Character Cottages

71 Top Tips For a Trip to The Cotswolds

71 Tips Title Image

The Cotswolds is a special place. So much so that it has been named an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and it welcomes a plethora of visitors and holidaymakers throughout the year, who come to sample its many charms and attractions

This area of south central England is famous for its chocolate box villages and rolling hills, which stretch from the meadows of the upper Thames to the heights of Cotswold Edge, above the scenic Severn Valley and Evesham Vale. But what is there to do there? Well, if you need inspiring here are 71 ideas to whet your appetite...

The Best Walks

1) Cooper's Hill and Brockworth Wood
A brief stroll over just over two miles through striking woodland.

2) Lineout Wood and Ravensgate Hill
Discover wild flowers in Lineout Wood, then take in the amazing views from the top of Ravensgate Hill, on this three and a half mile walk.

3) Haresfield Hill and Cliff Wood
Clear views of the Severn Estuary and the West Country can be enjoyed from Haresfield Hill on this walk of just under four miles.

4) Dursley and Cam Long Down
Another great walk for views, which are best on this four mile route at Peaked Down and Cam Long Down.

5) Stanton and Stanway
An excellent Cotswold walk of four and a half miles, on which you may well recognise scenes from famous period dramas.

6) Cleeve Hill
Cleeve Hill is the highest point on the Cotswold Hills, so the views of Evesham Vale really are special.

7) Little and Old Sodbury and Horton
This is a lovely walk of just more than four and a half miles, which takes you to three typical Cotswold villages, as well as a hill fort.

8) Painswick and Painswick Beacon
A walk of four and a half miles around the so-called Queen of the Cotswolds, Painswick.

9) Uley, Nympsfield and Frocester Hill
Anyone interested in Neolithic history will love this walk.

10) Stroud and Standish Wood
A five mile hike from a place called Westrip on the edge of Stroud, via Haresfield Hill to the stunning Standish Wood.

11) Broadway Tower Country Park
A popular walk of just over five miles takes you around the park where you can see red deer, and take a break in a picturesque picnic area.

12) Upton Cheyney and Lansdown Hill
The views of Bristol from Hanging Hill and Bath from Lansdown Hill are well worth the five and a half mile trek.

13) Stinchcombe Hill and North Nibley
This slightly longer walk of seven and a bit miles begins in Dursley and provides a relentless bombardment of beautiful views.

14) Chipping Campden and Cotswold Way
For a more extreme test of fitness you could attempt the long distance 102 mile walk from Chipping Campden along Cotswold Way!

The Best Activities

15) Wakeboarding
If you yearn for more adrenaline-fuelled fun perhaps wakeboarding is for you, which you can try at Cotswold Water Park, near Cirencester.

16) Cycling
There are numerous scenic cycling routes through the Cotswolds, which include Cirencester via Keynes Country Park, Chipping Campden via Aston Magna and Bourton-on-the-Water via Stow-on-the-Wold (for all you hyphen lovers!)

17) 4x4 off-roading
Petrol heads can enjoy the scenery bumping along at high speed on a 4x4 off-roading adventure. These experiences are available at a number of sites in the area.

18) Car rallying
Another high octane activity that Cotswolds visitors can take part in is car rallying, an experience offered by the Gloucestershire Rally School.

19) Horse riding
Various riding schools in the Cotswolds offer lessons to riders of all levels. Alternatively there are events to watch from pony racing to polo.

The Best Historical Sites

20) Blenheim Palace and gardens
The birthplace of Winston Churchill and home to the Duke of Marlborough has to be on your to-do list if you're at all interested in history or architecture.

21) Broadway Tower
This outstanding (in more ways than one) tower stands 312 metres above sea level and is worth visiting for the views it offers, as much as the impressive Gothic folly itself.

22) Shakespeare's Home
Many visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon go to the birthplace of England's most famous man of letters.

23) Charlecote Park
This 16th century manor house five miles from Stratford once hosted Queen Elizabeth I. The grounds were designed by Capability Brown and Shakespeare used to poach deer there.

24) Chedworth Roman Villa
Chedworth, near Cheltenham, is home to one of the largest Roman villas in the country.

25) Gloucester Cathedral
John Betjeman described Gloucester Cathedral as Northern Europe's sixth most beautiful building and it remains an amazing feat of building and design.

26) Hailes Abbey
This Cistercian Abbey was founded in 1246 and at one point became famous when people thought it was home to a phial of the Holy Grail. Later analysis showed it to contain nothing more than duck's blood.

27) Holst Birthplace Museum
The birthplace of composer Gustav Holst is now a museum of Victorian life, which contains the man's piano and tells the story of his life.

28) Malmesbury Abbey
A 7th century Benedictine monastery which was once a European hub of learning. Today the abbey is relatively well preserved and its gardens are particularly beautiful.

29) Roman Baths
The Roman Baths in the aptly named city of Bath was built in the first century AD, and still attracts floods of visitors (pardon the pun) to take a dip in its soothing spa waters.

The Best Eateries

30) Le Champignon Sauvage
A compact and elegant restaurant in Cheltenham which proudly holds two Michelin stars.

31) Wild Thyme
This increasingly popular Chipping Norton eatery is famous for its fusion of classic English dishes with Mediterranean flair.

32) Wild Garlic
A short but well thought out and fun menu is available at this Nailsworth restaurant, which produces everything on the premises.

