When we first decided to plan a one-week road trip through England, the whole idea was to spend the majority of our time in cozy inns and pubs in picturesque villages in the countryside. So when we started doing our research to try to track down the perfect candidates, one name consistently came up: Castle Combe. It only took a quick Google image search to convince us that this village in the southernmost reaches of the Cotswolds should somehow make its way into our itinerary. Luckily, the village is conveniently located directly between Bath and Thornbury Castle, both of which were places we had already decided to visit. The drive from Bath to Castle Combe took about 30 minutes and it was every bit as scenic as it was stressful. The biggest challenge of driving in the English countryside has nothing to do with driving on the left; rather, the roads are barely wide enough for two sheep to walk side by side without brushing shoulders, let alone automobiles.
Once we started our final approach into the village, it started to feel like we were entering a mystical domain. First of all, there were no other cars in sight and the only street sign we saw told us that the narrow road on which we were driving was called “The Street”. That’s it. Just “The Street”. We figured we just misread the sign, but Google Maps later confirmed that the street that leads to Castle Combe from the south is in fact called “The Street”. The road (or should I say the street), began running parallel to a small swan-filled stream crossed by a few small foot bridges. Luckily someone had posted a very helpful sign warning us to reduce our speed due to the presence of ducks. Thank goodness I saw the sign and slowed my speed from 10 mph to 5 mph or some innocent duck could have been seriously injured.
As we continued driving we entered the center of the village after crossing over a small bridge and passing a row of typical Cotswold-style houses with smoke billowing from the chimneys. The most iconic view comes just before crossing this bridge and with the fog rolling through, it really felt like we were in a fairy tale. To be honest, there really isn’t much to do in Castle Combe per se. There are a couple inns, a pub, a coffee shop, a church…and that’s just about it. This isn’t somewhere you go to for fun an excitement, but the fact that there were so few people and basically no activity added to the bucolic charm of the village. We spent some time just walking up the main street and popped into the bar at the Castle Inn Hotel briefly for a hot chocolate. Even just a quick stop in Castle Combe was well worth it. We passed through a few other Cotswold towns along our route, but Castle Combe was far and away the most beautiful. It comes as no surprise that the village has been used numerous times as a filming location for movies such as Dr. Doolittle (the one from 1967 not the one with Eddie Murphy), War Horse, and Downton Abbey. If there is a more picturesque village anywhere in England, I would love someone to show me.