Hi, I'm Rick Steves back with more of the best of Europe this time we're, exploring a gorgeous, region, where druids, dance and waterwheels. Turn, it's, the West of England thanks. For joining us. You. If. You like England and you want to mix its natural, historic, and cultural wonders, you'll, love the West while. Everything, in this episodes within a couple hours of London out here it feels, a world away from the big city, after. Hiking through picturesque, Cotswolds villages, will. Place shuffleboard, with an eccentric Laura. Will. Tour a striking, Cathedral and. Attend. Evensong. After. Going way back to the Neolithic Age we'll, zoom into the new image and we'll. Top it off with some hard, apple cider straight. From the farmer, Great. Britain is made of England Scotland and Wales and we're exploring the West of England starting. In the Cotswolds we, visit stow-on-the-wold, and chipping, Campton then it South to Wells Glastonbury. And the, prehistoric stone, circles, of Stonehenge, and Avebury. The. Cotswolds hills are dotted with enchanting, villages, and bucolic, farmland, and it's, all laced together by wonderful, trails this. Is the quintessential, English, countryside, and it's. Walking, country, the. Cotswolds, are best appreciated on foot and that's how we'll tour the area the. Region's made-to-order for tender feet you'll. Encounter time, past villages. Delightful. Vistas and. Poetic. Moments. You'll. Discover hidden stone bridges. Cut. Across fancy, front yards and. Enjoy. Close encounters, with lots, of sheep. The. English love their walks and defend, their age-old, right to free passage, and. They. Organize to assure that landowners. Respect, this law too. Any, paths found blocked are unceremoniously. Unblocked. While. Landlords, have plenty of fences, they, provide, plenty of gates, as well. You'll. Encounter all sorts of, gates on these hikes this one's called a kissing, gate it. Works better with to. Lower. Slaughter, is a classic, example of a Cotswolds village, with. A babbling, brook, charming. Gardens, and a. Working water mill. Just. Above the mill a delightful. Cafe overlooks, the Mill Pond. As. With. Many fairy tale regions in Europe the present-day beauty of the Cotswolds, was the result of an economic, disaster whoa, was a huge industry in medieval England and Cotswolds, sheep grew the very best according. To a 12th century saying, in Europe, that festival, is English, and in, England the best wool is Cotswolds, it's. A story of boom and bust and, then boom again. Because. Of its wool the, region prospered, wealthy. Wall merchants, built fine homes of the honey colored local limestone. Thankful. To God for the riches their sheep brought they, built oversized, churches, nicknamed, wool, cathedrals. But, with the rise of cotton in the Industrial Revolution the. Region's wool industry collapsed. The. Fine cuts walled towns fell, into a depressed, time warp becoming, Sleeping. Beauty's, because. Of that the region has a rustic, charm and, that's. The basis of today's new prosperity. Its. Residents, are catering to lots of tourists, and the, Cotswolds, have become a popular escape, for Londoners people. Who can afford thatched, mansions, like these. In. England. Main Street is called the High Street and in, Cotswolds market towns High, Street was built wide designed. To handle thousands, of sheep on market days. The. Handsome market town of chipping, Campton has a high street that's changed little over the centuries. Everything. You see was made of the same finally, worked Cotswold, stone the. Only stone allowed today. Roofs. Still, use the traditional stone, shingles, to. Make the weight easier to bear smaller. And lighter, slabs are higher up.
