Monday 24 April 2017

10 reasons to visit the Cotswolds

Famed for its picture-perfect villages, quaint tea rooms, and beautiful rolling countryside, the Cotswolds certainly has plenty to tempt visitors to this glorious corner of rural England, with SoGlos selecting 10 reasons to explore the region.

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty spanning 800 square miles, it’s no wonder the Cotswolds attracts 20 million visitors every year, who come to experience the quintessential beauty of rural England.

Whether you want to enjoy a pint of real ale at a country pub, explore chocolate box villages, or lace up your hiking boots for a spot of walking, the Cotswolds is perfect for family holidays, romantic getaways and weekends with friends.

You only have to look up the hashtag ‘Cotswolds’ on Instagram to discover that it’s rather photogenic, with more than 400,000 posts showcasing the beauty of the region.

In celebration of English Tourism Week, which runs from Saturday 25 March to Sunday 2 April 2017, SoGlos is celebrating all the Cotswolds has to offer, giving you even more reasons to hop in the car and visit this truly stunning region.

1. Picture-perfect villages

Visitors to the Cotswolds are spoilt for choice with attractive towns and villages just waiting to be explored. Bourton-on-the-Water, known as the Venice of the Cotswolds because of the River Windrush which runs through its centre, is a must-see on any Cotswold itinerary.

Other note-worthy places include the town of Burford, famed for its pretty houses and abundance of antique shops; the market town of Stow-on-the-Wold, which is brimming with tea rooms; Winchcombe, a great base for walkers; and Broadway, home to 18th-century folly Broadway Tower. Find inspiration with our round up of 14 picture-perfect Cotswold destinations.

2. Quintessential tea rooms

If ever there was a place to enjoy a cream tea, it’s the Cotswolds, which is home to plenty of pretty spots to indulge in sumptuous scones and endless pots of steaming hot tea, often served in pretty vintage china.

Visit any of the Cotswold towns and villages and you’ll come across everything from quintessential tea rooms to luxury hotels serving full blown afternoon teas. For delicious inspiration, check out our round up of 14 of the best Cotswold tea rooms.

3. Historic attractions

Home to stunning historic attractions spanning splendid castles and impressive stately homes, history buffs of all ages have plenty to keep them entertained on a visit to the Cotswolds.

Soak up the majestic Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, a beautiful 15th century stately home with royal connections; see flamboyant follies at Painswick Rococo Garden or visit some of the many National Trust properties including Snowshill Manor, which celebrates the life of Charles Paget Wade, and the 17th century Lodge Park.

4. Beautiful walking

The Cotswold Way, a 100-mile route that stretches from Chipping Campden down to Bath, is paradise for walkers wanting to soak up the beauty of the region on two feet, with some sections also suitable for cyclists and horses.

Choose to tackle small stretches at a time before enjoying a pub lunch, or plan a walking holiday that takes in the whole route and includes accommodation stops along the way. Discover some of the best Cotswold pub walks that are perfect for refuelling with a pint.

5. Glorious gardens

With an array of glorious gardens providing horticultural inspiration for green-fingered enthusiasts, there are certainly plenty of places to appreciate nature when visiting the Cotswolds, including the internationally renowned Hidcote Manor Garden near Chipping Campden.

Don’t miss imaginative topiary at Bourton House Garden near Moreton-in-Marsh, see impressive trees at Batsford Arboretum, and enjoy a sensory experience at Cotswold Lavender during the summer months.

6. Dream properties

From cute cottages and sprawling barn conversions, to elegant town houses and Instagram-worthy front doors, prepare to fall hard for dreamy properties when visiting the Cotswold – trust us, you’ll be stalking Rightmove before you know it!

Expect to see golden-coloured Cotswold stone galore, with the beautiful Jurassic limestone characteristic of properties across the region. Head to Bibury to snap a picture of the charming Arlington Row, or visit the market town of Chipping Campden to see fine examples of building craftsmanship.

7. Family-friendly destinations

The Cotswolds has something for all ages but is particularly perfect for families visiting the region thanks to its bumper crop of family-friendly attractions and days out.

Children will love getting friendly with fluffy animals at Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park, seeing the rhinos at Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, or running about among the towering trees at Westonbirt Arboretum.

8. Memorable drives

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One of the best ways to appreciate all the Cotswolds had to offer is by getting behind the wheel to explore the windy country roads, rolling countryside, and discover more off-the-beaten track destinations along the way. Don’t miss our round up of the best visitor attractions worth getting in the car for.

In the north Cotswolds, the drive from Chipping Norton to Moreton-in-Marsh is particularly scenic, and you can include a stop at National Trust property, Chastleton House. In the south Cotswolds, head from Northleach to Cirencester before hopping back in the car to go to Rodborough Common, where you can sample a scoop or two of Winstones ice-cream.

9. Country pubs

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Whether you’re looking for a cosy open fire to warm up with a pint of real ale, or a beautiful garden to enjoy an alfresco Pimm’s, the Cotswolds is home to plenty of country pubs that are worth scheduling a scenic stop in your itinerary.

The Maytime Inn near Burford has a delightful garden and serves up a mean Sunday roast, while The Hollow Bottom is a traditional local pub in Guiting Power that’s famed for its racing heritage.

10. Delicious local produce

If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation or want something foodie to take home with you, there’s nothing nicer than filling your basket with delicious Cotswold food and drink from the range of farm shops”: throughout the region.

Don’t miss visiting Cotswold Cheese Company, which has shops in Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold and Burford, and Upton Smokery where you can stock up on smoked meat and fish, while the farmers' markets also offer plenty of delicious produce.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, check out our Cotswold accommodation round up, featuring everything from luxurious hotels and country B&Bs, to cosy cottages and glamping sites.

By Anna Marshall

© SoGlos
Tuesday 28 March 2017

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