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There are a some places that make you genuinely proud to be British - that despite the constant rain and lack of sunshine you are in a breathtakingly beautiful country that inspired the artists, poets and writers to great works over the centuries.

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Holiday info:

Travel

First Great Western run up to 19 services a day from London Paddington to Kingham and Moreton-in-Marsh

Off peak returns start at £27, but there are normally offers and discounts available.

For more information call 08457 000 125 or visit firstgreatwestern.co.uk

Acommodation

Wyck Hill House Hotel

Stow-on-the-Wold

The Cotswolds

Gloucestershire

GL54 1HY

Tel:01451 831936

Web: www.wyckhillhousehotel.co.uk

Rooms start from £85 per room per night including bed and breakfast

One such place is the Windrush Valley and the area round Stow-on-the Wold. It’s a landscape of rolling green hills, gentle forests and incredibly attractive little villages.

Built in gorgeous Cotswold stone; Stow, Moreton-in-Marsh, Broadway and Bourton-on-the-Water - all in close proximity - are the epitome of rural England - thatched cottages, country pubs and tumbledown little bridges over babbling streams,

Despite seeming like a trip back in time, all this is a mere 90 minutes from London Paddington via First Great Western, so eminently reachable - although it has to be said the local taxi companies are well aware of the paucity of public transport and charge accordingly.

Our nest for this plunge into the countryside was the amazing Wyck Hill House Hotel - a former feudal home built around 1720.

As you walk into the impressive lobby with it’s imposing wooden staircase and period furnishings you know you are in for the luxurious stay.

It really is a grand old place and its history as an old school building becomes apparent when you start to explore - from the old bell visible half way up the stairs to the library bursting with leather bound books.

There are four different parts to the hotel - the very original building, the sympathetic new wing, the lovely little coach house, and orangery which has Mediterranean style tiling and rooms with patios.

After a restorative drink in the heated outdoor terrace we set about exploring the 100 acre grounds.

We strolled around the immaculately manicured lawns before heading into the woods where we seemed to be the only people for miles around.

A bridle way runs through the woods and it’s a short 45 minute stroll down the hill to Upper and Lower Slaughter, which really are like relics from days gone by and well worth a visit.

In the evening we dined barbecue style at The Inn in Fossebridge - a former 17th century coaching house - before heading back to our lodgings for a long, relaxing rest.

In the morning we made full use of the hotel’s spa facilities and emerged form the steam room in our fluffy robes feeling tickled and pink in equal measures.

The weather was obligingly clement so we sat on the terrace admiring the views over the valley whilst munching on a tasty chicken salad and a couple of shandies.

But all too soon, it was time to return to reality - but we headed home thoroughly relaxed from the luxurious break and fully invigorated from the clean country air.

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