta on 10 January 2010

in European Adventure



Actually, there’s snow everywhere in England at the moment. It’s been a week of snowstorms and cold weather, and it’s being called “The Big Freeze” by the news and weather stations. And I’ll admit, I’m cold, too. The temperature has been hovering around freezing, and the other day, I got stuck in the town of Moreton-in-Marsh when I arrived on the train by the skin of my teeth (it was one of the last services to be cancelled) to find that none of the buses were running to my planned final destination, Stow-on-the-Wold.

It wasn’t a terrible place to have to spend the night it — plenty of pubs, several cafes and tea shops, and a nice frilly B&B where they gave me a discount for being stuck. All of the Cotswold villages are known for their quaint country charm and beauty, and Moreton-in-Marsh was no exception, especially with its icing of snow on top of everything. I arrived as night was falling, and all of the Christmas lights still strung up around the town made it glow and sparkle and radiate warmth despite the cold air.



Tourism is a main industry year-round in the Cotswolds, but for the three days I stayed in the area, I seemed to be the only non-local in town. On my way out, I talked to a couple who remarked how quiet the town was — usually by midday the town was choked with the cars of day-trippers and weekend warriors. That day, two or three cars passed every few minutes or so.

Fortunately, the buses made it back onto the roads pretty quickly, and I found myself in Stow-on-the-Wold after a 10-minute bus ride. The towns are apparently only a couple of miles apart, and without the snow (and had I known where I was going) I probably could have walked the distance without too much extra effort. I checked in at the YHA hostel, where I was the only guest for the two nights I was there. I’ve been alone in a dorm room in a hostel, but I’ve never been the only one in the entire place. While I sometimes find myself bemoaning the lack of privacy in hostels, having the whole thing to myself was a little disconcerting. I wouldn’t have minded a couple of roommates then.

Country Walk near Stow

Country Walk near Stow

Despite the snow, I was able to take a country walk, which is the activity of choice on a visit to the Cotswolds. As many of the English are avid walkers (or hikers, to me), I was able to follow in the footsteps, literally, of those who had headed out earlier. That day it didn’t snow, and in fact, perfect blue skies hung over the white rolling “wolds” (or hills). I walked through the town of Upper Swell, where I didn’t see one person outside, and only two cars passed on the road. I walked through Lower Swell, where I met an old man walking an equally old Golden Retriever with booties on. We talked about where I had come from (Stow, not the U.S.), how I could get back there (take the path at the end of town), and the local farmer who was plowing all the roads with his tractor. After our chat, he wished me an enjoyable walk and left to go find his wife. I also passed through Maugersbury, which seemed to be just a collection of houses, before I made it back to Stow.

When I got back, I looked up my route on the map at the hostel, and discovered I had hiked 5 miles. Though that’s a decent distance for a hike in the snow, it definitely didn’t feel that long (except for that one interminable hill at the end). Perhaps it was all the pretty villages I passed through, or the fact that I could always see the next one on the opposite hill. Regardless, it was a great day out, and I walked back into town with all the local kids who were returning, exhilarated, from the sledging (sledding) hill.

Sledging Hill

Sledging Hill

Only about half of the stores were open in Stow, but plenty of people were out on the streets. Some were running errands in their Wellies (Wellington, or rubber boots), some were off for a day hike in their boots and gaiters. Some were standing in the square with shovels, waiting to be good Samaritans to those who needed help getting their cars out. Everyone knew each other and had a kind word to say. Usually it was about the snow. Despite its tourist-town reputation, I think many people in Stow were surprised to see me in town, as if I had beaten all the odds to get there, but they still had a kind word (about the snow) to share with me as well. Sometimes it’s nice to be the only tourist in town.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Janine January 11, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Hi Britta,
Grandma and I enjoyed the wintry views of England per the fabulous photos…..what great shots! I read your blog to Grandma and she was very attentive! Your narrative received many heartfelt smiles. Jordan and Heidi had fun skyping with you, sorry I missed you. Keep on treking and sharing the adventure! It helps us get out of the house.
Love & Blessings,
Aunt Janine & Grandma

Pat Perry January 16, 2010 at 12:27 am

NIce story and I felt like I was walking the adventure with you – though I didn’t get quite as cold!

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