The Cotswolds is a region in south central England known for its gentle rolling hills that descend from the upper Thames in Warwickshire to the town of Bath in Somerset. The route takes its name from “wolds” meaning “hillsides” which are sprinkled with hundreds and villages. Though the Cotswolds are just 40 kilometres across and 90 kilometres long, there is plenty to see and do along the route.
Your journey begins in Stratford-upon-Avon, the historic birthplace of the bard, William Shakespeare. Follow in the footsteps of England’s most influential poet and playwright. You might expect to find castles and keeps but instead you’ll find a bustling English village on the banks of the river Avon. Many of the sights and sounds that would have been familiar to Shakespeare live on in the city that is synonymous with the legendary wordsmith.
Proceed south to Chipping Camden, a village known for its quaint beauty and quintessential English charm. As its name suggests – “chipping” is derived from an Old English term for “market” – Chipping Camden is a market town with architecture that goes all the way back to the 14th century. Many of the buildings have a distinctive golden hue of locally quarried limestone known as Cotswold stone.
Moreton-in-Marsh is another market town at the intersection of the A249 and the A44, which dates back to Roman times. Its wide streets and brick lanes have welcomed travellers and merchants for hundreds of years. The 17th-century Curfew Tower presides over the junction of High Street and Oxford Street.
Continue south on to Stow-on-the-Wold, perched on top of a hill overlooking the valley. Stow-on-the-Wold was an important centre for the buying and selling of sheep that produced world-renowned Cotswold wool. At one time, as many as 20,000 sheep were herded through the village: approximately ten sheep for every resident.
Make your way to Cirencester, the largest town in the Cotswold district and home to the Royal Agriculture University, the oldest university of its kind. Although Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria sang Cirencester’s praises in the 2nd century, rest assured its attractions are no less appealing today.
Follow A453 south to Tetbury, a town built on the site of an ancient hill fort in the 7th century. His Royal Highness Prince Charles resides in nearby Highgrove. If you’re looking for a place to stop and relax with tea or spirits, Tetbury offers an abundance of cafes, pubs and shops, some which bear the symbol of the Royal Warrant of the Prince of Wales.
Finish your tour of the Cotswolds in Bath, which takes its name from the Roman Baths that can still be visited today. A World Heritage site since 1987, Bath also boasts an elegant display of Georgian architecture that is regarded as the best in all of Britain. From lazy days taking the waters at the hot springs to inspiring nights at one of five theatres, this bustling city is the perfect place to conclude your exploration of the Cotswolds.
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