The Cotswolds: Second Edition

Cheltenham Spa to Stratford-Upon-Avon
(2 transfers at Birmingham New Street and Birmingham Moor Street)
Travel Time: 2 h
Total: £13

Our second day in the Cotswolds was spent in William Shakespeare’s birthplace: Stratford-Upon-Avon. I’ve read Shakespearean plays since I was ten years old due to my fifth grade teacher. We would study one play throughout the year and put on our own performance at the end of the year for our parents and celebrity guests (my year was “Comedy of Errors”). I ended up joining his Saturday program where we continued to study Shakespearean plays and visit Ashland, Oregon every summer to watch live performances of the plays we studied. We put on performances as a group for veteran Shakespearean actors like Sir Peter Hall and Sir Patrick Stewart and our favorite, Sir Ian McKellan. I mean we were called the Hobart Shakespeareans! 

We kind of hit a speed bump on our way to Stratford-Upon-Avon. We didn’t realise that Birmingham New Street and Birmingham Moor Street were two separate stations so we ended up missing our original connection. We did get on the next train but it did delay our visit by a solid hour.

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Shakespeare’s Birthplace Entrance Fee: £15.75
You can purchase tickets online at a discount here

Our first top was of course, Shakespeare’s Birthplace. You can purchase a combo ticket to visit other landmarks in Stratford-Upon-Avon like Anne Hathaway’s Cottage or Shakespeare’s New Place but we decided to limit our visit to the Birthplace only to make time for the Holy Trinity Church.

At Shakespeare’s Birthplace, you go on a one-hour tour and learn about how Shakespeare grew up in the house with his siblings and the first few years he spent in the house with his wife Anne Hathaway. It was really interesting to learn that his family was pretty well-off and his father owned the largest house on their street (while also being the mayor). There was a photo of Shakespeare hanging on the wall so I also went along with the Birthplace’s hashtag: #SelfiewithShakespeare.

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After our tour of the Birthplace, we walked to the riverside to head over to the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was buried. There is a suggested donation of £3 to see his gravestone so make sure you have some coins. His gravestone is cordoned off and I was able to read the famous inscription that was burned in my memory since the fifth grade:

“Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.”

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Aside from a quick pastry and coffee in the morning, we didn’t eat much throughout the day since we were saving our appetites for afternoon tea so we decided to go to one of the tea salons that one of my friends had on her list called Hathaway Tea Room. It’s a historic cafe with a beamed ceiling and oak floor so it gives off a very cosy feel. We ordered Afternoon Tea for 3 and it was…a lot of food. It was great though for £15 per person for sandwiches, scones, and sweets with pots of tea, it’s super cheap (especially compared to the prices in London). Our waiter was so adorable and was telling us that he really likes the food but employees aren’t really supposed to eat them since they’re for the guests. He mentioned that one of the highlights of his day working there was getting to eat a burnt scone! I think we were all pretty obsessed with him during our tea.

The best part about Hathaway Tea Room is that they have a small shop downstairs where you can purchase teapots and tea blends – I actually did end up buying a teapot and two kinds of tea leaves so that I can have my own afternoon tea at work with shortbread.

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Once we had our fill with tea, we shopped around town a little bit – I purchased a sweater from White & Company and a forest green coat. But we did have to head back to Winchcombe since we had to get up really early to catch the morning train to Penrith in the Lake District so we took the train back to Cheltenham.

Stratford-Upon-Avon to Cheltenham Spa
(2 transfers at Birmingham Moor Street and Birmingham New Street)
Travel Time: 2 h
Total: £13

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There are also a few walking trails in the Cotswolds that we were unable to fit into our schedule but still definitely on the list for next time:

  • Stanton, Snowshill and the Edge
    • Longer route: 6 miles (Duration: 4 hours)
    • Shorter route: 2.5 miles (Duration: 2 hours)
    • Level of Difficulty: Moderate
  • Cleeve Hill Common ring
    • Longer route: 6 miles (Duration: 4 hours)
    • Shorter route: 4 miles (Duration: 2.5 hours)
    • Level of Difficulty: Moderate


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