If you’re looking to fly off to a far-flung
destination (as soon as such a thing is possible again) that is unlike any
other, the quintessentially English towns of the Cotswolds offer a colourful
mix of rich, cultural heritage, picture postcard perfect architectural wonders,
villages built from the iconic honey coloured local limestone, and vibrant,
natural wonders everywhere your eyes land on.
The idyllic scenery is ideal for those who
want to escape to quiet English countryside that isn’t short on its
entertainment with its selection of restaurants, pubs, sparkling streams, and a
wide range of National Trust sites nestled in between the rolling hills. If you
want more reasons to visit Cotswolds
1. Peaceful Countryside Experience
London is usually rife with the hustle and bustle of popular cities, but the Cotswolds offers both a rural escape where tourists and locals alike can breathe in the fresh air and take in stunning sights, as well as the excitement and energy of popular towns and small cities like Cirencester, Cheltenham, Burford and more.
If you visit during the winter months, you can enjoy the scenery without running into crowds of tourists.
It’s the best place to unwind and take a stroll around the tranquil streets of the Cotswolds villages, where you can relish honey-coloured, stone cottages with lush village greens and distinctive architecture in the background.
Each village provides a different experience, from the slow and serene pace in Snowshill village to the sophisticated and glamorous vibe of Broadway.
Wherever you choose, you’ll find yourself in a
picture-perfect slice of Cotswold life.
2. Cosy Accommodations Abound
In between the lush forest-covered landscape, rolling hills, and quaint villages, there are various rental cottages and pubs that offer a comfortable and charming places to stay for the night.
Of course, there are also luxurious hotels with grand acres of garden space for those who want to elevate their experience.
Either way, you’ll find the ideal place to relax and settle in for the rest of your holiday. Ellenborough Park, for instance, is home to an up-scale hotel set in between Cleeve Hill and Cheltenham.
It’s a perennial favourite as the place has
instant access to Cotswold’s highest point and a world-renowned racecourse,
making it boutique accommodation that is rich in history.
3. Interesting Historical Sites
In the midst of your country walks are sites of interesting historical sites and landmarks like the Abbey at Tewkesbury, which is the second-largest parish church in the entire country.
There are also unique choices such as the largest Romano-British villa, which is situated in the scenic town of Chedworth.
If you’re looking for a majestic slice of medieval architecture, Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, near Cheltenham has stood tall for over a 500 years in its current incarnation and may have been the location of a much older castle prior to that..
It’s the ideal place to immerse yourself in centuries of British history, where you can also pay respect to the resting place of Catharine Parr and Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife.
Another significant historical landmark is Blenheim Palace, which is found in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
It’s one of the most awe-inspiring and grandest houses in England, so much so that it earned a UNESCO World Heritage Site title in 1987.
Conclusion: Visiting the Cotswolds is a Must for Adventurous Travellers
Cotswold’s offers a slice of countryside paradise with its miles of undulating hills, undisturbed footpaths, honey-painted stone villages, and world-renowned heritage sites in between.
It’s a must-visit for history buffs, while tourists or locals who want to take a break from the city can find peace in this quintessential town.
If you’re looking to discover more about the
Cotswolds, get in touch with us to see how we can help!
Here’s a list of places to visit, all within a 10 mile radius, closest first.
1.6 Miles- Batsford Arboretum
Batsford Arboretum is home to the country’s largest private Arboretum (a place with a lot of trees, in case you’re wondering) – a selection of trees and shrubs covering 65 acres.
As well as being able to tour the grounds, there is a visitors centre with a cafe, shop and plant centre. The Arboretum dates back to the early 17th Century and is now run by a charity known as the Batsford Trust.
It’s open every day of the year excluding, Christmas Day, from:
9-5 Mon – Sat
10-5 on Sundays
It’s dog friendly which is a great feature and would be sure to keep the kids amused for a day.
Chastleton House is a 400 year old Jacobean House and Gardens, built in the 1600’s and now owned and managed by the National Trust.
It’s one of the only National Trust sites that has focused on conservation rather than restoration, which means that there has been little change to the house in modern times, giving you an unspoiled look into how the house was built and used.
You can pick up a special explorer pack for kids to keep them amused during your time touring the house and gardens. The garden features a Topiary and a Croquet area in the summer months and you can get a free guided tour of the gardens.
Opening months are March to October with a few opening weekends in December. Website says dogs allowed in fields only so it doesn’t really count as a dog friendly location.