33) Made by Bob
Cirencester folk are very enthusiastic about Bob Parkinson's deli as well as his café in the Corn Hall, which serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner – the latter just on Thursdays and Fridays.

34) Fox Inn
Lower Oddington's top spot for food is probably Fox Inn, where you can find unusual cuts of meat, such as loin of deer and rump of lamb.

35) The Bell at Sapperton
A rural Cirencester restaurant with award-winning local cuisine.

36) The Five Alls
Great brasserie style food is available at this foodie pub, which is visited by the likes of Kate Moss.

37) The Village Pub
A good choice in the Barnsley area for quality country food served in an unpretentious way.

38) The Horse and Groom
An innovative gastropub with inventive takes on traditional dishes.

39) Kings Head Inn
A deceptively sophisticated restaurant with an excellent seasonal selection to choose from.

40) The Wheatsheaf Inn
A Northleach eatery that offers top nourishment and flavours at fair prices.

The Best Places To Drink

41) Hook Norton Brewery
Take a tour to see the brewing in process and work up a thirst for a taste of the finished product.

42) The Dirty Duck
A welcoming and historic pub in Stratford-upon-Avon, located on the waterfront.

43) The Fleece Inn
An almost stereotypical old world English pub, complete with thatched barn and orchard beer garden.

44) The Ebrington Arms
A 'whole package' pub, with rooms to rent, a top restaurant and a great selection of ale on tap.

45) Old Spot Inn
A good old fashioned CAMRA pub located at the foot of Stinchcombe Hill in Dursley. This is an award-winning hostelry with a fantastic atmosphere.

46) Kemble Brewery Inn
A Cheltenham pub that enjoys great popularity among locals and visitors alike.

47) The Carpenters Arms
A gastropub with a good choice of beer and wine for the thirsty traveller.

48) The Severn Bore Inn
Recommended as a family pub for those in the Gloucester area.

The Best Accommodation

Rental cottages:

49) Character Cottages
Of course! Sample traditional Cotswolds cottages with lots to choose from throughout the area.

B&Bs:

50) Uplands House
If you prefer a B&B to a cottage Uplands House near Banbury is comfortable and has won awards.

51) Abbott's Grange
A large, luxury bed and breakfast in attractive grounds.

52) The Close
A charming 16th century property in Tetbury, with walled garden and fountain, as well as its own restaurant.

53) Merton Grounds
Luxury lodgings in the heart of the Cotswolds countryside.

Hotels:

54) Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa
A sizeable five star hotel in expansive, attractive gardens in Malmesbury.

55) Number Four at Stow
A popular place to stay thanks to friendly staff and a good restaurant.

56) Ellenborough Park
A striking five star hotel in Cheltenham with its own outdoor swimming pool and top customer reviews.

The Best Entertainment

57) The Swan Theatre
An intimate, 450 seat theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon that shows plenty of Shakespeare, as well as more contemporary plays.

58) National Hunt Festival
A famous four day horse racing event which takes place at Prestbury Park every March.

59) Chipping Norton Literary Festival
Or Chiplitfest, as it is sometimes known, runs every April, attracting readers, writers and famous authors alike.

60) Nailsworth Festival
A local festival combining various arts with food and drink – held every May.

61) Winchcombe Festival of Music and Arts
An exhibition and celebration of everything from painting to patchwork and puppetry, held every May.

62) Broadway Arts Festival
A chance for locals and visitors of all ages and abilities to get creative. This festival in June covers graphic art, as well as literature, music and drama.

63) Cotswold Show
Cotswold Show and Food Festival has everything from animals and country pursuits to great local food, family fun and shopping.

64) Art Couture
Art Couture is based in Painswick and is perhaps best known for the elaborate and extraordinary costumes that attendants put together for the event.

65) Wilderness Festival
Wilderness is a festival that celebrates music, art, dance, debate and fun. It's a hugely popular event held in August at Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, and for many the setting matches the festival.

The Best Of The Rest

66) Steam railways
A great alternative way to see the Cotswolds is by steam train, and there are numerous steam railways to choose from in this part of the country, from Avon Valley Steam Railway to Brecon Mountain Railway and Dean Forest Railway.

67) Woolsack Races
The Woolsack Races is a local idiosyncrasy that is well worth watching if you find yourself in Tetbury in late May. Essentially, competitors take on the 240 yard course with a wool sack on their back, in a sprint to get the fastest time.

68) Painswick ancient clipping ceremony
A local ceremony known as clipping the church involves children with garlands in their hair joining hands to embrace the church and sing the 'Clipping hymn'.

69) Cheese rolling
A now world famous event where people chase a wheel of cheese down Cooper's Hill in late May. This has resulted in numerous injuries but the lure of that cheese keeps competitors and visitors going back year after year.

70) Robert Dover's Olympick Games
A small rural version of the Olympics has been running in Gloucestshire for over 400 years, and the so-called Robert Dover's Olympick Games still draws a crowd. Events include Champion of the Hill, Tug o' War, Shin Kicking and much more.

71) Glifford Circus
At Folly Farm at Bourton-on-the-Water you can experience the delightful Glifford Circus, which offers magic, animals and unusual entertainment that you will certainly remember.

So there you have it. 71 great things to see, do and experience on a trip to the Cotswolds. We love our area and every visitor we speak to that stays in our cottages also seem to like it as much as we do! If you haven't been yet then hopefully this list will tickle your taste buds for a Cotswolds visit!

Receive exclusive offers from Character Cottages