Ilmington is a very pretty village set amidst the rolling hills of the Ilmington Downs, on the Warwickshire/Gloucestershire border, the highest point in Warwickshire being just a mile away. Climbing or driving to the top of the hill, you can enjoy quite spectacular views over the closely neighbouring counties of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire.
Well away from the main roads, and not one frequented by tour buses or large groups of people, most visitors to Ilmington are either happily lost or they are are walkers or cyclists and others are those who come to sample locally brewed beers and good food.
Ilmington is in a conservation area and is the only village in Warwickshire in the designated Area of Natural Beauty (ANOB) that is the Cotswolds - an area of hills that stretches South as far as Bath.
The houses in Ilmington, some which, like our holiday cottage, are conversions of old farm buildings, are built mainly of the local honey coloured stone, typical of this area. Cotswold stone glows golden in the sunshine. The Norman tower of the Church of St Mary the Virgin has stood in the centre of Ilmington for approximately 10 centuries. Inside can be found the intriguing wooden furniture of Robert Thompson with his signature of carved mice. Children love to try and find each one of the eleven hidden away on the pews, pulpit etc. The church cannot be reached by road but from the extensive network of narrow footpaths which run throughout the village.
There are two pubs in Ilmington, both about 3 mins walk from the cottage on footpaths. The Howard Arms and the Red Lion. Both do food (10% discount at the Howard Arms if you are staying at our cottage) and both have excellent beer. The Red Lion has 'Old Hooky' beer and does light lunches as well as evening dining. There is an excellent community village shop (mainly staffed by local volunteers so you can be sure of a good chin wag on a visit there) with a café attached, open most days for coffee and cakes, light lunches and afternoon tea. There are shops in Shipston and other villages around about 5 minutes drive away and a Waitrose supermarket 10 minutes away. And then of course, Ilmington is home to the Ilmington Morris Men, who, if they are not in Ilmington can be found on Wednesday evenings (usually), from St George's Day to September, dancing at pubs and other venues in the area.
The tennis club welcomes visiting players with two courts, floodlit for evening play. There is a children’s playground and the Sports Club also regularly holds cricket and football matches in season. The playing fields are 5 minutes walk from the cottage. On August Bank Holiday they are the site of the Ilmington Horticultural Show. This is the annual fete which is the major village event of the year. 3 miles away, Charingworth Manor welcomes non-residents to its leisure facilities.
Almost all the villages and towns of the area have visit-worthy features so you have a multiple choice of where to go each day – perhaps a cream tea in Chipping Campden, an old wool marketing town, complete with ancient Wool Market building in its renowned beautiful High Street, antique browsing in Broadway, Moreton in Marsh and Stow on the Wold, exploring many lesser known but beautiful villages in this area, and further on admiring the beautiful buildings and delights of Woodstock, Burford and Oxford.
4 miles east is the delightful town of Shipston on Stour. The Sunday Times voted its High Street in the top 10 in the country. See this link for more information. Seven miles north of Ilmington is the bustling town of Stratford upon Avon, which, to Shakespeare fans, needs no introduction but is also excellent for shopping with many small shops as well as the well known High Street chains. Within a 10 mile radius are golf courses at Brailes, Welford and Stratford, riding at Stanway and Moreton, tennis in the village, fishing, racing at Stratford and Warwick and many more outdoor activities available within easy driving distance.
There are numerous houses and gardens (a lot of them National Trust properties - most notably Hidcote Garden) you can visit in the area as well as places of particular beauty and historical interest. Warwick, with its famous castle is 16 miles but of course there are other less known castles in the region.
There are regular Farmer's Markets, Craft Fairs, Music and Literary festivals throughout the year and of course village fetes in the summer (Ilmington Show is on August Bank holiday Monday). Several large files of information are kept up to date in the cottage to help you decide where to visit each day. I also have books about the Cotswolds.
The flatter land to the north of Ilmington suits the leisure cyclist whereas the sporty cyclists can tackle some very steep hills out of the village in the other directions. It is easy to find quiet, relatively traffic-light roads, even in high summer. The walking country is all around, making decision making difficult as there is so much choice. Walking, cycling and driving routes, together with maps are left in the cottage for you to borrow.
I leave maps in the cottage but if you want to plan your trip in advance with 'hard copy' rather than wander around google maps then these two are the ones to get. Ilmington lies near the edge of both so you might want to go off one map and onto the other. The Explorer series is good for the hiker and cyclist as it shows footpaths and bridle paths.
There are some good websites for walking plans to download in advance - This one caters mostly for those who want longer walks (around 10 miles). For shorter walks in the area try the Jubilee walks here. Here are "Pub walks" you can download to your smartphone.
Ilmington is of course in the Ilmington Downs - a range of rolling hills above the village. The highest point in Warwickshire is about 20 minutes walk from the cottage.