Prices – Free for National Trust members. Non-members: House and Garden – £10.50 Adult, £5 kids, £27 Family. Garden only £4 adult, £2.50 kids, Family £10 (prices need updating for 2020).
Cotswold Motoring Museum is situated in the picturesque village of Bourton on the Water. It’s designed to be a journey through the motorcars of the 20th Century, complete with vintage cars, classic cars, caravans and motorbikes.
Possibly most importantly, it’s the home of the famous Brum!
There are 7 showrooms over 7500 square foot where you can discover over 50 classic and vintage cars. The Museum is dog friendly too.
It’s open from 15th Feb until mid December and is open 10am-6m daily.
Prices- £6.25 adults, £4.50 Kids (ages 4-16), under 4’s free, £19.75 Family
Tags: Good for Kids, Dog Friendly
8.3 Miles – Bourton on the Water
Bourton on the Water is known as the Venice of the Cotswolds and is one of the most popular villages in the area.
It sits on the river Windrush and it’s main features consist of the many small bridges which cross the river in the centre of the village.
Bourton is buzzing with day visitors and has lots of quirky shops as well as places to eat.
A number of the other tourist attractions in this list are located here including the Cotswold Motoring Museum, Model Village and Railway and the Birdland Park and Gardens.
Price – Free (except for parking charges)
Tags: Good for Kids, Dog Friendly
8.3 Miles – Bourton Model Village
The Bourton Model Village is a replica of Bourton on the Water which is built at a one ninth scale of the actual Village.
The Model Village was opened in 1937 and took 5 years to build. The Village is famous for it’s mini Bonsai style tree’s which are pruned to replicate the scale of the model. See if you can spot the model village’s model village. It a gets a bit Inception like…
It aims to be open all year (weather dependant) but dogs are not allowed and there are restrictions on pushchairs and wheelchairs due to the size of the replica paths and roads.
The Village is child friendly, although given the strict instruction for what kids can and can’t go near, we wouldn’t want to be the ones responsible for the little one breaking a tiny house!
Price- £3.60 Adult, £2.80 Kids over 3, £3.20 over 60
8.4 Miles – Birdland Park and Gardens
Birdland itself is set in 9 acres of garden and woodland surrounding the River Windrush in the centre of Bourton on the Water.
It houses over 130 species of birds including Flamingos, pelicans, cranes, storks, parrots, owls, pheasants, hornbills and touracos among others.
There is an on site cafe, a Jurassic Area complete with hidden dinosaur models and 2 acres set aside as a nature reserve where people have observed rabbits, foxes and deer as well as other animals. There is a small outdoor and indoor kids play area.
Birdland is open daily from 10am, closing only on Christmas day with varied closing times depending on time of year.
Surprisingly, compared to most other places dealing with animals, dogs are also allowed.
Prices- £10.95 Adult, £9.95 Concession, £7.95 Kids (ages 3-15), various family tickets available.
Castle Combe, otherwise known as the Prettiest Village in England, is nestled in the southernmost corner of the Cotswolds. Visiting this sleepy, rural community is like stepping back into the 14th century.
Elegantly crafted stone houses, weavers’ cottages, stately gardens and narrow byways combine to create a traditional and picturesque English village.
While the castle on the hill made famous by the Normans no longer exists, the village of Castle Combe is a beautifully preserved example of the way life used to be in the English countryside. If you are out on a walking tour of Wiltshire, be sure to stop here to have a pint and explore its ancient sites and quiet charm. Here are three must-see highlights.
1. A 14th century Market Cross can be found in the centre of the village. These stone landmarks were used to signify the market squares in medieval times. Adjacent to the Market Cross, you will also find a Buttercross. This stone structure is where traders and market goers would tether their horses.
2. Located in the centre of the village, St. Andrew’s Church was built in the 13th century. The tower was added in the 15th century. Wealthy wool merchants funded the tower. The tower’s clock, which was designed by a local blacksmith, is the most famous attraction at St. Andrew’s Church. The clock is not only faceless, which makes it unique, but it is also considered to be one of the oldest working medieval clocks in England.
3. Take a stroll from the Market Cross to By Brook. By Brook is the river that powered Castle Combe’s wool industry in the Middle Ages. The Town Bridge and the Roman Bridge both span this river, and they are charming, well-preserved relics of a bygone era.
Cheltenham began life as an Anglo Saxon village in the 11th Century.
