The Cotswold Connoisseurs

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Green Wellies, clay pigeons – Brian Schofield lives the life of a country gent

The hotel? Right on the border between Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, this former 16th century cider house, set on a perfect Cotswold village green, performs three functions with equal aplomb – country hotel, quality restaurant and thriving, gossip-soaked local pub.

Two years ago, Archie Orr-Ewing abandoned his tenure of the North Pole gastropub in west London, and wife Nicola left her flourishing hat-design business, to take over the pumps here. They took a while to establish themselves, but now the King’s Head is at the head of a very competitive local pack. Nicola’s dedication to graceful design in the dining areas and bedrooms blends perfectly with Archie’s commitment to running “a pub with rooms”. This place welcomes regulars and darts matches just as gladly as weekenders and wedding guests. Oh, and there’s the beef.

What’s the beef? Steaks, of course, which are renowned throughout the land. They’re hung for 10 days and sourced from the Aberdeen Angus herd on Archie’s uncle’s farm just down the road.

(do you really want the rest about all other places?)

It all sounds lovely – I’ll pack the car. Steady on – Bledington is less than a mile from Kingham railway station, which is 26 minutes from Oxford and just 80 minutes from Paddington.

Well, how do we get around then? Scenic Cycles (07940340939) will actually deliver mountain bikes to the King’s Head, for £15 a day, or £25 for the weekend. If you can leave the car behind, the Cotswolds will thank you for it.

What should I bring? Walking boots, a sociable nature and an empty stomach.

What shouldn’t I bring? Effete politically correct, Chardonnay-drinking-in-Islington opinions.

August 4, 2002 – The Sunday Times