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The Cotswolds: An experience of sheer pleasure in the U.K.

The Cotswolds of England
Photo: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Warren Hanratty

The lovely Cotswolds offers green fields, pretty lakes, beautiful viewpoints and some of the quaintest and most attractive villages in the whole of the U.K.  Why travel to foreign climes when there is a perfect destination right here at home in England? And if traveling from other areas of the world, the Cotswolds are a treat that you will remember for a lifetime. 
Sudeley Castle, The Cotswolds The Cotswolds consist of a series of gently rolling hills, arising from the meadows of the upper Thames and heading down the Cotswold Edge, a scenic escarpment above the Severn Valley and Evesham Vale. 25 miles (40 km) across and 90 miles (145 km) long, it encompasses several English counties. While mainly covered in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, the area also spreads into areas of Somerset, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. 

The Cotswolds are designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or AONB. The award of AONB is not given lightly and is offered to an area “designated for conservation due to its significant landscape value.” The Cotswolds live up to the name perfectly.

When staying in the area, while there are several lovely hotels and bed & breakfasts, for a true experience it is recommended that you look at accommodation with Character Cottages, staying in a traditional cottage home built of the locally quarried, golden coloured and attractive Cotswold stone.

The following is a breakdown of just some the best places to go and things to do in this gorgeous scenic location.

  Photo: CC by-SA 3.0 W. Lloyd MacKenzie
Explore the Cotswolds villages

There are several pretty little towns and villages in the Cotswolds, all built with the previously mentioned attractive golden Cotswold stone. Meandering through the quaint streets with the lovely cottages, pretty gardens and friendly residents is a joy in itself.

For more interest while exploring the towns, visit the Tewkesbury Heritage Centre which is a beautifully restored 17th century building.  Previously a hat shop, the heritage centre now gives the history of the Cotswolds and its beautiful architectural heritage.

For something really special, visit the Secret Cottage, which is actually a tour of the North Cotswolds villages, ending up in the cottage itself, a 400 year old building where you can enjoy a tasty lunch or an afternoon cream tea.  This tour is great for families and individual visitors and also for history buffs.

Cotswold Village
Photo: Castle Combe CC by-SA 3.0 W. Lloyd MacKenzie
The Cotswold Way
The Cotswold Way and Thames Path

For those with more of a bent for the countryside and fresh air, the Cotswolds offers more than 5,000 km of footpaths.

For the more serious walker or cyclist, the Cotswold Way and Thames Path are perfect, taking you through several towns and villages with gorgeous scenery along the way.

If walking and cycling are not of interest, horse riding is a perfect activity in the area and there are several riding centres available for both beginners and more experienced riders.  The more experienced will enjoy long distance routes through the Cotswolds, including the Sabrina Way.

  Photo CC BY-SA 3.0 Ballista
The Cotswold Water Park

This area of the Cotswolds offers the U.K.’s largest “marl” lake system.  This is a series of lakes created by the extraction of Jurassic limestone gravel over the last 50 years or so and now that work has ceased, these have filled with water, creating a beautiful water park.

Bear in mind this is not the usual fun water park found in a seaside town. The Cotswold Water Park is an area perfect for those interested in wildlife and birds and offers a range of activities including fishing and sailing.

In conclusion, make a plan this spring or summer to take in the beauty of this truly lovely area of England. The whole family will thoroughly enjoy themselves and make memories for a lifetime..

The Cotswold Water Park
Photo:CC BY-SA 2.0  Brian Robert Marshall
The Cotswolds of England
Photo: CC by-SA 3.0 W. Lloyd MacKenzie, via Flickr 


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