Located in the Cotswolds, surrounded by beautiful green countryside, Gloucester also lies nearby, although protected Greenbelt land has stopped them from forming an area of conurbation.
In the 18th Century, medicinal waters were found over what is now the Cheltenham Ladies’ College – a prestigious independent school for girls. The town, with a population of around 110,000 oozes elegance and finesse.
It’s famous for its Regency architecture, cream white terraced houses protected by wrought iron railings.
See below for our top 5 things to do if you’re in Cheltenham:
Cheltenham Cricket Festival
If you’re a fan of cricket then this is a must see festival. Full of beer, sun and cricket, it could not be any better.
A great atmosphere, great food and usually great games located on the grounds of the prestigious private school, Cheltenham College. You’re surrounded by a road which makes it feel like a bit like the jewel of the countryside has invaded the urban landscape.
Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Taken place over 14 different venues across the town, the music is as diverse as where the venues are.
Contemporary jazz acts can start from gospel, salsa to flamenco. The Town Hall usually hosts local schools’ jazz bands, allowing the young talent of the area to flourish the given opportunity to perform.
Pittville Pump Room
Built on the estate of Joseph Pitt, this became the main attraction in the town in 1788 when King George III came to visit.
Today, The Pump Room is used for music concerts, poetry readings, formal black tie events as well as a back drop for famous visitors such as Lord Byron, Jane Austin and the Duke of Wellington.
The beautiful Regency style room isn’t just available to the upper class, it is more often than not hired out and commonly used for weddings and dinner events.
Montpellier and the High Street
This gorgeous area is dominated by Edwardian and Georgian town houses, lined up neatly like an army of soldiers.
Wide open spaces, not too dissimilar to spaces found in London (for example, Trafalgar Square), can be found near many of the shops on the high street.
The choice of shops are excellent, accommodating everyone and you could spend a whole day walking up and down the high street.
As an added bonus, if you visit during the Light Up Cheltenham festival, the area is illuminated with various colourful displays and they run guided tours detailing the history of the town.
Again, based around the high street, there are tonnes of bars and pubs for you too choose from. Everything is within convenient walking distance so you won’t be running up unnecessary taxi bills!
Begin your night out in a pub such as the Beehive Inn, try some local beer and ale (from what I hear they’re excellent) before moving onto a classy upmarket bar like Bentley’s. End the night either in Blush, a trendy, chic club conveniently close to the Bus Station and taxi rank. If you prefer something a little less alternative, Sub-tone is a great place. It’s a club with the layout of a house!
So there you have it, 5 great things to do and see if you’re in Cheltenham. Be sure to check them all out, you won’t be disappointed.
The Wye Valley is home to one of the finest woodlands in Britain, some of the most atmospheric ruins, and several rare wildlife species. It has been popular with visitors from Victorian times but it’s rarely crowded, and the position on the southern border between Wales and England makes it very easy to get to by car or by train.
The area is best known for gentle walking along the banks of the Wye and in the wooded hills on either side. Several long distance footpaths wind through it- Offa’s Dyke Path is probably the most famous but the Wye Valley walk is just as spectacular. It runs from Chepstow all the way up to the river’s source in the hills of Mid Wales, 136 miles away. Day walkers will find plenty to see too, from the high crags of Symonds Yat Rock to Tintern Abbey. There are castles, caves, traditional pubs, and panoramic hillside views.
Tintern is a typical Wye Valley town. It’s perfectly picturesque, from the restored water wheel to the village cricket green to the Old Station- once a stop on the Victorian rail line, the Old Station has been transformed into a museum and picnic spot. It was recently voted Britain’s favourite park. The Abbey lies right beside the river on the edge of town. The ornate arches of the Cistercian monastery really make this ruin stand out from the crowd and it’s hard not to be impressed by their huge scale alone.
If you’re looking for something a little more thrilling than a walk or a picnic, canoe and kayak hire is available at Symonds Yat or Ross-on-Wye. Rock climbers come to the Wye Valley from across the UK but complete beginners are welcome at the local adventure schools. There are a wide variety of ways to enjoy this part of the world.
Even a casual wanderer will almost certainly see some kind of wildlife, even if it’s only the swans on the river. Lucky ones might also see kingfishers or catch a glimpse of a shy otter. Those that venture into the woods might spot roe, fallow, or red deer, peregrine falcons, and even wild boar and polecats.