The English Cotswolds, a range of scenic hills with picturesque towns, are designated an AONB: Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We are lucky to live not far from there. From a web article Literary Cotswolds:
"The Cotswolds town and area surrounding Moreton-in-Marsh inspired the fantasy world created by J.R.R. Tolkien, who was a regular visitor. Moreton is thought to be Bree in Lord of the Rings and The Bell Inn in the heart of the town is the inspiration for The Prancing Pony. The Four Shire Stone (Three Farthing Stone), The Rollright Stones (Barrow Downs) and Broadway Tower (Amon Hen) are all only a few miles from Moreton.
As a devoted fan of both Tolkien and beautiful scenery, I was excited to visit this slice of England. On Robin's "Intro to the Cotswolds" tour with Jim and Eileen last weekend, we did see the Rollright Stones and the towns of Broadway, Chipping Campden and Chipping Norton.
It is indeed captivating scenery. We even ran into some people dressed up to celebrate the Fall Equinox at the Rollright Stones, which date from 4000 BC! (We guessed to call the costumed people "Druids" - there does seem to be such a self-described group in the Cotswolds.)
Despite the mystique of this ancient site, I thought the area around Stonehenge, about a hundred miles south and which I visited many years ago, was more evocative of Tolkien's Barrow Downs. But on our next Cotswold trip, we'll be sure to stop in Moreton-in-Marsh.
Meanwhile, the town of Chipping Norton boasts the Blue Boar Pub, where we got a reservation for Sunday Roast Dinner. Think roasted meat, potatoes, misc. vegetables, a Yorkshire pudding (popover), and lots of gravy. This is a ubiquitous English tradition and suffice it to say, we will be back to the Blue Boar.
Finally, for you poetry lovers: "T.S. Eliot was a regular visitor to Chipping Campden, and often went walking in the Cotswold hills with his friend Emily Hale. His...wonderful children’s poem, The Country Walk, highlights his fear of cows whilst on one of his Cotswold rambles!"