4 places to enjoy the great outdoors
With the autumn fast approaching, it’s a wonderful time of year for pulling on your favourite coat and exploring the natural beauty we’re lucky to have right on our doorstep. Here are some of our favourite places to enjoy the great outdoors here in Oxfordshire and neighbouring counties like the Cotswolds.
1. The Rollright Stones
If you thought prehistoric Britain was all about Stonehenge, you might be surprised to learn that there’s plenty of ancient history to be found right here in Oxfordshire. Hidden away in a field near the village of Long Compton, not far from Chipping Norton, these monuments are Neolithic and Bronze Age in date and take the form of a stone circle and other standing stones. They occupy an atmospheric spot in the rolling hills of the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border, and they’re known by evocative folklore names such as ‘the Whispering Knights’ and ‘the King’s Men’. Having visited them, pop down the road to nearby Chastleton House, the stunning Jacobean National Trust house used for the filming of the BBC series Wolf Hall.
2. Uffington White Horse
Sticking with a prehistoric theme, standing stones weren’t the only thing our ancient ancestors left behind here in Oxfordshire. The enigmatic chalk horse etched into the landscape at Uffington is the country’s oldest hillside white horse figure, thought to date to the late Bronze Age. The views from the horse and the nearby hillfort are spectacular, forming part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
3. Broadway Tower
Across the border in Worcestershire, but an easy journey up the A44 from Oxford, you’ll find one of the most spectacular lookout points in the Cotswolds. Perched right on the Cotswolds Edge, Broadway Tower can be seen for many miles around and reputedly offers views of 16 counties. Once a favourite haunt of artists such as William Morris, this 18th-century folly now makes a great spot for a walk along the Cotswolds Way – or a bite to eat in the cafe, once you’ve looked around the tower itself. If you fancy a gentle walk, make your way down the hillside to the charming village of Broadway, where you can enjoy a fabulous meal at the Broadway Deli and explore the Ashmolean Museum’s Broadway outpost.
4. Dover’s Hill
Maintained by the National Trust, Dover’s Hill is a picturesque Cotswolds beauty spot in neighbouring Gloucestershire. Easily accessible from Oxford, the hill has far-reaching views and makes a perfect picnic spot. In June each year, the natural amphitheatre formed by the steeply sloping hillside becomes the setting for the fabulously eccentric Dover’s Hill Games. Walk down the road for lunch in Chipping Campden, or head over to the nearby Ebrington Arms for lunch and an amble around one of the finest villages in the Cotswolds. If you feel like sticking around to sample the local ales late into the evening, don’t forget to book a chauffeur to get you home safely and in style.