VISITING

The Cotswolds

“The Cotswolds is the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales.”

Holiday Lettings in The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are a range of hills in west-central England, sometimes called the “Heart of England”. The name Cotswold means “sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides”.

The Cotswolds are characterised by attractive small towns and villages, built of the underlying Cotswold stone (a yellow oolitic limestone). In the Middle Ages the wool trade made the Cotswolds prosperous and some of this money was put into the building of churches, leaving the area with a number of large handsome Cotswold stone “wool churches”.

The area remains affluent, which has encouraged the establishment of many high quality pubs, restaurants and antique shops.

Cotswold Towns

Cotswold towns include Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway, Burford, Chipping Norton, Cirencester, Moreton-in-Marsh, Northleach, Stow-on-the-Wold, Stroud and Winchcombe.

The town of Chipping Campden is notable for being the home of the Arts and Crafts movement, founded by William Morris at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. William Morris lived occasionally in Broadway Tower, a folly, now part of a country park. Chipping Campden is also known for the annual Cotswold Olimpick Games, a celebration of sports and games dating back to the early 17th century.

Famous places close to the Cotswolds include Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Cheltenham, home to the famous horse racing festival, and the beautiful university city of Oxford.

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

Whilst the beauty of the Cotswold AONB is intertwined with the villages that seem to almost grow out of the landscape, the Cotswolds were primarily designated as an AONB for the rare limestone grassland habitats as well as the old growth beech woodlands that typify the area. These habitat areas are also the last refuge for many other flora and fauna with some so endangered they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The uniqueness and value of the Cotswolds is engendered in the fact that five European Special Areas of Conservation, three National Nature Reserves and over 80 Sites of Special Scientific Interest are contained within the Cotswold AONB.

Things To Do

IN THE COTSWOLDS

Batsford Arboretum & Wild Garden
Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 9AB (www.batsarb.co.uk): Set in 56 acres of natural beauty and once home to the famous Mitford family. Meandering paths wander through glades and alongside streams. A garden of peace and tranquillity for all seasons

Sudeley Castle
Winchcombe GL54 5JD (www.sudeleycastle.co.uk): Once the property of King Ethelred the Unready, later home of Queen Katherine Parr and garrison headquarters of Prince Rupert during the Civil War. Romantic ruins, award-winning gardens and one thousand years of fascinating history are among the many reasons to visit;

Broadway Tower Country Park
Broadway WR12 7LB (www.broadwaytower.co.uk): A unique Capability Brown Folly Tower open to visitors wanting to experience great English heritage in an inspiring location. Displays, roof viewing platform, shop and Red Deer Park are a must for Cotswold visits.

Snowshill Manor & Garden
Snowshill WR12 7JU (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/snowshillmanor): Explore the treasures collected by one man with an eye for the unusual. Be intrigued by the story of Charles Wade, be amazed by his huge and varied collection from around the world and relax in the peaceful hillside garden.

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester GL1 2LX (www.gloucestercathedral.org.uk): A warm welcome awaits you at Gloucester Cathedral – one of the finest medieval buildings in the country. Here you will discover magnificent stained glass, royal tombs, fan-vaulted medieval cloisters and a rich musical heritage. Admission free but £5 donation requested.

Hidcote
Chipping Campden GL55 6LR (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hidcote): Relax and unwind in one of the country’s great gardens and experience for yourself the fulfilment of a quiet American’s English fantasy. You’ll never forget the exquisite garden rooms, each with its own unique character. Discover rare shrubs and trees, herbaceous borders and unusual plants from around the world. The garden changes in harmony with the seasons, from vibrant spring bulbs to autumn’s spectacular Red Border. Nestled in the Cotswolds with sweeping views across the Vale of Evesham, a visit to Hidcote is inspirational at any time of year.

Birdland
Park & Gardens, Bourton-on-the-Water GL54 2BN (www.birdland.co.uk): A natural setting of woodland, river and gardens inhabited by over 500 birds; flamingos, pelicans, penguins and cranes in various water habitats. Over 50 aviaries of parrots, hornbills, toucans and many more. Discovery Zone (indoor education area) and Marshmouth Reserve (2.5 acre nature reserve). Take time to wander and relax in this tranquil environment. Plus Penguin Café, picnic areas, play area and gift shop. The only group of King Penguins in England.

