The Cotswolds

Having been a best kept secret for years it is now popular with both the British and visitors from all over the world, the Cotswolds are renowned for their gentle hillsides (‘wolds’), sleepy villages and for being just so ‘typically English'. Great places to stay right on the water with many enjoying a short romantic break away or weekend get together, as well as being ideal for family holidays.

With over 150 lakes spread over 40 square miles the Cotswold Water Park covers 14 different Cotswold villages and includes a wide range of leisure activities, water-sports, fishing, nature reserves and many lovely country pubs and local restaurants.

Many of the lakes offer some excellent self-catering lakeside holiday cottages and lodges. These can provide various additional options such as on site facilities including, heated swimming pool, tennis, spa access and some excellent fishing (lake development dependent).

Nearby villages, towns & Cities

In easy reach are the well-loved spa cities of Bath, home to Britain’s only natural thermal spa, and Cheltenham - a fine example of a Regency town. Cheltenham today plays host to sporting and cultural festivals ranging from racing and science to literature and jazz. Nestled between these cities are hundreds of delightful villages and small medieval market towns such as Burford, Castle Combe, Chedworth and Bibury.

Even the lesser known villages hold secrets with treasures to be found when you head off the beaten track perhaps to Painswick, Biddestone, Winchcombe or Woodstock, or to a remarkably unspoilt historic church, such as at Northleach - known affectionately as the “Cathedral of the Cotswolds”. Opening the church door will unveil the historical secrets housed within.

Out and about, you’ll see fields edged with dry stone walls everywhere you look. Many were built in the 18th and 19th centuries, a matter of considerable artisan skill - especially when you bear in mind there’s no cement holding the stones together! They represent an important historical landscape and a major conservation feature – and are of course still used by farmers today to keep sheep and cattle safely in fields…….unless of course you find yourself in the historic market town of Minchinhampton. Here from May to October herds of cows roam freely from the National Trust Common down to the centre of town. It’s nothing unusual to see them “mooving” their way between the cars and pedestrians with everyone taking it all in their stride.

During the 13-15th centuries in the medieval period, native Cotswold sheep were famous in Europe for their heavy fleeces and high quality wool. Cotswold wool commanded a high price and the profit generated enabled wealthy traders to build fine houses and wonderful churches, known as “wool churches”. The sight of sheep on the hillside continues to be one of the most captivating Cotswold images. Today, larger market towns and villages in the Cotswolds are famous for their shopping. Not to be missed are Stow-on-the-Wold, Cirencester, Chipping Norton and Tetbury. You may be in The Cotswolds, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a little retail therapy!

Cirencester

The “Capital of the Cotswolds" Cirencester, has the unmistakable air of a lively market town, and is a mere 15 minute drive away. Its street market, held in the large and impressive Market Place, is a colourful twice-weekly feature of town life. The town's origins lie in the Roman period when it was one of the regional capitals. The Corinium Museum in the centre of town, narrates this story with reconstructions of how life was in Roman Cirencester, or Corinium Dobunnorum as it was known.

In a nutshell, The Cotswolds has it all – stunning scenery and a landscape packed with picture-post-card towns and villages boasting cultural events and outdoor pursuits to suit every taste.