11 reasons you really should visit the Cotswolds
It’s easy to see why the Cotswolds, our charming corner of rural England, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK. Rolling hills and sweeping meadows, pastoral villages and majestic homes are all part of the reasons people love coming to the Cotswolds and returning again and again.
Check out these 11 reasons you really should visit the Cotswolds.
1. It’s unfailingly lovely.
The magnificent, honey-coloured towns and villages of the Cotswolds look as if they have strayed into the twenty-first century from another period. The wool cathedrals and manor residences built by wealthy textile merchants bear witness to the area’s sheep-shaped heritage.
2. There is a lot of it.
The “wolds,” or rolling hills, are the largest of England and Wales’ 38 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, covering over 800 square miles spanning five counties (Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire).
3. It is linked to literature.
Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee’s magnum opus, had already become a classic when he died in May 1997. Lee caught the soul of a specific region of England and made it his own in this lyrical picture of his Cotswolds boyhood. The scribe, who was born in Stroud, Gloucestershire, stayed true to the Cotswolds till the end, dying at the age of 82 in the village of Slad, barely two miles from where he was born.
4. And there are plenty of royal ties.
Although the Cotswolds is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it also has several remarkable man-made structures, most of which were created for royalty. The Prince of Wales’s Highgrove Estate, available to the public, and Corsham Court, a majestic former royal manor with grounds built by Capability Brown, are both highlights. It is also open to the public.
5. It serves as a gateway to some beautiful cities. The Cotswolds are surrounded by some of the country’s most sophisticated minor cities: festival-loving Cheltenham is to the west, Elgar’s Worcester is to the north, the university metropolis of Oxford flirts with the eastern flanks, and Cirencester and Bath are to the south.
6. There is an abundance of delectable produce.
Gloucestershire Old Spot pork, lamb, fruit and vegetables, including asparagus and plums, and double and single Gloucester cheese and fish from Donnington and Bibury trout farms are all local favourites.
7. And the chefs in the area know how to prepare it.
Any restaurant worth its salt in the Cotswolds thrives on the region’s immensely varied ingredients, and the development of the gastropub has revolutionised eating out in the Cotswolds.
8. Some of the most excellent pubs in the country.
In the Cotswolds, you’ll find everything from 17th-century cider houses to timeworn real ale taverns to whet your whistle.
9. The villages are breathtaking.
The Cotswolds is full of charming villages, and while each one has its own personality, thanks to the lovely Cotswold stone from which they are built, they all have a similar appearance. Visitors can enjoy a pint at a local pub, fine Cotswold cuisine in a local café, or browse the items in one of the many antique shops in addition to admiring the architecture.
10. There are some lovely gardens.
If you enjoy spending your afternoons in rose-scented gardens, don’t miss a visit to Hidcote, one of Britain’s most well-known Arts and Crafts gardens. Major Lawrence Johnston, a renowned horticulturist, designed Hidcote, including floral borders, sculpted hedges, and rare trees, among other spectacular blossoms. Batsford Arboretum and Kiftsgate Court Sites are two other gardens worth visiting.
11. And some great places to walk.
The Cotswolds have several beautiful walking trails, but if you just take one, make it the mile-long stroll between the villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter – the latter portion of the name has nothing to do with butchery and stems from the Anglo Saxon word muck. This charming path runs alongside the River Eye, through rose-clad houses, and skirts an old flour mill (now a tea and craft shop and a museum).