Cotswold Falconry Centre
Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 9AB (www.cotswold-falconry.co.uk): Eagles, hawks, kites, owls, vultures and falcons are flown throughout the day giving you a chance to appreciate their speed, grace, agility and their close relationship with the falconer. You can enjoy these wonderful birds and think positively about their conservation.

Cotswold Farm Park
Guiting Power GL54 5UG (www.cotswoldfarmpark.co.uk): As featured on BBC’s Countryfile, this is a rare farm treat for all the family, offering the chance to meet over 50 breeding flocks and herds of farm animals. Seasonal demonstrations, adventure playground, Touch Barn, Fun Barn, Maze Quest and Jumping Pillows. Gift shop and Cotswold Kitchen.

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens
Burford OX18 4JW (www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk): The Park is set in 160 acres of parkland and is an attraction for all members of the family. There are over 250 species of animals from Leaf-cutting ants to White rhinos; giraffes were a major addition in 2010. You can walk with lemurs in the Madagascar enclosure, ride on the train and be inspired by the beautiful landscaping and seasonal displays throughout the Park.

Cheltenham Racecourse
Cheltenham GL50 4SH (www.cheltenham.co.uk): One of Europe’s top racecourses, hosting the three day Open Meeting and the four day Festival in March. The Centaur is the region’s largest facility for exhibitions, conferences and concerts.

Cotswold Water Park
South Cerney GL7 5TL (www.waterpark.org): Explore this watery landscape, with loads of lakes, offering watersports, fishing, birdwatching and much, much more. Call in to the Gateway Information Centre to discover where to go and what to do.

Daylesford Organic Farm
near Kingham GL56 0YG (www.daylesfordorganic.com): The Harrods of farm shops! One of the most sustainable farms in the UK, located in 2,000 acres of beautiful countryside of the English Cotswolds, owned by Sir Anthony and Lady Bamford. Award-winning food in the farm shop and café and a host of things to see and do: farm tours and farm walks, cookery school and organic farm school, and relaxing treatments at the Hay Barn Spa.

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
Toddington GL54 5DT (www.gwsr.com): The ‘Friendly Line in the Cotswolds’ offers a scenic 20 mile round trip between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse, including the exciting Greet Tunnel, one of the longest on a preserved railway. Pop along and see the driver in his cab. Break your journey at picturesque Winchcombe station. Special events all year.

The Model Village
Bourton-on-the-Water GL54 2AF (www.theoldnewinn.co.uk/village.htm): A model of the actual village built of Cotswold stone to 1/9 scale in 1937. The River Windrush flows under Bourton’s famous bridges. The beeches, cherries and chestnuts are all in miniature. Music in the churches and of course, the model of the model;

Walking
Most people who visit the Cotswolds do some walking, even if it is just a stroll to the village pub! The area contains some of England’s most beautiful countryside and there are over 3,000 miles of public footpaths, to enable visitors to fully discover this rich landscape. Long distance trails in, or passing through, the Cotswolds include:

  • The Cotswold Way;
  • The Heart of England Way;
  • The Oxfordshire Way;
  • The Gloucestershire Way;
  • The Wardens’ Way and Windrush Way;
  • The Macmillan Way;
  • The Monarchs Way;
  • The D’arcy Dalton Way;
  • The Wysis Way

Cotswold House Hotel & Spa
Chipping Campden (www.cotswoldhouse.com): Set in a converted coach house in the gardens, the Cotswold House Spa features treatment rooms, a superb hydrotherapy pool and Turkish hammam room.

Hay Barn Spa at Daylesford Organic
Daylesford (www.daylesfordorganic.com): A nourishing space for self-reflection, understanding and rejuvenation. Yoga, pilates and meditation classes, workshops hosted by visiting therapists, facials, massage treatments and consultations provide exceptional holistic care for the mind, body and spirit.

Wyck Hill House Hotel & Spa
Stow-on-the-Wold (www.wyckhillhousehotel.co.uk): Six therapy rooms, including one dual room. There is also a 12-seater steam room and sauna and relaxation area;

M Spa at Lapstone
Chipping Campden: Spoil yourself with the most progressive, comprehensive range of spa facial, bath and body experiences that deliver the most amazing results every time. Indulge in signature treatments to reconnect body, mind and soul, from head to toe and from outside in.

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