A 17th. Century market. Hall with, its original, stonework, from top to bottom intact, marks the town centre, hikers. Admire, the surviving, medieval workmanship. You can. Imagine centuries. Of Wheeling's and dealings, that took place under these fairy rafters. Continuing. Our walk we come to the quaint village of Stanton. Travel. Writers tend to overuse, the word quaint, I save. It for here in the Cotswolds, a strict. Building Code keeps towns looking what many locals call overly. Quaint. Village. Churches welcome, Walker's to pop in and enjoy a thoughtful break. This. Church probably sits upon an ancient pagan site, how, do we know it's, dedicated, to st. Michael and Michael. The Archangel who, fought the devil still, guards the door. Inside. You get a sense that this church has comforted, this community, in good, times and bad. Pre-christian. Symbols decorate, the columns perhaps, left over from those pagan, days and. The. List of rector's goes way, back without a break to the year 12 69. This. Church was built with wool money in fact they say generations, of sheep dog leashes actually, were these grooves I guess. A shepherd took his dog everywhere, even to, church. Throughout. This region a few of the vast domains, of England's most powerful. Families have survived. The. Cotswolds, are dotted, with elegant, Downton, Abbey type mansions. Today. With the high cost of maintenance and heavy taxes, some, noble families, have opened, their homes to the public to, help pay the bills. Stanway. House home, of the Earl of weaves is one such venerable, manor house. The. Earl whose family goes back centuries welcomes. Visitors two days a week. Walking. Through his house offers, a surprisingly. Intimate, glimpse into, the life styles, of England's, nobility, and the, gracious, and like ibly eccentric, Earl has agreed to personally show us around his ancestral, home including. A peek at some touching, family mementos, hair. Cut, off members of the family, there. Was a tradition it, was in certainly in this house it was a tradition, and, it's kept in this drawer here. For, instance this. Is uh it. Says Papa's, hair. My. Sister, gave me March the 11th 1771. This piece of paper from. 1771. I'm a mess of her hair in Silas, she's. Just as fresh, as the day it was cut off Wow and that's his hair cut. Off on the day his wife died, of pneumonia. So. This is a huge table it. Is it's 23, feet long and what's the game it's called shuffleboard.
Or Shovel, board it. Was known, in Henry the eighth's time, this. One was built, we think in 1625. Just. The beginning of the reign of Charles the first and, you. Use these 10 pieces. And. You, try and let's try get shovel them up to the far in. That's. Nice. It may be a game for English aristocrats, but this Yankee commoner, is gonna give it a try, very good very, good one, point. Very. Good. Very. Nice a two-foot, show another. Interesting, artifact is what was called a chamber horse a sprung exercise, chair from the 1750s. Ad you did. That your. Plants up and down and your liver gets shaken. For, a hundred years fine ladies, would sit on here and get their liver done and find, gentlemen, - you find gentleman - yeah a chamber. Horse, I guess, that makes sense doesn't know it's just like going to the gym notice. Lord. Weems has rebuilt, the old fountain in his backyard and, today as one, of the highest gravity-fed, fountains, in the world rockets, 300, feet into the sky it's, the talk of the Cotswolds. For. Commoners, the Lord's sprawling parkland, backyard, makes for a jolly good day out. While. Not quite in a noble mansion we're sleeping plenty, comfortably, just down the road in the village of Stowe on the wall, Stowe. Mixes, medieval, charm with a workaday, reality. A selection. Of traditional pubs, cute shops and inviting, cafes ring it's busy square. For. Centuries the, square hosted, a huge, wall market, the. Historic, Market Cross stood tall reminding, all Christian, merchants, to trade, fairly, under the sight of God and. Stocks. Like these were handy when a scoundrel, deserved, a little public ridicule. People. Came from as far away as Italy. To buy the prized, Cotswolds, wolf leases. You. Can imagine with twenty thousand sheep sold on a single day it was a thriving scene, the, sheep would be paraded, into the market down narrow fleece, alleys, like this they, were built really narrow because it forced the Sheep to go single file so they could count them as they, entered the market, and. Ever since those medieval, Market days pubs, have been the place to gather enjoy, a meal and a pint a beer tonight. We're, checking out a gastropub. That's, a pub known for its fine food while. Many things that pubs provide, like, the cozy ambience and. Community, living room vibe haven't, changed other things like, the quality of the food certainly.
