Driving in the Cotswolds as a visitor

Driving around England can be a bit of challenge to those used to driving on the right hand side of the road and our Cotswold lanes may be rather narrower than the highways and byways you are used to.  Added to this, being in control of an unfamiliar car with the steering wheel on the right. 

However, when people ask me, “is a car necessary” when they are planning a visit, I reply that it is not necessary if you just want to live in the cottage and walk or cycle round the area (although you will need a taxi from the station to actually arrive in the first place) but if you really want to explore the beauty of the North Cotswolds from our village base, then by far the easiest means to get you around is with your own car.  Our local bus services are patchy and almost impossible on Sundays.  You may find you have either too long or too short a time between buses if you want to go somewhere and come back again.  You are not your own master. 

I would recommend, when renting a car that you do not jump at the opportunity to upgrade when they try to impress/flatter you with an offer of a bigger car than you have paid for at the rental place! On the roads around us and the surrounding North Cotswolds villages there is a high likelihood that there could be stone walls and hedges either side of the narrow lanes increasing the chances of scratching a rented/hired car.   

You really want the smallest car they are offering and that will fit you.  You will find manoeuvring, stopping in overtaking pull ins ( usually found on single track or extremely narrow roads, but not always....) reversing, etc. a whole lot easier in a small car.  Remember also that if you are visiting towns or cities such as Oxford, that street parking is difficult. You will most likely have to park in a public car park which may well be a multi-storey.  Most of these multi-storeys were designed when nearly everyone had dinky little cars and spaces allocated are completely unsuited to the wide SUV's of today so even in a little car, you may find you are squeezing into a narrow little space between two of these monsters. 

For those unfamiliar with them, you really need to read up on roundabouts so you know how to deal with those.  Especially confusing for the 'tourist' driver are what are known as experimental roundabouts.  These are the ones where the driving circle is just marked on the road, barely raised.  The high ones with grass and trees on hide the traffic coming from in front of you so really you just concentrate on everything emerging from the right, to which you must give way. There are some good diagrams to explain here  https://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/roundabouts.html