From the Cotswold’s chocolate-box villages to ancient woodlands in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire is home to so many popular places to visit, things to do and see – with the staycation season of 2021 attracting tourists to all parts of our incredible county.
To continue celebrating Gloucestershire Day beyond Tuesday 21 September 2021, SoGlos has teamed up with Visit Gloucestershire to showcase just why the county is such a wonderful place to visit – with everything from cultural attractions and family days out to historical sites and foodie hot spots to visit in this list of 30 unique finds which Gloucestershire plays home to.
Bringing visitor economy and leisure and tourism businesses together, Visit Gloucestershire was established in 2020 to revive local travel and tourism as the county’s Strategic Management Organisation.
Throughout September and October 2021, Visit Gloucestershire is on a mission to celebrate all things local, sharing 30 things to do, places to visit and reasons why everyone should make Gloucestershire their chosen holiday destination for years to come.
For more information, visit visit-gloucestershire.uk.
With the country’s biggest inland paddling beach, as well as the largest inflatable waterpark you’ll find in the area, there’s plenty to do at Cotswold Country Park and Beach in Shorncote – from going for a dip in the lagoon; hiring kayaks and paddleboards; to challenging friends to a Total Wipeout-style race on the Aquaventure course.
Visitors can truly get off the beaten track in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley. Children will love discovering the magic of Puzzlewood, riding steam trains and even tunnelling through caves; while adventurous types can get involved in outdoor activities like rock climbing, archery and paintball. Meanwhile, grown-ups can sample cookery classes, tour distilleries and vineyards or try a foraging experience in the ancient woodland.
Home to hundreds of buildings of special architectural or historical interest, the riverside town of Tewkesbury boasts a vibrant history. Most famously, it’s the site of an epic Wars of the Roses battle, which is commemorated at the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival each year, while the 900-year-old Tewkesbury Abbey is also a must-visit.
Every Saturday from 9am to 2pm, visitors flock to Stroud’s popular farmers’ market for the chance to pick up artisan bakes, organic farm produce, unique art pieces and much more. The award-winning fair is known for being one of the biggest and busiest farmers’ markets in the UK, so be sure to put it on your Gloucestershire bucket list.
Renowned for hosting the iconic Cheltenham Festival, anyone with a passion for horse racing will enjoy a trip to Cheltenham Racecourse, with world-class equestrian events taking place throughout the year. Not only that, visitors can experience everything from inflatable 5k courses and races to classical music concerts and comedy gigs, as well as themed Christmas extravaganzas at the Cheltenham venue.
Dating back to the seventh century, Gloucester Cathedral is a local landmark which has seen its fair share of world famous history, from hosting royal coronations and housing the tomb of a king, to starring in blockbusters like Harry Potter. With lots to see, its stunning nave, cloisters and stained-glass windows are worth the visit alone.
Located in the Cotswolds’ capital of Cirencester, the Corinium Museum is home to some fascinating finds from the town’s Roman past. Inviting visitors on a journey through time, discover civilisations from times gone by with everything from prehistoric tools, Roman mosaics and medieval sculptures waiting to be discovered.
Much more than a working farm, Over Farm near Gloucester offers a programme of family-friendly events throughout the year – from strawberry and sunflower picking to spooktacular Halloween happenings, with the chance to meet its animals, let loose on the jumping pillows, or pick up a seasonal treat from its local farm shop, too.
An ode to Cheltenham’s Regency past, Pittville Pump Room hosts regular events including its popular comedy club, classical and folk music concerts and even an artisan Christmas market. And when it’s not in use, visitors can sample the supposedly medicinal spa water that made Cheltenham famous from its fountain.
Operated entirely by volunteers, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway is a heritage railway that offers a 28-mile round trip through some of the Cotswolds’ most spectacular scenery. Visitors can hop on steam and heritage diesel trains to travel between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway for a unique experience, with a programme of seasonal events to look out for, too.
Legend has it, there are only 99 yew trees in Painswick St Mary’s churchyard because if the 100th tree were ever planted, the devil would destroy it! All planted in the early 1700s, visitors can enjoy strolling through the shrubs and exploring what was once described as the ‘grandest churchyard in England’ by historian Alec Clifton-Taylor.
With over 2,500 diverse species of trees from all over the world, including five national tree collections, Westonbirt Arboretum near Tetbury provides a sanctuary for nature lovers – as well as plenty of outdoor adventures for families, with a spectacular treetop walkway and hidden Gruffalo sculptures to discover.
During the Middle Ages, Tetbury was an important marketplace for Cotswold wool and yarn. Nowadays, it’s a must-visit with boutique shopping experiences, fantastic food and regular markets to explore – not to mention its royal connections as the home of HRH Prince Charles.
Discover a piece of Gloucestershire’s Neolithic history with a visit to Uley Long Barrow – also known as Hetty Pegler’s Tump – in Coaley. Estimated to be at least 5,000 years old with between 15 and 20 skeletons recovered from the area over the years, the partially-reconstructed Neolithic chambered burial mound is free to visit, if you’re brave enough.
Known for its rare flora and fauna, Rodborough Common is a biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest with a whole host of self-guided walks that allow visitors to wander through its limestone grassland. Keep an eye out for its famous highland cattle and don’t miss those views across the Stroud Valley and Severn estuary.