Have, This. Isn't, your grandmother's, pub grub pubs. Are putting more effort into their offerings. Creative. Chefs are shaking, up England's reputation, for food and you. Won't find mushy, peas anywhere. On this menu. We're. Enjoying guinea, fowl and artfully. Prepared, fish with fresh vegetables, a. Short. Drive south takes us into Somerset. And to the wonderfully, preserved city of Wells dominated. By its glorious, Cathedral. Wells. Has a charming, medieval, center. The. Stately Bishop's, Palace is circled by a park like molten sports, an impressive, front yard. It's. A market city and has, been for a long time. The. Peaceful Vickers, clothes is perfectly. Preserved lined. With 14th, century houses. Locals. Claim this is the oldest, complete medieval, street in Europe originally. Built to house the Cathedral, Choir it still, does, this. Overpass, connects, it with the Cathedral. England's. First completely, gothic, Church dates from about 1200. The. West Portal, shows off what's said to be the greatest collection, of medieval statuary. Anywhere. In Europe, about. Three hundred thirteenth, century carvings. This. Entire. Ensemble was, once painted in vivid color, it, must have been a spectacular welcome. A heavenly. Host proclaiming, welcome. To worship. Stepping. Inside you're, struck by the unique and ingenious, scissors, arch, this. Hourglass, shaped double arch was added in about 1340. To bolster, the church's, sagging, tower. Nearly. 700, years later it's, not only still working it's beautiful. The. Chimes draw your attention, to one of the oldest, working clocks, in the world from, 1392. The. Clock does it much-loved, joust on the quarter hour. More. Medieval whimsy, is carved into the Capitals. This. Man has a toothache. Another. Pulls a thorn from his foot and a. Farmer clobbers, a thief so hard his hat falls off and. Under. Glorious, stained glass you can enjoy the cathedrals, even Somme. The. Evensong, is at Church of England choral service traditionally. Performed each evening and welcoming. Everyone, taking. A seat in the intimate central part of the church we, enjoy the opportunity, to experience, the church filled, with timeless, music. Because. We're here in July the, cathedrals, choir is on break and a visiting, choir is performing, this, one's from near Liverpool. The. Countryside, around wells is great for growing apples, and. You. Can visit farms that brew the authentic, hard cider known around here as, scrumpy. While. Cider is becoming, more and more refined and, popular, the, traditional, scrumpy, still, attracts a devoted crowd especially, here in Somerset and, lens. And cider farm, Roger Wilkins, is as old-school as it comes his. Enthusiasm. Alone is, intoxicating. Did. Your father make this thing same cider me, father did, but actually. I learned, off me grandfather, the actual, making of the cider exactly. The same now as I guess my, grandfather, done it all we do is crush them up press, the apples that natural. Juice comes out and the yeast is in the skin in the apple so I don't put nothing at all in it it's. A pure strength, your gat we, head into the tasting room which I'm guessing looks, about the same as it did when Rogers grandfather, ran the place it's. Time to sample the pure apple taste of scrumpy along. With it 6.8, alcohol, content I've. Heard when you drink scrumpy you've got to be careful well. Yeah I can't knock you about if you went used to it, gallon.
A Day you keep the doctor away, I've heard some I've heard some pubs actually, don't serve it because no they won't some that well, now I serve, you a half a point and, it's pure so it's so pure, that in the morning no problem no problem at all no headache no hangover. No nothing, that. May be true but after my tasting, I'm making, sure my producer. Does the driving. Throughout, England, the countryside, is picturesque. And it. Hides a fascinating. History a, history. That goes back thousands. Of years to prehistoric, times. Mysterious. Figures carved into hillsides. Curious. Man-made, mountains. Ancient. Bridges and. Legends. That go back to Camelot, and beyond. Glastonbury. A modest, market town today has, long had a holy, aura, it. Was a religious, site back in the Bronze Age that's, about 1500. BC it's, also considered, the birthplace of Christianity, and England and the, burial, site of the legendary, King Arthur. Centuries. Before Christ, this hill called a tour marked, Glastonbury. For. Thousands, of years pilgrims, and seekers, have climbed it today. It's, capped by the ruins of a church dedicated to Saint Michel. Remember. Because Saint Michel was the Christian antidote to paganism, it's, a good bet this church sits upon a pre-christian. Holy site. Seen. By many as a mother goddess, symbol the, Glastonbury, Tor has long attracted a, variety, of travellers and seekers. And, the. Tour has a biblical. Connection as well. For. Centuries pilgrims have come here to Glastonbury, on a quest for the legendary, Holy Grail you. See Joseph, of Arimathea who, is an uncle of Christ was a tin trader and even, back in biblical times Britain was well known as a rare place where tin could be mined considering. That