Cotswold-related books

Books about the Cotswolds - places to visit, walk, cycle or novels set in the Cotswolds: (This is an ongoing project and I am always grateful to hear of new recommendations - I may not be completely up to date with editions if they have brought out a new one I have missed)  Sansome House Cottage is in the perfect position for walks from the door and of course a multitude of walks within a short drive.

I have put links to AmazonUK for nearly all of these books in the paperback editions but of course nearly all of them are available to read on Kindle as well with some offering audible downloads for the Kindle or other MP3 devices. For guide books it is easier to have that tucked in your pocket and some like the Short walks in the Cotswolds include ordnance survey maps. Some links to Amazon may not work.  If you fail to get in, click on a book which does get in and do a search based on title.

Firstly if you are coming to stay in Ilmington - some background on the last 6,000 years or so.  A Cotswold Village: Ilmington from 4,000 BC to the present 

The Rough Guide to the Cotswolds  I have lived in the Cotswolds for 40+ years and even I have discovered some new and interesting places to visit from reading this book.  Click through to the latest edition.

For the intrepid, the entire Cotswold Way from Chipping Campden to Bath is laid out in stages in this book, each chapter representing a day's walk.  If you are clever with your timings you can work out a way of doing sections which are not too far to drive to from the cottage and getting a local bus back to your car. The Cotswold Way:National Trail Guide  2016 version.

This is one I haven't read but it has been recommended by someone else Tea Shop Walks in the Cotswolds and it sounds like it would give your hike more purpose!This was published in 1996 and appears to be out of print but there are few copies available on Amazon uk from time to time.  Some of the tea shops may have closed of course but new ones open all the time so I don't think you will starve.

A lot of these books were published some years ago and have not been updated but for most or all of them, you will find the routes unchanged. For several good walks in the area, try North Cotswold Classic Walks  This one has 50 walks listed of which approximately 25 are within half an hour's drive of the cottage (10-30 mins) for the starting point and some walkable directly. And another: 50 Walks in the Cotswolds.  Pathfinder:Cotswolds  comes in for fulsome praise by Amazon readers.

Short Walks in the Cotswolds is excellent for its full descriptions of the terrain so you can plan well if you have someone who might not be able to manage steep climbs or muddy terrain.  From the description: "INCLUDES: * 20 easy to follow walks which can be completed in 3 hours and under. * Of course, not all walks are close to us as some are in the South Cotswolds. Each walk has a detailed 1:25 000 Ordnance Survey map with the route clearly marked and a detailed description of the route.The walks have been chosen with issues like parking and refreshments in mind...". It is also pocket sized for ease of carrying and this is the 2014 edition.

For those who favour more challenging terrain and longer walks (whole or half day walks), published in 2016, is Walking in the Cotswolds : 30 circular routes in the AONB.  About 8 of these walks are within half an hour's drive. The others are south of Cheltenham.  I see a comment on Amazon that the directions are not always easy so bring a good map as well!  A guide which involves circular walks and involves a pub along the way sounds appealing.  

FREEBIES!  Some free walking guides available :  on the Cotswold Escapes website a really excellent collection of walks and accompanying maps which are downloadable for free. 

For something you can easily shove in your pocket, an older guide, Pocket Pub Walks (published 2011) has well set out circular pub walks of between 3 and 61/2 miles.  The majority are in the South Cotswolds, with only about 6 in the North Cotswolds and within 20-40 mins drive from the cottage (but the drives are nice!)


Maps of the area

In the Explorer series The Cotswolds and Stratford upon Avon district both have Ilmington on the borders of the maps.  I provide both of these (and others) in the cottage with a plea not to forget to put them back when you leave (they get left in the glove compartment so the rental car places must have quite a collection now!).

For those interested in the archaeology of the Cotswold Way try this archaeological guide The Cotswold Way: An Archaeological Walking Guide (Archaeological Walking Guides) 

For Garden enthusiasts:  The Cotswolds' Finest Gardens  I gave this as a present to a French 'inlaw' who was delighted by it.  It includes our very own local garden at Hidcote Manor;  an older book (2004) Cotswold Gardens by David Hicks; and even earlier (1991) Over the Hills from Broadway

For cycling, the 2014 edition of  Cotswold: Cycling Country Lanes and Traffic free routes may be worth a look although I have no first hand experience of it.

You will find older but probably still relevant books on the subject also on Amazon but I don't have personal knowledge of them although I can vouch for the beauty of the countryside youY will cycle through!  (For the leisure cyclist, please be assured that bicycles may be hired locally and delivered to the cottage where they can be stored in the adjoining garage). Published in 2014 is Cycling in the Cotswolds by Chiz Dakin

For gardening enthusiasts and those who just love looking at gardens The Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds offers a glimpse into gorgeous private gardens, most of which can be visited (they list the details in the book).

And for those who like a spooky background to their travels, try Ghosts and Witches of the Cotswolds  which includes Ilmington in the tales of the supernatural around the area.

A murder mystery set a few miles away in Broad Campden is Rebecca Tope's A Grave in the Cotswolds  This is just one in a series of 16 - The Cotswold Mysteries.  The latest (2019) one is called Secrets in the Cotswolds  This one, Peril in the Cotswolds is set also in Broad Campden

Although Colin Dexter's hero, Inspector Morse lives in Oxford, he frequently makes it over the Cotswold boundary to solve yet another murder. If you like detective books, these novels and the TV series which sprang from them are addictive, so be warned.... a hotel in Chipping Norton features in The Secret of Annexe 3  and of course the first Inspector Morse mystery - Last Bus to Woodstock, included here with the 2nd and 3rd novel.

Another Cotswold murder mystery based around a walking tour - Walking into Murder by Joan Dahr Lambert - there is a kindle version

The famous Mitford sisters lived at several houses in the Cotswolds, the nearest to Ilmington being Batsford House at Moreton in Marsh (the parkland surrounding the house is open to the public as The Batsford Arboretum). Nancy Mitford wrote some particularly entertaining books - Love in a Cold Climate  being just one hilariously funny book about her life growing up in this eccentric family.

For Jane Austen fans - read about her visits to Adelstrop and Stoneleigh Abbey in Victoria Huxley's book,Jane Austen - her other family  

For a gentle read about life in the Cotswolds in the 50's and 60's (but, except for the fact that most of the farms are not now working ones within the confines of the village, actually life has not much changed in our village!), try some of the Miss Read books set in the fictional Cotswold village of Thrush Green. For example Friends at Thrush Green 

For a feel good, light, holiday reading, romance, A Cotswold Christmas about an American spending Christmas in England.

In the 'Aga Saga' genre, Joanna Trollope's characters are nearly all based in the Cotswolds. For example The Rector's Wife 

For mid-life romance in a Cotswold setting try Paradise Fields

For something more raunchy, the horse riding characters of Jilly Cooper's novels may excite your Cotswold interest. Her most recent one is Mount

Winner of a travel writing award but this book, Americashire: a Field Guide to a Marriage is much more than that.  Published in 2013.  This is a link to the Kindle edition