A day in the Cotswolds
October 01, 2019 by Extinction Rebellion
The Great Western Railway website performs a useful calculation when I book my ticket for a Cotswolds day out. Making this trip by train I’m responsible for 58% less CO2 than if I’d gone by car. As we begin to take the true environmental cost of travel seriously, expect to see much more of this extra detail.
I chose the Cotswolds because it’s a perfect destination for our carbon-conscious times, as we redefine what we understand by tourism. What counts as a satisfying leisure trip? Does a day out (ideally by public transport) among this region’s gorgeous golden stones leave you any
less spiritually fulfilled than the energy-intensive long haul to Angkor Wat?
Cotswolds prosperity was founded on the Middle Ages equivalent of oil revenue: the wool trade. But in terms of aesthetic legacy, the constructions in golden stone those riches funded, from the sumptuous wool churches to the elegant field walls that thread up and over so many hills, display none of the gaudy extravagance financed by petro-dollars.
They form a splendid gilded border to the wide boulevard through the heart of Moreton-in- Marsh. Hotels, tea shops, galleries and, as far as I can see, not a single familiar national catering or retail name. My favourite golden memory is the Victorian Infant School, now a private house.
Evenlode is a perfect example of the Cotswold village, seeming to grow organically out of the soft hills, valleys and little woods.
JB Priestley summed up the buildings’ ineffable colour. “Even when the light is cold, these walls are still faintly warm and luminous, as if they knew the trick of keeping the lost sunlight of centuries.”
I reach the edge of the National Trust’s Chastleton House estate. My path falls away to Adlestrop. Before me, in reverse, is Edward Thomas’s vision of ever-widening circles of singing birds. There is memory of Jane Austen’s three stays in the village, and her story is told in the church.
As I cross the station footbridge my train, sleek, new, fast, and a harbinger of better public transport to come, glides in.