Joseph. Could have sat right here with the chalice that Jesus drank from at the Last Supper in his, satchel, near. The base of the hill is a calm, and meditative garden. Built around a natural spring. According. To legend, the, Holy Grail lies at the bottom of the chalice, well in the. Past people, came here for physical, healing. Today. Seekers. Still, come for healing but it's more for a wellness of the mind and soul. England's. First church, was built, here at the base of the hill next to the chalice well eventually. A great, Abbey was built on the site of that church, mix. The scant ruins of England's first Church with, the mystique of King Arthur and the Holy Grail and the hard work of a busy monastery, and by, the 12th, century plastron. Berea VIII was the leading Christian, pilgrimage, site in all of Britain it. Was huge. Employing, a thousand, people to serve the needs of its pilgrims. At. Its peak Glastonbury. Abbey was England's most powerful, and wealthy it, was part of a network of monasteries, that by the year 1500, challenged. The king they, owned about a quarter, of all English, land they, had more money than the king, to. King Henry the eighth Abbey's, like this were political, obstacles, in. 1536. He, solved that by dissolving. England's, monasteries. He. Was particularly. Harsh on Glastonbury. He, not only destroyed its magnificent, church but, for emphasis, his, men hung the abbot displayed. His head on the abbey gates and sent. His quartered, body on four, different, national tours at, the same time. Without. Its wealthy abbey the town fell into a depression but. Glastonbury, rebounded. An 18th, century tourism. Campaign with thousands, claiming that water from the chalice well actually, healed them put, Glastonbury, back on the map, today. Glastonbury. In its mysterious, Hill are a center, for searchers, popular, with those on their own spiritual. Quest. Part. Of the fun of a visit here is just, being in a town where goddesses. Go for their conventions. Where. Every, other shop has a new-age, focus, and where, alternative. Is the, norm. For. A more tangible look at the spiritual, mystery, of this countryside.
Prehistoric. Stone circles, are scattered, all across Britain. These. Circles, many, as old, as Egypt's, pyramids were, sacred centers of ritual, and worship. They. Functioned, as celestial. Calendars. 5,000, years ago locals, could tell when to plant and when to party, according, to where the Sun rose and where. The sunset. It. Still, works that way today. At, the Avebury, stone circle, you're free to wander among a hundred stones. Visitors. Ponder, the cohesive, ensemble, of ditches, mounds, and megaliths. The. Work of people clearly, on a mission, from, thousands, of years ago. The. Huge circle while, cut in two by a busy, road and so, big it contains a village retains. Its a lure and Wonder. And nearby. Stands, Silbury, Hill a yet, to be explained, man-made, mountain, of chalk, for. More than four thousand, years this largest. Man-made construction. From prehistoric, Europe is just, another edifice, from, England's, mysterious. And ancient, religious. Landscape. And. Exactly. What's it all mean we'll, never know for sure it's. Like looking, at the ruins of a medieval church and from that alone, trying, to understand, Christianity. Stonehenge. Is the most famous of Britain's stone circles, a visit. Starts at the Museum where, you'll see artifacts, from the Stone Age people who, built it a. 360. Degree theatre demonstrates. How the structure, is aligned, with the heavens marking. Both the longest and the, shortest days of the year and. Outside. A thatched, Hut Hamlet helps you imagine, how its Neolithic. Builders once lived. Huge. Stones like this replica, were quarried, carved, and then moved for many miles some, of them from as far away as Wales, 200 miles to the west they barged him down rivers they, may have rolled them on logs like this nobody, knows for sure. After. This introduction, a bus, shuttles. You to the site. Visitors. Are in awe as they ponder the continuously. Debated, purposes, and meaning of Stonehenge. The. Major stones, were erected, at the end of the Stone Age, just before the advent of metal tools it's. Amazing, to think that some of these cross stones have been in place for four-and-a-half. Thousand. Years, whatever. Its original, purpose stonehenge, still, functions, as a celestial. Calendar even. In modern times the Sun rises, on the longest day of the year in just. The right spot and it, retains its powerful, sense of wonder over, those who gather. For. Over, 4,000. Years in a row this, ensemble, of stones so, artfully, assembled, has, silently, done, its duty. Why. Here and for, what purpose these. Questions, along with many more about Stonehenge remain, shrouded in, mystery, but, there's no mystery at all about the fact that this part of England is a fascinating. Region, to explore, thanks. For joining us I'm Rick Steves until. Next time keep. On travelin. You've. Got a big one oh yeah there you go yeah. We. Read on there, considering. That Josip. Could have sat right here with. This. Is the quintessential, English countryside. And it's. Walking country.