Cotswolds: a 'quintessentially English' experience

Page author

by Conrad - 08 October 2014

With its rolling hills, quaint villages and honey stone houses it is not surprising that the Cotswolds has been named an area of outstanding natural beauty - but did you know it is also famous for cheese rolling, hot air ballooning and home to Prince Charles?

This beautiful corner of southern-central England is located only an hour and a half's drive from London, and 30 minutes from Bath, Bristol and Birmingham.

Combine its ease of accessibility with its scale - this is a region that covers 800 square miles and six counties (Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Somerset) - and then you start to understand why this is a popular region with plenty to see and do.

And here are some of the highlights...

Water babes might like to spend a morning strolling around the picturesque riverside village of Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire - known as Little Venice, due to several low-lying stone bridges. It is worth taking lunch or afternoon tea at either of the nearby market towns of Stow-on-the-Wold and Moreton-in-Marsh, while spending a night in the spa town of Cheltenham.

Cheltenham is famous for the arcades and cafés of the Montpellier area, Regency architecture and a series of festivals - with the most famous among sport enthusiasts being The Festival at Cheltenham racecourse, which every March culminates in the battle for the Gold Cup.

Elsewhere in Gloucestershire Sudley Castle and Cirencester Abbey are well worth a look-in, with lesser-known Chipping Campden, its elegant terraced high street and links to the Arts and Crafts Movement, an attraction to appreciators of handmade ironwork, jewellery and furniture.

Literary enthusiasts cannot pass through the Cotswolds without stopping in Stratford-upon-Avon - birthplace of Shakespeare - or Oxford with its world-famous university that is believed to be the oldest in the English-speaking world, and each year goes head-to-head with its intellectual and sporting rivals from Cambridge in the University Boat Race.

But it is perhaps Bath's Roman baths and Wiltshire's Stonehenge that are two of the most popular destinations.

Finally if history, fine architecture or the countryside are not your thing, you might want to take part in one of the dozens of weird and wonderful local contests and competitions that take place every year across the Cotswolds from woolsack races to chasing rolls of cheese down steep hills.

With so much to see and do, the only thing to worry about now is just how you will have time to fit it all in and where to begin your travels. How about Salisbury or Gloucester?