Paddington Railway Station (meet by the main ticket office - it's near Platforms 1 & 2) | Map
Guided by Richard
Short version: The achingly beautiful Cotswolds.
Medium version: The Cotswolds of thatched roofs and honey-coloured stone and cottages wreathed in wisteria and honeysuckle. The Cotswolds of stone bridges and old mills and millponds. The Cotswolds of storybook villages and matchless flower gardens. The Cotswolds of... well, of rural England at its best.
Long version: High end, extremely high quality tours. That's what we do. The catch – you're going to like the catch – is we do them at a very reasonable price.* In short, if you're thinking of going to The Cotswolds and you've found your way to this page you've drawn to an inside straight and hit it. To get this into perspective run a couple of comparisons. Sure, there are other ways of getting to The Cotswolds. You can hire a driver guide. Cost you hundreds of pounds and you'll have less time in The Cotswolds because battling through London traffic and pounding along the motorway takes a lot longer than going by train. You can hire a car and drive up there yourself. Same time constraints and it'll cost you a whole lot more than going with us. Car rentals aren't cheap. And that's not to mention the toll on your nerves that goes with the territory of driving in unfamiliar places. If it were a steeplechase – Richard's savvy and years of experience over against you behind the wheel of a rental car and being completely unfamiliar with the course – well, I know which horse I'd back. And as for coach tours to the Cotswolds – well, you might save £5 to £10 but it's a textbook example of a false economy. Going by rail is much faster and much more comfortable than going by coach. Battling through London traffic and grinding out the miles on the motorway – well, your £5 to £10 "saved" is going to cost you precious hours in The Cotswolds. It's no saving at all. Divide the cost by the number of hours you get in The Cotswolds you'll find that the per hour cost of going on a coach tour is a whole lot more than the per hour cost of going with us. Nobody else does it the way we do it. They can't. They're locked in to their expensive "infrastructure" – their coaches, their cars, etc. The tourist hordes don't do it the way we do it. They would if they were lucky enough to find us. But they don't find us. We're not on their radar. Their loss. But you're not them. You're not tourists, you're savvy, discerning independents. You have found us. You've won. You're going to have the best possible trip to The Cotswolds. Good going.
*The key is our low fixed costs – i.e., running London Walks off our kitchen table. That translates into extremely high quality tours at a very reasonable price.
Now, a few particulars. Yes, we go by train. From Paddington Railway Station (see below). Richard – a top flight, professionally qualified guide (in an earlier incarnation he was an actor) who knows The Cotswolds inside and out, he's guided up there for over 20 years – will be with you the whole day. From the Paddington meet up to bringing you right back to Paddington Station at day's end.
When our train gets us to The Cotswolds we're met by the local coach Richard's chartered for us. We do four villages and lots of countryside. So you'll see a great deal of Cotswolds countryside and Cotswolds village life. We're of course only in the coach while we're seeing some Cotswolds countryside, going from one village to another. When we get to our villages we get out and walk. And that's when the magic really kicks in. You'll have taken to Richard from the get-go. He's friendly, urbane, charming, witty, warm, fun. (And that's not to mention that special gift of his – his "honeyed voice.") But when we get out and walk it's case closed. Richard knows country houses – he lives in one (when he's not living in his house in Cape Town or his penthouse flat in London). His partner's a designer. They restore old houses. He knows about these things. Whether it's thatching or stonework or window setts or whatever. He's connected. People there know him. His recommendations for your lunch break are small pieces of perfection. (I hope it goes without saying that we don't herd you into some tourist trap that we've "got a deal with" – i.e., get a kick-back from. We're London Walks – we don't do tacky stuff like that.)
Anything else? Yes, attention to detail. The small things that make a big difference. When we're in the villages the driver stays with the coach. You can leave your gear in the coach in the complete confidence that it'll be ok. I said we use the local coach to village hop – but two of the villages – Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter – are very close together. Some of you, some of us, will choose to walk from the one to the other. Others won't. That's ok, they'll take the coach. It works a treat.
In sum: it's fun; it's fascinating; it's efficient; it's relaxed (Richard's the perfect host – he takes the worry out of it). It just works. It'll be one of the best – one of the most memorable – days of your life. Memories make us rich.
The Cotswolds in Spring. You have to catch this one when you can. We go there on the following Sundays: June 4, June 18, July 2, July 16, July 30, August 13, August 27, September 10 and September 24. The meeting time for the Sunday trips is 9 am.
We also go there on Saturday, October 14 and Saturday, October 28. The meeting time for the Saturday trips is 8.45 am.
The meeting point is by the main ticket office – it's near Platforms 1 & 2 – of Paddington Railway Station. Richard is easy to spot. He looks like he's stepped straight out of the pages of Gentleman's Quarterly. He's always topped to the north with his famous red cap. And he'll be holding up a sign that says LONDON WALKS.
What's the cost? The cost is made up of the guide's fee – which is £18 for adults, £16 for students and over 65s and £14 for people with the London Walks Discount Card – plus the Tariff (train and coach fares). The adult Tariff for the Cotswolds Tour is £46 (there are further reductions for students and seniors). For children under 15 accompanied by their parent(s) a reduced Tariff is the only charge. For the total cost of the Cotswolds Tour simply add the guide's fee to the Tariff.
The Tariffs – fares, admissions where applicable, etc. – for London Walks Day Trips are as a rule quite a bit cheaper than what you'd pay were you to "go it alone" with your fares, etc. But if you've got, say, a Brit Rail Card or some other super cheap deal that's better than the one we get for you the cost of the trip will be pro-rated accordingly. You'll never have to pay twice or pay over the odds.
Preview the tour and the guiding. Watch the video.
"Best Tourism Experience in England" Gold Medal Winner, Visit England
"London Walks was acknowledged as the premier walking tour company in the entire world" American Tour Guides Convention
If you can't make any of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, public Cotswolds Tours do think about booking one as a private* tour. If you go private you can have The Cotswolds Tour – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We'll tailor it to your requirements. And – always with private tours and walks – we go to great lengths to make sure the guide-walker(s) "fit" is well nigh perfect. Ring Fiona or Noel on 020 7624 3978 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll set it up and make it happen for you. Makes a fabulous wedding present or birthday gift or anniversary outing. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that's special. Memories make us rich.
*To be sure, a private Cotswolds Tour for an individual or a couple is more expensive than going on one of the public tours. But if money's no object... Other side of that coin: for a medium-size group a private Cotswolds Tour will be in same price range as – can even be less than – the just-turn-up, public tours!
It all comes down to the guiding. If you're not assessing you're guessing – buying a pig in a poke.
In addition to the two Spring trips to The Cotswolds we go several times in the Summer (click here for particulars). And twice in the Autumn: on Saturday, October 14 and Saturday, October 28. And for the record, we do a completely different tour of The Cotswolds – different route, different villages – on our Oxford & The Cotswolds trip, which takes place every Wednesday from May 24 - October 4.