See the impressive natural wonder and sporting spectacular which draws in thousands to Gloucestershire every year, the world-famous Severn Bore. Dozens of daredevils take to the cold water with surfboards and canoes, with the largest recorded Severn Bore reaching an impressive nine feet in height.
Boar were once a very common site in the Forest of Dean but were thought to have become extinct in Britain at some time in the 14th century. This was until some escaped from a farm near Ross-on-Wye, with more being found near Staunton. As a result, boars now roam free, trotting throughout the Forest – if you look closely enough, you can see the results of their foraging for food!
Located near Cinderford, the ‘Alcatraz of the Forest of Dean’ is the self-proclaimed home to one of the world’s largest collections of crime-related memorabilia, with ‘Crime Through Time’ displayed in the historic Littledean Jail.
Follow in the footsteps of the country doctor who changed the world at Dr Jenner’s House, Museum & Gardens, giving visitors the chance to explore the fascinating world of the of the eponymous Georgian physician who carried out the world’s first controlled vaccination against smallpox in 1796.
Located near the village of Avening and comprised of two 18-hole, par 71 courses, with a clubhouse, all three courses at Minchinhampton Golf Club are renowned for their year-round immaculate presentation. The course is famous for hosting national championships, county events and more, and is the perfect place to challenge your golfing game. Fore!
Visitors to the Cotswolds are spoilt for choice with its myriad of beautiful towns and canals. Take a quiet stroll along a restored towpath, visit Bourton-on-the-Water – known as the Venice of the Cotswolds – or perhaps take part in some water-based activities like canoeing, cycling, or running; there are so many ways to enjoy this beautiful local treasure.
One of the most popular visitor attractions in the Gloucestershire, Sudeley Castle offers a truly spectacular day out in the heart of the picturesque countryside. Walk in the footsteps of some of history’s most notable characters in Sudeley Castle’s glorious gardens, join in with the busy calendar of exciting events throughout the year, and discover treasures in its fascinating exhibition. What’s more, the castle is the final resting place of Katherine Parr.
Visitors can enjoy Beatrix Potter’s charming museum and quaint shop, which has many rare items on display. As well as the Tailor’s kitchen, reconstructed from Beatrix Potter’s own drawings, and upstairs you can read the history of the original Tailor, John Prichard and view a collection of his work tools. While the volunteer-run magical experience is free for everyone to enjoy.
There are 250 acres of open countryside with viewpoints, pleasant walks, and way-marked nature trails that cover Robinswood Hill – this stunning public space makes for a great day out. The summit hosts fabulous views of the Severn Bridge to the South, the Malvern Hills to the north and the Black Mountains to the west. Spot creatures such as badgers, foxes, and birds – what’s more, there is an on-site café, picnic site, and play area for the kids.
From flamingos to otters, a world of wildlife awaits visitors at Slimbridge Wetland Centre. Get up high in the newly built hides for a bird’s eye view of the stunning wetlands, visit the Living Wetland Theatre and Waterscapes Aviary to meet some amazing wetland wildlife, or step back in time with a guided tour of Scott House Museum.
Located near Stroud and with a fascinating history, gorgeous grounds and children’s activities, Berkeley Castle is a fantastic day out for all ages. Completed in the late 12th century, history comes to life as visitors walk through Berkeley Castle’s ancient walls. Explore the tranquil gardens or brave a trip through the Kings’ Gallery and peek into the cell and dungeon where King Edward II was imprisoned.
Located in the heart of Tewkesbury, those with a passion for chocolate and coffee can enjoy Café au Chocolat, celebrating all things indulgent. The friendly, independent specialist’s café serves coffees, teas, milkshakes, light lunches, and cakes alongside a range of deliciously rich chocolate treats. Dogs are welcome, too.
The historically important Gloucester Docks is a popular destination where visitors can enjoy harbour views, shopping, and food and drink, while exploring a stunning example of a Victorian port. With brilliantly restored and maintained warehouses and shipyards, Gloucester Brewery, the National Waterways Museum and modern shopping centre, Gloucester Quays, this is a true county gem.
Situated in Tetbury, the Royal Gardens at Highgrove is the private residence of HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. Highgrove Gardens are available to enjoy as part of an individual or group tour, with the chance to explore the Highgrove Estate Shop and browse a range of artisan products. What’s more, guests can also enjoy Champagne tea tours at selected times throughout the year.
The Memsahib Gin & Tea Bar is the first of its kind. Inspired by the British Raj period, Memsahib craft their own gin and have developed 16 different recipes, infusing them with the rarest teas and botanicals. They also have a wide selection of 66 gins and an array of teas, with a brilliant selection of unique flavour combinations to surprise and delight guests – all in its stylish setting.
For more information, visit visit-gloucestershire.uk.
By Annabel Lammas and Zoe Gater
Tuesday 21 September 2021
Whether you’re a lover of authentic Spanish cuisine or fancy trying tapas with a twist, discover 11 places to tuck in to tapas...
From de-cluttering and heating, to mood lighting and freshly brewed coffee, SoGlos shares 10 simple tips and tricks to help...
If you’re celebrating with a festive family feast or a romantic yuletide date, SoGlos has you covered with 10 places to dine...
Enjoy a terrifyingly fun family daytrip this Halloween half term, with SoGlos handpicking some of the spookiest places that...
With everything from orthopaedic services to men’s and women’s health, Nuffield Health Cheltenham reveals some important reasons...