cotswalds-of-englandThe rolling hills of the Cotswolds stretch across five counties of England and take in historic towns and villages of great character, alongside beautiful rural scenery. This is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

As an area to visit, the Cotswolds offers a quintessentially English holiday experience, with sites of historical interest, a wide variety of activities, and places where you can simply relax and enjoy the natural world around you. It also offers a great choice in holiday cottages and self-catering holiday accommodation.

Unspoilt Towns and Villages

Some towns in the Cotswolds are rightly famous – Cheltenham, Gloucester and Cirencester for example – but there are others, tucked away in semi-seclusion that preserve an historical magic, and feel like well kept secrets.

In the North Cotswolds you’ll find Bourton-on-the-Hill, containing many 17th and 18th century cottages made of the distinctive, yellow Cotswold stone. In the centre of the village is Bourton House Garden with its historical tithe barn and striking plants and flowers. Nearby is Batsford Arboretum, which has a garden centre and adjoining terrace restaurant.

A little off the tourist trail is the village of Naunton, home to a fine pub and historic dovecote. It’s peaceful, scenic, and dotted with footpaths along which visitors can explore the surrounding area.

Winchcombe maintains a feeling of tranquillity despite being a popular centre for walkers on the Cotswolds Way. This market town is a great base for exploring the more rural areas of the Cotswolds but is itself a great visitor destination. The Gloucestershire Warwickshire heritage railway runs through it and it contains many charming, independent shops, pubs, cafés and restaurants.

More well known is the Stow on the Wold, the highest of the Cotswolds towns, situated on the 800ft high Stow Hill. It has a vast market square, a testament to its historical importance as a trading town. It hosts a biannual Gypsy Horse Fair and it’s a great centre for antique shopping. It has plenty of fascinating boutiques and specialist shops, as well as pubs and tearooms.

Activities in the Cotswolds

For those seeking a more challenging, physically active holiday, the Cotswolds isn’t all idyllic scenery and views. It’s a great place for walking and cycling holidays, including the Cotswold Way, stretching the length of the Cotswolds, from Chipping Campden in the north to its finish at Bath Abbey, in the south.

The 102 mile trail takes you through picturesque villages and close by to historical sites such as Sudeley Castle and Hailes Abbey, so there’s plenty of opportunity to stop off and take in these places of interest.

For cyclists, the numerous country lanes and bridleways of the area provide an excellent network for exploration, combined with enough uphill exercise and downhill stretches to make you feel you’ve earned a drink and something substantial to eat in one of the many characterful local pubs.