My friend and I recently set out on a 4-day road trip through the English countryside. We had a loosely planned itinerary. We started with a quick cruise through Oxford. Then stopped for dinner in West Berkshire before making our way to Bath for a few days to enjoy the town and the Jane Austen festival. Two days later we got back on the road and drove to the Cotswold village of Castle Combe. We then made our way up to Pemberley (for you non-Jane Austen fans that’s Derbyshire) in search of Mr. Darcy.
We managed to make it out of London and to Oxford in one piece. I must admit we missed a few exits, did a few extra loops in a roundabout or two and found ourselves driving up the M4 in the wrong direction for a solid 10 miles before either of us noticed. Although we were out of our comfort zone with the driving we chose to have fun and figured any detours were all part of the adventure!
We left Oxford in search of a place to grab some dinner. We pulled off the M4 after noticing a sign for the Crown & Horns. The Crown & Horns is a rustic yet charming restaurant and bar attached to a small hotel in West Berkshire. As we entered the bar it was pretty packed, the restaurant was much quieter. We were greeted by our server who appeared to be a 12 year-old boy. Aside from our baby-faced server, the food was tasty and I opted for the traditional dish of fish and chips.
We arrived in Bath late that evening and checked into the stunning country house hotel, Bailbrook House. Our accommodations came complete with a Jane Austen book. Naturally, I took home a copy of Pride & Prejudice. The following day we played dress-up at the Jane Austen center, perused the shops in town, took a guided tour of Bath, and strolled through Parade gardens. The week long festival was coming to an end and although we had missed many of the main festivities, Jane Austen fans could still be spotted all over town in full regency attire.
After two days in Bath we got on the road and headed to Castle Combe, one of the more famous Cotswold villages. As we approached Castle Combe it was as if I’d stepped into a storybook. I was pretty sure it was a fake village. It was incredibly picturesque…you couldn’t help but fall in love with the British flag waving in front of the village church and the adorable country cottages and inns covered in ivy. I even stumbled upon a Unicorn lodge. I mean how storybook is that? I didn’t want to leave but my friend and I had a date to have tea with Mr. Darcy so we got back on the road.
We drove under a canopy of trees as we came in and out of Castle Combe. It was beautiful. We couldn’t help but marvel at the scenery as we made our way to the M5. We were headed for Derbyshire and from Castle Combe it was about a 3-hour drive. We were on the M5 for most of the drive up and we were chatting away when I noticed a sign. I stopped mid-sentence as I enthusiastically pointed then shouted “SHERWOOD FOREST”!! I couldn’t believe it. This road-trip was becoming more and more of a storybook adventure. Although, we didn’t have time to stop and seek out Robin Hood it was still exciting to be that close to Sherwood forest.
We managed to see a lot in those first few days of our countryside road-trip. I didn’t want to leave the quaint villages and friendly people we’d encountered. Not to mention we’d had one brief encounter with the BBC version of Mr. Darcy in Bath. With Pemberley just a few hours away we simply couldn’t wait to see what kind of adventure would unfold for us there…