The Cotswolds is a region in south-central England, a large portion of which was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 – spanning across 790 square miles, this is the larges AONB across both England and Wales.
Villages in the Cotswolds are world-renowned for their golden-coloured cottages, made from the Jurassic limestone that is quarried in the region. If you enjoy hiking, there are over 3,000 miles of public footpaths to explore in the AONB, with the Cotswold Way being a popular choice for long-distance hikers.
Read on for some highlights on what to do, and where to go, during your next visit to the Cotswolds.
Bibury is a charming village, just a short drive from Cirencester, which was famously described by artist William Morris as “the most beautiful village in England”. If you visit, make sure you amble down Arlington Row and admire the picture-perfect cottages; these were built in the fourteenth century as monastic wool stores, then converted into weavers’ cottages in the seventeenth century. Now owned by the National Trust, they are one of England’s most photographed sites – they even make an appearance on the inside cover of UK passports issued between 2010 and 2015!
2. Castle Combe
Castle Combe is a village in northeast Wiltshire, sitting within the boundaries of the Cotswolds AONB. Its streets are lined with honey-coloured houses, made with Cotswold stone. In the heart of the town, you will find a fourteenth-century market cross, as well as St. Andrew’s Church, which dates back to the thirteenth century.
3. Broadway Tower
The tallest castle in the Cotswolds, Broadway Tower provides spectacular views over a 200-acre parkland estate and 16 counties beyond. Broadway Tower is a folly atop Beacon Hill, which in itself is the second-highest point of the Cotswolds.
4. The Cotswold Way
Fancy a hiking trip? Extending from the English market town of Chipping Camden to the Roman city of Bath, the Cotswold Way is a picturesque, long-distance walk and an official National Trail. It spans 102 miles, and it runs mostly along the twists and turns of the Cotswold escarpment.
Often referred to as the ‘Capital of the Cotswolds’, Cirencester is a charming market town with a compelling history. In Roman times, it was known as ‘Corinium Dobunnorum’ and it was the second largest town in Britain, second only to London. During the sixth century, the town was destroyed by the Saxons and renamed ‘Coryn Ceasre’.
The town of Tetbury is steeped in history. It’s remained substantially unchanged since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when it became an important market for Cotswold wool and yarn. The picturesque Market House is Tetbury’s focal point; other notable buildings include the historic Elizabethan house at Chavenage, the Norman castle at Beverston and Highgrove House and Gardens.
7. Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace is a historic house and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Woodstock. Inside, you can explore 300 years of history in the palace’s gilded State Rooms. Outside, you can wander around 150 acres of surrounding formal gardens or take the miniature train to the nearby walled garden. Did you know that Blenheim was also the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill?
8. Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter
For a quintessentially ‘Cotswolds’ experience, visit the twin villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter. On either side of the River Eye, known locally as ‘Slaughter Brook’, the two villages have remained virtually unchanged for more than a century, with no building work whatsoever taking place since 1906.
9.The Roman Baths
Situated in the heart of the City of Bath World Heritage Site, the Roman Baths were once one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world. Nearly 2,000 years ago, the people of Roman Britain came here to worship the goddess Sulis Minerva and bathe in the waters of the thermal springs, which still flow to this day.
Planning a trip to the Cotswolds? Discover everything this area has to offer with our fully updated Collins Pocket Map, only £3.99.