Enterprising Cotswolds residents Becky and Robin Simpson have taken the quaint villages tour one step further. They invite travellers into their historic, thatched cottage home to eat the best of quintessential English food this region has to offer. I met the couple on Twitter, we got chatting, and I was intrigued about their venture which got off the ground last year and is already earning accolades. Here’s what you need to know.
The six-hour guided day tour of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire north Cotswold villages is combined with meal intervals at the Simpsons’ lovely cottage. Becky drives a minibus, seating seven, to outstanding villages bypassed by mainstream tour companies. The villages she selects are made up of thatched cottages, pretty, rambling English country gardens and dusty lanes, which illustrate aspects of life as far back as the 16th century.
TripAdvisor has ranked Secret Cottage Cotswold Tourism Tours #1 of 18 ‘Best Attractions in Moreton-in-Marsh’ and #2 of 91 ‘Best Activities in the Cotswolds’. It’s not just older travellers who go. There’s more reviews from young people. Secret Cottage has an extensive garden to sit and have your meals in. If the weather isn’t great there are three inglenook fireplaces to cosy up to, which are open log fires used to heat the home.
The heavily-beamed heritage-listed building is nearly 500 years old. At Secret Cottage Becky serves morning coffee and home-made pastries, a buffet lunch and in the afternoon you can see the scones being baked for your Cream Tea. Scones are served with jam and cream, along with an assortment of sandwiches and teas.
Most tourists arrive by train at Moreton-in-Marsh railway station from Oxford or London-Paddington in time for the tour which starts at 10.15am and ends at 4.30pm. The cost is £85 which is inclusive of all food and drink served at Secret Cottage.
Tourism Tours highlights:
- Travelling to the Cotswolds from London by train takes about 1.5 hours and trains run every hour, 7 days a week
- The cost is about £20 (price based on booking a week in advance)
- There’s a direct link from Heathrow Airport. Trains from London depart from Paddington Station
- Although train services don’t cover the whole of the Cotswolds it’s possible to travel to and from Bath, Cheltenham, Stratford, Chippenham, Gloucester, Kemble, Moreton-in-Marsh, Kingham and Oxford
- Car hire available from Bath, Cheltenham, and Oxford or London, cost about £60 per day
- Cotswolds climate considered pleasantly mild by British standards
- About two hours to drive to the Cotswolds from London
- The Secret Cottage Cotswold Tourism Tours cost is £85 pp which includes all food and drink
- More info: Cotswold Tourism Tours