The Plough Inn at Cold Aston

toI love the Cotswolds. It’s such quintessentially English countryside. Rolling hills, sheep dotting the landscape and pretty stone cottages. It all feels a little bit Famous Five, like stepping back to a simpler (and quite possibly make believe) time when all we had to worry about was running out of jam sandwiches and where to go on our next adventure.

A couple of weeks ago, Dave and I found ourselves in one of the prettiest villages I’ve ever seen – Cold Aston. Just 13 miles from Cheltenham on the edge of the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, it’s a short 60 minute drive from Bristol. We were there to stay at The Plough Inn, a former 17th century coaching in turned pub with rooms.

Despite feeling a little out of place in our town shoes and non-tweedy attire, Cold Aston gave us a warm welcome and we enjoyed a pint of Cotswolds Ale before being show to our room. There are three rooms available to book. Ours, The Notgrove, priced at £150 a night, including breakfast, is the most expensive. It’s a quirky room with beams and odd shaped nooks due to the age of the building and features a very comfortable super-king bed.

Our dinner menu reflected The Plough Inn’s rural location of Cold Aston well, with locally sourced produce (including some meat which comes from farms surrounding the village). I was pleased to see a seasonal menu featuring traditional hearty classics. So often I think chefs panic and add random dishes to try and please the masses – Thai green curry, chicken lollipops, a paella. All things I’ve seen – and sighed at – on country pub menus.

Inside the plough at Cold Aston

Time for dinner

Tom, the owner, was our server for the evening and talked about the changes he’s made to the pub since he took over from its previous owner (sat drinking ale at the bar) two years ago. He’s into his beers and rotates them frequently – with lots of local ales on tap. We talked about Bristol and all the great micro-breweries we have here too. He clearly loves his food too, and was knowledgeable about the menu. My main was on the specials menu and Tom told us that they’d had a lamb saddle delivered that morning which the chef butchered down himself. This isn’t unusual – in fact – in Cold Aston they often get locals coming in to sell game and they’ll buy directly. Sometimes that game might be birds, sometimes a whole deer.

For those of you doing Veganuary, I have to apologise that this was an unashamedly meaty meal.

To start, Dave had the devilled kidneys on sourdough. These were referenced (but not eaten) in Giles Coren’s recent review and wow, he missed out. They were perfection. Absolute perfection.

I went for the Windrush Farm mutton scrumpet with harissa ketchup. I liked the idea of not knowing what I’d ordered. Turns out, it was a large deep fried meat filled croquette. It was great, crispy on the outside and softly packed with shredded mutton on the inside. It sat brazenly on my plate, shouting at me to eat it. So I did.

Mains = more meat. For Dave, 12-hour smoked short rib, red cabbage & gherkin salad, truffle macaroni cheese. For me, something from the specials board: Barnsley chop with black truffle tortellini and an olive and tomato sauce. Alongside all of this, we went for a side of seasonal greens with chilli and garlic. Our food was excellent and the cooking of the meat on all course, faultless.

Our only criticism is that the food wasn’t piping hot. The black truffle tortellini was divine and I’m really hoping it was made in house (I’d assume so).  It was some of the best tortellini I’ve ever had and I’d have enjoyed it even more had I not had to share half of it with Dave. Sigh.

And for dessert…

I didn’t have room for pudding (as usual) but Dave heroically pushed on and managed a sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream. It was stunningly good. I don’t have a sweet tooth and I pretty much ate half of it! We washed all of this deliciously rich food down with a bottle of Spanish Monastrell ‘Crazy Grapes’ from Finca Bacara. These guys are well worth checking out, they’ve got a really modern vibe and I love their bottle artwork. Suffice to say, the wine was most quaffable!

Crazy Grapes wine - highly recommended!

We do this thing whenever we eat out. We play the game of ‘who won’. Who had the best meal. This was a tie and a close one. Dave won on the starters and I won on the mains.

And to bed…

Following all that food, we managed to roll up the stairs and to bed. Our room was cute with a large en suite but there were a few things which could be tweaked to make it better. We had an extension lead and plug trailing from the TV across one wall which looked a bit messy and the remote control was nowhere to be found so we couldn’t switch the TV on until the manager brought us one from another room. Otherwise, the finishes were rustic and cosy and the super king size bed was super comfortable. We both slept so well and enjoyed the pitch dark peace of Cold Aston that you just don’t find in the city.

Time for breakfast

Breakfast is a very casual affair – and with just three rooms, that’s not a problem. There’s no menu as such, just a full English breakfast and whatever combination you want from those ingredients, plus cereals and fresh fruit juices. I usually order eggs Benedict but as that wasn’t on offer, I made the decision to go full hog! Dave went for the same but a veggie version. They were very good. Meaty sausages, crispy bacon and runny fried eggs. Throw into the mix a pot of beans which is separate, allowing for toast dipping, and you’ve got the makings of a perfect Sunday fry up.

Full english fry up at The Plough Inn at Cold AstonInside the snug bar at The Plough Inn in Cold Aston

Exploring Cold Aston

After breakfast, we headed out on a walk around Cold Aston and the gorgeous countryside surrounding it. There are three well established walking routes around the pub which go from 1.30hr to 4 hours in duration. Ask Tom or a member of the team and they will point them out on their big map before you set off. After all that food and booze, it was the perfect way to blow out the cobwebs and complete what was an incredibly relaxing, wholesome weekend!

Countryside scenes in the gloucestershire cotswolds Getting lost in the cotswolds Scenes around Cold Aston

For other places to visit in the Cotswolds, read my reviews on the luxe boutique hotel Thyme and cute Maytime Inn, both in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds.

We were invited to stay at The Plough Inn at Cold Aston for one night. Our stay included dinner and breakfast. I was not asked to give a positive review and all opinions are my own (and Dave’s)*


  1. The nature and food look amazing, I would definitely want to try those devilled kidneys on sourdough, not something you see often on the menu, and not something I would cook myself, but the sandwich looks really delicious. Thanks for sharing this hidden gem with us.

  2. I love the Cotswolds too!! It is heaven on Earth if you ask me. Thank you so much for this recommendation, we want to make it soon over there and will definitely check this place up. It looks amazing, and the food….!!!! Definitely a must try. Thanks again x

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