Rolling hills, wild meadows, ancient woodland and gentle, meandering streams; The Cotswolds is home to the English countryside of your dreams! Everywhere you turn you’ll be knocked sideways by the picturesque landscape that greets you. There is really nothing quite like it.
From medieval castles and magnificent abbeys, to crocodile zoos and husky sledging (yes, really!) there’s so much to see and do here. Whether you’re looking for something to keep the kids busy during the school holidays, or just keen to explore what The Cotswolds has to offer, you definitely won’t run of ideas. In fact, it might be worth extending that trip by another week, just to try and fit it all in…
It’s no surprise that the beauty of The Cotswolds has inspired so many writers and poets over the years. Everyone from Laurie Lee and J. R. R. Tolkien to Beatrix Potter and J. M. Barrie have taken inspiration from the towns, villages and countryside they encountered during their time in this unique place.
The Cotswolds has a very well-deserved reputation as a foodie paradise, thanks to the incredible produce on offer. Local specialities like Gloucester Old Spot pork, Tewkesbury mustard, Stinking Bishop cheese, Hobbs House bread and Bibury trout, as well as some of the finest locally-grown veg imaginable, can be found on the menu in restaurants and pubs across the area. The locally-brewed beers and ales, as well as Cotswolds Gin, don’t disappoint either!
With their distinctive honey-coloured stone cottages, traditional local pubs, charming village greens and bucolic settings, the pretty villages scattered across The Cotswolds offer a slice of idyllic rural life. Each one has its own character – from the elegance of Bourton-on-the-Water to the tranquillity of The Slaughters – but all have the same inimitable Cotswold magic. *Googles ‘Cottages to buy in the Cotswolds’ immediately*
It’s not all on a small-scale here though, The Cotswolds is also fringed by some of the most beautiful cities and towns in England. Famous for its natural hot springs and stunning Georgian architecture, the grand city of Bath so beautiful it’s even been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For culture, head to Cheltenham – home to the renowned Jazz Festival, Literary festival and the glamorous Gold Cup horse racing event.
Traditional pubs – you know, the ones with a roaring open fire, friendly pub dog, real ale, idyllic beer garden – are at the heart of the rural Cotswolds. Stop in for a pint after a long walk, or settle down for the evening with a hearty meal and an overnight stay to really experience the joys of a good, old-fashioned English pub. You won’t find any better than right here.
At first glance you might not associate the tranquil beauty of The Cotswolds with high-octane adrenaline sports, but you’d be wrong. The area is a mountain biking hotspot, and home to The 417 Project – the biggest privately owned mountain bike facility in the country, just outside of Cheltenham. If two-wheels aren’t your thing, check out The Cotswold Water Park, for wild swimming, water-skiing and wakeboarding.
There’s no better way to discover the real Cotswolds than on foot. The Cotswold Way National Trail runs for 102 miles through this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, covering all aspects of the famous landscapes. Starting at Chipping Campden leading all the way to Bath, passing historic sites, ancient meadows, picture-perfect villages and beautiful woodland, just pick and choose where you decided to start and finish.
If celeb-spotting is your thing, you might just be in luck here! By far the most famous Cotswolds’ residents are The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, who live at Highgrove, just outside of the beautiful market town of Tetbury. But the area is also where famous faces including Kate Moss, Kate Winslet, Damien Hirst and Alex James (the Blur bassist turned award-winning cheese maker) call home.
Whether you’re into the stately order of a grand country house garden, or prefer the romantic beauty of a Victorian walled garden, The Cotswolds has a wealth of outdoor spots to fall in love with. Cerney House Gardens, close to Cirencester, feels like the pages of The Secret Garden have come to life, while Hidcote Manor Garden is an Arts and Crafts gem.