See the Cotswolds: introduction video

Visit Britain, our national Tourism organisation have launched a new campaign to promote the countryside. The “Countryside is GREAT” will run for three years promoting “Britain’s countryside as a place to enjoy modern culture, top quality food and world-class accommodation in a beautiful landscape”. They’ve launched a new website with loads of information including this video highlighting the Cotswolds.

Royal Crescent Bath

Taking a holiday in Oxford, Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon from your Cotswolds accommodation

For all of the undoubted attractions of the Cotswolds, ranging from picture-postcard villages to enchanting markets and all manner of other activities of interest, it’s always difficult to avoid the considerable draw of major towns and cities just outside the Cotswolds area. These include Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bath, three places rich in history, but also with plenty to offer right now to the curious holidaymaker.

The attractions of a holiday in Oxford are certainly obvious to anyone who has ever gazed upon the world-famous “dreaming spires” in Inspector Morse, or even sent a son or daughter to study there. They include the Carfax Tower and University Church of St Mary the Virgin that offer impressive views over that iconic skyline, while there’s also the historic Covered Market and the Thames/Isis and Cherwell rivers, where punting is a common sight in the summer.

However, eager intellectuals and museum-goers alike who embark on a holiday in Oxford will also delight in such fabled institutions as the Ashmolean Museum, Modern Art Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. But Oxford has a serious rival for the attentions of those visiting the Cotswolds and surrounding areas: the Somerset city of Bath.

Having first been established as a spa by the Romans, the city is of course especially famous for its Roman Baths. However, that the city was inscribed a World Heritage Site in 1987 also suggests that it possesses a wealth of other historical attractions, including Bath Abbey and the Royal Crescent, the latter an impressive sweep of terraced Georgian houses that has come to define Bath in the world’s eye.

The city also offers a wealth of restaurants, public houses and bars, together with regular open-top bus tours and even many distinguished parks and sporting venues. Such attractions help to make Bath more than a mere diversion on anyone’s holiday in Oxford or the Cotswolds, and much the same could be said of Stratford-upon-Avon, a south Warwickshire market town and civil parish that will always be irrevocably associated with William Shakespeare.

As the birthplace of the legendary playwright and poet, Stratford-upon-Avon is home to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, where the Royal Shakespeare Company is based, to say nothing of Shakespeare’s Birthplace itself, a restored 16th century half-timbered house on Henley Street. Described as “a Mecca for all lovers of literature”, the house is now a small museum giving you a priceless glimpse into Shakespeare’s early life – including his first five years of married life with wife Anne Hathaway.

When all of these attractions are taken together, it’s clear why a holiday in Oxford, Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon remains such a powerful draw for anyone who visits the Cotswolds and nearby areas – there’s simply no experience quite like those that these places offer.

St Mary's Churchyard, Painswick

Painswick, Queen of the Cotswolds

We’ve just had our sofa upholstered and it looks fabulous. (Bought on ebay for £10, fabric cost around £300, as did the work itself). Looks new. So much better than anything you get from DFS etc.

Anyway, we got the fabric from a shop in Painswick. Painswick Fabrics. Great place, and really helpful with advice if you need. Because it’s such an interesting town we walked about for a few hours and stopped for coffee at The Patchwork Mouse.

Painswick is between Cheltenham and Stroud, on the A46. See the location on a Google map here.  It’s built on the side of the valley with much of the town sloping steeply downwards. The centre and main road is perched up high getting a splendid view across the valley to the South East as you drive you in from Cheltenham. The town landmark is St Mary’s Church, a tall tower and spire and then you see the church yard and 99 Yew Trees sculptered in to great big mushroom shapes. Its another photographers/artists heaven (where isnt round here). Lots of interesting history I will leave you to discover, but look for the English civil war shrapnel marks in the tower wall and the pyramid tomb in the grave yard. There are some interesting shops and galleries including a wood turner, vintage and antiques. About half a mile from the centre is the Rococo Garden, a restored early 17th century ‘Pleasure Garden’ open mid January to end of October. Its pretty famous in these parts, carefully restored since the mid eighties. Not open the day we were in town but I’ve been a couple of times and its well worth a visit.

Plenty of good walking in these parts. Highly recommend Walk 24 from ’50 Walks in the Cotswolds’ published by the AA, which takes you on a circuit around the countryside above and through the town.

Check TripAdvisor for accommodation, but some excellent b&bs in town. Great choice for food aswell. Love the coffee!

Snowshill Lavender Farm

We are often asked when the peak season for roses and lavender will be each year. Until nearer the time, its tricky to be accurate and all dependent upon our weather. This photo was taken on Friday (12th July) and you can see much of the lavender in flower and its well worth visiting now. We are 2 weeks away from the peak time for the flowers and from then there will be another 5 weeks before the harvest. Snowshill Lavender Farm is a great place to visit this time of year. You can wander around the lavender fields, enjoy the fabulous views and visit the gift shop and tea room.

Lavender fields entry £2.50 Adults  £1.50 children (5+)
Open Monday to Sunday 10am to 5pm

Nearby: Broadway Tower, Snowshill

Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam railway

Steam railway in the Cotswolds

One of the best days out in the Cotswolds has to include the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam railway (GWSR). A dedicated group of volunteers have restored and reopened a section of the Honeybourne line, which ran from Cheltenham to Stratford upon Avon. Currently you can ride the trains between Cheltenham racecourse and Laverton but in the next few years when restorations are complete the trains will run as far as Broadway.

Last weekend we did the round trip from Cheltenham racecourse to Toddington. The boys love trains anyway but it’s impossible not to get excited and feel nostalgic when you hear the whistle and see the first puff of steam. Each of the stations have been restored and there’s plenty to see along the route which also stops at Gotherington and Winchcombe. At Toddington there is a cafe, kids play area, museum and a narrow gauge railway which will take you up to the train sheds. If you’re in the area May bank holiday weekend there will be a ‘Steam celebration’ with up to 7 engines, fairground rides, traction engines, brake van rides and engine footplate visits as well as hot and cold food and a beer tent! There are events all year, but check the website for news and the timetable.