Ever heard of Backroads? They're an "active" travel company based in Berkeley, California. Make that a premiere active tour company. Or, so they deem themselves (I wouldn't disagree). If you're among the active sort and you prefer to travel active as well, chances are you'll be a fan of Backroads.
For a dismal three years, Covid brought our (and everyone else's) international travel hobby to a screaching halt. Jeff and I were thrilled that 2022 would be the year for international travel lovers to get back to flying over seas. Typically, we've always mapped out our preferred routes, activities and sites to see. Backroads entered our minds because we were at a loss for where to begin after being domesitcally contained for so long.
Thus, we handed the reins of our first post-covid Europe trip over to Backroads Active Travel. Our route-mapping and activity-list making was in the hands of pros. And boy did they perform. We hiked, and hiked, and ate and ate all over Cotswold, England in active style.
Our cup runneth over with charming villages, churches, castles, meadows, streams, and cozy eateries. A smorgasbord of English countryside! At times, I marvelled, never having dreamed that I would cover so much terriotory [on foot] around England. It was magical. All thanks to Backroads.
There were meticulously groomed, extensive gardens:
Fields of sheep grazing under blue sky:
and hiked over meadows,
staying at homes originally build in 1697 (Barnsley House).
We made friends with wonderful people,
took selfies in our room that happened to have stupendous lighting.
We hiked on,
photographing homes and gardens galore.
We hiked more,
and we continued hiking.
The churches we passed by were spectacular. One had a robe in it that was hundreds of years old.
We continued hiking.
At times we followed a public footpath,
and other times we hiked over private property.
We kept going.
There was an evening where we learned all about how gin is distilled. I can't remember too much about it. Not because I drank too much. I barely sipped a taste. More because my brain isn't holding as much these days :)
But I do know that all of the infused scents came from various items below (bay leaf, lavender, etc.).
We tasted four different gins. I liked the one below best!
We kept hiking. If it sounds arduous, it really wasn't.
Except, one day I asked for ice in the hotel lobby after cutting a day short.
No worries though, I was back at it the next day.
We had lunch at a private home which was a special treat. The family lived on and ran a sheep farm. They were friendly, hospitable and made everyone feel welcome.
We saw castles,
and churches on the castle grounds.
We had wonderful meal after wonderful meal.
And then we kept going.
We passed wildlife art structures
and more castles.
Onward again through lovely meadows,
passing only one tree that had seen better days.
The weather was absolutely incredible.
We could not have asked for more picture-perfect days.
Many churches in England have replaced the cross on the outside with a weather vane. I enjoyed seeing the occasional cross that still stood.
We carried on again,
Final evening reception where one of our guides, Ian, served Pims Cups, a Queen's favorite.
Backroads isn't kidding when they say they're "active" travel. Being in shape is a good idea if you consider booking a tour with Backroads. However, any time you get tired, Backroads has it meticulously figured out on how to sweep you up and get you back to a premiere hotel. Their planning is truly spot on. Jeff and I are happy that we chose Backroads to get us back in the swing of European travel.
Next time, we're looking forward to giving it a go on our own. And, hopefully, another Backroads jaunt will be in our future too. Maybe: Finland/Sweden...
Thanks for reading!