Fancy giving the driver a rest and enjoying a car-free break in the Cotswolds? Touring the picturesque Cotswold villages...
Prior Park Walk, Bath
Taking in the skyline of the World Heritage City of Bath from the Landscape Gardens of Prior Park is a must on holiday in the Cotswolds.
This dog-friendly National Trust walk is a gentle, circular, six mile route filled with interest. The feature 18th century Palladian bridge is one of only four in the world which you can cross; there’s the garden ice house, thatched garden cottage, grotto and gothic temple features, all designed under the expert creative vision of Alexander Pope and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown for Bath entrepreneur and philanthropist Ralph Allen.
Look out for seasonal family-friendly trails, a tree swing to find and lots of secret paths to adventure down.
Hidcote Gardens, Chipping Campden
Hidcote is one of the best Arts and Crafts gardens in Britain and also the first garden of national importance taken on under the National Trust and Royal Horticultural Society’s Gardens Fund, created to protect gardens of significant interest.
A must-see on any holiday in the Cotswolds, Hidcote Gardens was the project of American Horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston. Johnston created a series of outdoor rooms designed to surprise and delight. Managed since 1948 under the stewardship of the National Trust, the gardens include plants collected from Johnston’s travels, and are one of the most inspiring garden designs in the UK.
As visitors explore the modest 10.5 acres, the rooms take you on a journey through the very best of decorative garden design, from narrowed paths dotted with ornate benches to those designed with hidden views. Hidcote can be enjoyed all year around, with deep colour from the Red Border in autumn, the warmth of the plant house in the summer months and in spring, hedges are cut back, borders cleared for bulbs and cherry and magnolia blossom put on a theatrical display.
Pick up a copy of House of Glass by Stratford-upon-Avon novelist Susan Fletcher, where the Gloucestershire garden was modelled on Hidcote, and enjoy a few pages whilst taking in the tranquillity of a garden picnic in the wilderness area.
Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire
This deer park and 17th century house and gardens nestled on one end of the Cotswold Ridge, is a favourite for families staying in and around Chippenham.
The 270 acres of parkland, where a historic herd of fallow deer roam freely, and sprawling garden lawns and long sweeping pathways are an easy way for all ages and accessibility needs to enjoy plenty of fresh air in the stunning Cotswold countryside.
Inside, kids are welcomed with seasonal trails and activity packs to keep occupied and visitors are transported back to the life King William IIIs Secretary of State, William Blathway, for whom the mansion was built.
The impressive 300 year old house includes a Versailles-inspired orangery, a famous Great Hall, dairy and covered passage to a 13th century church. It is one of the best surviving Baroque interiors in the UK and features regularly on film and TV.
Dyrham Park is particularly well-catered for all the family, with several outdoor play areas, including the popular Old Lodge, featuring under 5s and under 10s play areas with ride-on diggers and tractors. And outside, the wooden obstacle course at Hollow Ways is a fun challenge for kids and adults alike.
This is a protected deer park and so unfortunately the house, gardens and parkland are not dog-friendly. However, there is a small dog walking area by the car park for visitors with dogs. The National Trust also provide a great local guide to dog-friendly walks near Dyrham Park.
Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire
Let Nothing Perish is the motto of Snowshill Manor’s former owner, architect and collector Charles Wade. And Snowshill Manor is packed to the rafters with one of the most famous antique collections in the UK.
Wade, whose family owned sugar cane plantations in the West Indies, refurbished Snowhill with the single intention, not to live in it, but for the manor to house his collection, curated from his extensive travels.
Outside, set within the two acre gardens, is a magical miniature fishing village, designed by Wade in 1919. Following six years of careful restoration, Wade’s humour can be enjoyed by visitors today who make a beeline for “Wolf’s Cove Harbour” at Snowshill Manor during their holiday in the Cotswolds.