Get Set for top gear and Chipping Norton on the Pulhams 801

It’s been chipping away at us for some time to put pen to paper about Chipping Norton (boom, boom!), but the launch of a new timetable from Pulhams means there’s no better time than now! And, there’s also 801 reasons to get on the 801 service from Cheltenham, which is, now extended to Chipping Norton, but as space is limited here, we’ll try and summarise the sheer delight of a visit across the rolling hills, twisting roads and through villages with the quaintest of cottages, some pastel coloured, fenced in by stone walls to Chipping Norton. This is a town that achieved prosperity with the growth of the wool trade and today its Bliss Tweed Mill is a major landmark and was built in 1872. It looks like a cross between a mansion and a folly with its domed chimney!

Anyway, on stepping off the fab Pulhams service, where the customer service is always, top notch, take a leisurely stroll through the cobbled streets lined with quaint stone cottages, soaking in the ambiance of a bygone era. Marvel at the architectural wonders such as the impressive St. Mary’s Church, dating back to the 12th century, with its striking spire dominating the skyline.

Delve deeper into Chipping Norton’s past by visiting the local museums and heritage sites. The Chipping Norton Museum offers fascinating insights into the town’s evolution, featuring exhibits on its industrial heritage, notable residents, and rural life. Explore artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays that bring history to life.’

For nature lovers, Chipping Norton boasts an abundance of scenic beauty – unsurprising given that the Cotswolds is one of the most enchanted settings in the UK. If you are planning a long trip then maybe embark on a hike along the Cotswold Way, a renowned long-distance footpath that winds through picturesque countryside and charming villages. It’s a 102 mile trail, so make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew, but it’s a great way to wrap round a staycation, longer holiday or maybe a mile or two just to soak up the ambience and to stop by at Bliss Mill, which, as we hinted at earlier, really is an eccentric looking building.

Indulge in retail therapy by browsing the eclectic mix of independent shops and boutiques that line the streets of Chipping Norton. From artisanal crafts and antiques to fashion and homeware, there’s something for everyone to discover. Don’t miss the bustling market held regularly in the town, where you can peruse stalls selling fresh produce, local delicacies, and handmade goods. Quintessentially English (that sounds posh doesn’t it?) afternoon tea can be devoured at the beautifully decorated “The Tea Set”.

For a taste of local culture, catch a performance at the Chipping Norton Theatre. This vibrant arts venue hosts an array of productions, including plays, musicals, comedy shows, and live music events. Whether you’re a theatre aficionado or simply looking for an entertaining night out, you’re sure to find something to suit your tastes. It’s the theatre’s 50th Anniversary and to check out the line-up for 2024 and beyond (including “Jack and the Beanstalk” panto fun), go to What’s on | The Theatre Chipping Norton (  It’s a far cry from the day of the English Civil War in the 17th century when Chipping Norton gained an unusual reputation for being a stronghold of radical Puritanism. The town was known for its strict adherence to Puritanical values, leading to the banning of activities like dancing and theatrical performances for a period of time. No chance, there’d be a theatre back then!

After a day of sightseeing and shopping, treat yourself to a culinary adventure in Chipping Norton. The town boasts a diverse array of eateries, ranging from cosy cafes and traditional pubs to gourmet restaurants. Sample hearty British classics like fish and chips or indulge in contemporary cuisine crafted from locally sourced ingredients. For a truly immersive experience, consider booking a cooking class or food tour to learn the secrets of Cotswold cuisine from expert chefs and producers. Alternatively, head to one of the nearby farm shops or artisanal producers to stock up on delicious treats to enjoy back at your accommodation.

As evening falls, unwind with a leisurely stroll along the River Glyme or River Windrush, taking in the tranquil scenery as (weather permitting!) the sun sets behind the rolling hills. Alternatively, venture out of town to enjoy stargazing in the dark skies of the Cotswolds, where you can marvel at the beauty of the cosmos away from the glare of the big city lights – for those of you who, of course, are tired of city life! If the sun isn’t shining, there’s always an atmospheric vibe that descends on this amazing place. End your day with a cosy night’s stay in one of the town’s charming and stylish accommodations. Choose from historic inns, boutique hotels, and quaint bed and breakfasts, each offering warm hospitality and a unique glimpse into Cotswold life.

This might sound cheesy, but Chipping Norton really is a chic and slightly quirky place. Here, there’s a tradition called the “Annual Cheese Rolling Festival” where locals and visitors alike gather to roll wheels of cheese down a steep hill, racing to catch them. It’s a quirky event that attracts participants from far and wide, adding to the town’s unique charm.

It is famously known for its connection to the “Chipping Norton Set,” a group of influential media and political figures who reside or have connections to the area, adding a touch of intrigue and glamour to this quaint Cotswold town. It’s certainly had its fair share of well known folk living here, including television presenter Jeremy Clarkson (he of ‘Top Gear’ fame), former Prime Minister and current Foreign Affairs Minister David Cameron, as well as media guru and ex editor of The Sun and News of the World, Rebecca Brookes. Sir Sir Ben Kingsley, known for his roles in films such as “Gandhi,” “Schindler’s List,” and “Shutter Island,” spent part of his childhood in Chipping Norton. His family owned and operated a cinema in the town, where Kingsley’s passion for acting was nurtured.

All in all, Chipping Norton’s the place to be this Spring and Summer and combining it with a trip to the iconic, upmarket and charming Cheltenham, maybe stopping off at Moreton-in-the Marsh or Bourton-on-the-Water (they like their hyphens round here!) is just the tonic, so get on-board the Pulhams 801 as it moves into top gear with its fab, improved timetable. To plan your scenic sojourn through the heart of the Cotswolds, go to 801 Cheltenham – Chipping Norton – Great Scenic Journeys