As September rolls around, a sudden sense of urgency starts to set in. The days start to shorten, the lights takes on a golden hue and the mornings have a little bit of a bite to them. All signs that Autumn is on the way. This year, I am going into Autumn kicking and screaming. I have enjoyed the long, light summer nights oh so very much and the thought of having to stay in each night fills me with such a feeling of loss and longing. So, this time of year I suddenly want to make the most of every little glimpse of daylight, good weather and warmth that we have.
It was a Bank Holiday Monday and actually not the best of weather compared to the gloriousness that we’d been previously blessed with the in weeks before. It was overcast and a little cooler but still dry and there was no excuse to waste it whiling away in doors so I coerced my ever so well tempered house mate into going for a little foray into the Cotswolds.
First stop was a to Whittington to visit a garden which was open as part of the National Open Gardens scheme (more about that in another post) but after we’d had our fill of flowers and cake it seemed a little early to be heading home so we decided to head over to The Slaughters. I had spotted photos of the Slaughters on @mrchrisspeed’s feed and something about them really spoke to me. I’d been to visit them once over ten years ago and couldn’t really remember what they were like and after seeing these photos was desperate to see them again.
Driving through the Cotswolds is enough of a treat in itself sometimes. We pulled the car over a couple of times to take snaps and enjoy the view. We even made a little detour through Guiting Power just because it sounded quaint and pretty and indeed it was.
We started with Upper Slaughter, the smaller of the two villages first. We were a little worried about parking. Being a Bank Holiday Monday we were expecting to have to scour and fight for a parking spot as a little googling had revealed that there weren’t any car parks but we must have gotten lucky because it was surprisingly quiet and we found a space no problem.
With camera in hand (well, actually cameras plural this time because I was testing out a little compact) we had a little wander. The little spot where the water flows through the village is a beautiful scene to behold and felt wonderfully peaceful too. I enjoyed watching some children in wellies splash about. The water was low enough at this time of year (and after a very dry spell) for cars to drive through like a ford so we had to move out of the way to accommodate those passing through.
I’m just going to take a minute here to address the names of these little villages – Slaughter. It doesn’t exactly conjure up images of picturesque pretty places does it? Well it turns out that Slaughter in its time was just another word for Slough that means “on the water” and seeing as how both Upper and Lower Slaughter are indeed on the water this makes a great deal more sense. I was relieved to find that they weren’t named due to some mass slaughtering or the such. Phew! Upper Slaughter is also above Lower Slaughter geographically, so again this seems most sensical.
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting but Upper Slaughter seemed much smaller and sleepier than I thought it would be. There was a good collection of houses and a church right in the centre but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. No matter, onto Lower Slaughter to see what that had in store for us.
Now Lower Slaughter was a whole different ball game. As we entered into the village we were greeted with crowds and music and bunting everywhere. There was a party going on and Lower Slaughter was definitely the place to be. This little place was welcoming the tourists with welcome arms and clearly celebrating the long weekend.
Again we got super lucky with parking and managed to get a spot right on the main road through the village. We got out of the car and were immediately caught up in the festivities going on. There were so many more people here and so much happening – music and marquees, stalls and celebrations. We made our way along the water taking in the atmosphere and the crazy pretty scenes as we went. Despite the chillier temperatures people were playing in the water here too.
We followed the water up and around a corner to reveal a quaint little mill nestled at the end of the village. I was one of many people who had stopped to snap a photo of this spot. Up past the mill we found a little gathering of shops and a pub where we stopped to peruse the goodies and giftware. No tourist spot is complete without mugs and fridge magnets showcasing the local venue.
It was getting quite late in the afternoon by this point and sadly much of the festivities were ending and people were packing everything down but it was still lovely just to wander about and take in the happy feeling all around.
One of the things that I love the most about summer is how people are just so ready to celebrate the littlest of things. We English make cake and hang bunting and there’s just so much simplicity and merriment in that. I say, may these needless but wonderful traditions continue forever more.
A few things to think about if you’re planning a visit to The Upper & Lower Slaughter:
Location: Upper Slaughter & Lower Slaughter, The Cotswolds, Gloucestershire
Parking: Beware of the lack of places to park. We got very lucky and managed to find a spot in both places. If it’s likely to be a busy day (say Saturday in the summer holidays) then it would be worth going very early in the morning or later towards the evening to avoid disappointment.
In the area: It’s worth making a day of it and visiting some of the other wonderful places in the area too. Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold are just minutes down the road and well worth a visit. In fact, it’s suggested on Trip Advisor that you can park at Bourton and walk over to Lower Slaughter so if you are unable to park that could be a good back up plan. They are very close to Batsford Arboretum and Sezincote House too.