Stroud and its surrounding areas are known for their outstanding natural beauty and environmentally-friendly lifestyle, but there’s plenty more in the district to explore, from independent fashion boutiques to fantastic foodie destinations.
In this hot list, SoGlos highlights 8 charming towns and villages in the area – and the places to make a beeline for when you visit.
From its famous farmers’ market every Saturday to its diverse range of independent shops, restaurants and cafés, not to mention popular arts venue The Sub Rooms, it’s easy to see why Stroud is such a popular place. Vintage enthusiasts will love browsing fashion boutiques like Strangeness & Charm and Time After Time or poring over vinyls at Sound Records.
SGGLA Independent Shop of the Year, Made In Stroud offers a treasure trove of handmade arts and crafts, gifts, food, drink and cosmetics, all made by local artisans; fashion boutique Madia and Matilda offers sustainable fashion made from upcycled materials; while Five Valleys shopping centre is home to Sandersons department store and the unique Five Valleys food market.
Foodies are utterly spoiled for choice in the town too, with independent restaurants serving up everything from handmade pizza at Crust Issues to authentic Venezuelan cuisine at Galgos Latino, fresh fish and chips to take away at Simpsons, wholesome organic food at Woodruffs Organic Café and coffee and cake at cute café Loganberry. There’s even adorable retro sweet shop, Confection Affection, and an artisan bakery, too.
Boasting a medieval castle literally just a few steps from the high street, Berkeley is a wonderful place to visit, especially for families. As well as Berkeley Castle and its spectacular grounds, you can visit the former home of the inventor of vaccines at Dr Jenner’s House, before stopping off for tea and cake at the traditional Berkeley Tea Rooms.
Meanwhile art enthusiasts won’t want to miss popping into From Home, which showcases work by artists and makers within 20 miles of the shop, and Tomato Jack Arts, which specialises in handcrafted contemporary mosaics – to pick up a unique reminder of your visit.
The quaint Cotswold town of Nailsworth is brimming with lovely independent shops, with everything from houseplants galore at Junglist Atelier, designer jewellery at Armed and Gorgeous, vintage treasures and unique homewares at Domestic Science to an extensive collection of fiction and non-fiction titles at the Yellow-Lighted Bookshop.
For foodies, there’s luxury fishmongers and deli, William’s, artisan bread makers Hobbs House Bakery, The Canteen, dishing up delicious brunches, coffees and cakes; and for a truly luxurious experience, there’s Wilder, which offers a surprise eight-course tasting menu each night, made from the very best local and seasonal produce.
Stonehouse is a bit of a hidden gem for food lovers, with Italian restaurant La Campagna boasting an enviable reputation with locals and Court Brasserie at Stonehouse Court Hotel offering stylish British dishes and afternoon tea in luxurious surroundings – with a terrace offering glorious views over the Cotswold countryside when the weather is good, too.
For a more casual affair, Wynn’s Coffee Co serves brunch, coffee and cakes and is dog-friendly; and Wholehearted offers wholesome food including gourmet baguettes, jacket potatoes and homemade pasties and cakes. Stonehouse Milk even has a vending machine, dispensing fresh milk from its herd of local cows.
While for crafty types, Sourced in Stonehouse offers craft market vibes, with a selection of local crafters selling their wares, from handmade jewellery, clothing and accessories to original arts and crafts – as well as a range of Frenchic paints, brushes and waxes, ideal for upcyclers.
Whether you’re a keen gardener, horticultural enthusiast or just enjoy the great outdoors, no trip to Painswick would be complete without a visit to the colourful Painwick Rococo Garden, where visitors can admire an abundance of flowers all year round, with snowdrops in winter, daffodils in spring and heritage roses in summer.
If you’re picking up some plants to take home while you’re there, you can find the perfect pot to put them in at Potanicals within Painswick Fabrics; while Painswick Fabrics itself offers an eclectic selection of designer fabrics at discounted prices – with customers even coming from as far as London to browse its range!
Handmade in Painswick is a must-visit, too, with the quirky arts café serving delicious coffee and cakes, alongside selling a range of arts, crafts and gifts from Cotswold soap and candles to homewares and handmade toys, all created by local makers.
As well as offering breath-taking views from the top of Wotton Hill, the market town of Wotton-under-Edge is full of independent shops – including a number of unique retailers like traditional printers Cotswold Letterpress, upcycling and antique specialist Fifis Fancy Furniture, art gallery Fish Out Of Water and independent cookshop Cookability.
Wine buffs will love indulging in tapas and wine tasting at The Wine Shack at No. 7, carnivores can enjoy getting their teeth into some of the finest local beef, reared on a family farm less than 10 miles from the restaurant, at The Falcon Steakhouse, and adventurous foodies can snap up a table at Good Food On The Edge every Saturday night, to enjoy a three-course meal of locally sourced produce from its weekly-changing menu.
While it’s famous for its proximity to beauty spot Stinchcombe Hill on the Cotswold Way, Dursley offers much more than just lovely walks – with its high street being home to a collection of unique independent shops.
Describing itself as ‘the biggest little guitar shop in the south west’, Intersound Guitars is a music lovers dream; crafters will love Cutters Den, which offers laser cut DIY woodcraft kits, and Inches fabric store is ideal for dressmakers and sewing fans.
For somewhere to eat, The Old Spot Inn at the foot of Stinchcombe Hill provides a traditional taste of the Cotswolds and a perfect place to rest weary legs if you’ve been walking, with real ales, ‘doorstep’ sandwiches and classic pub grub on the menu; while Bank Café is an ideal spot for brunch, coffee and cake – with both establishments taking pride in serving handmade food using local produce.
As well as a fabulous farmers’ market every Thursday, Henry’s Coffee House and Dairy in Minchinhampton serves some of the Cotswolds’ finest produce all week long. The shop and café stocks Henry’s own range of nine organic cheeses, milk, cream, handmade butter and yoghurt, all made locally from its herd of Dairy Shorthorn cows, as well as bread, pizza and coffee from the Cotswolds.
A firm favourite with locals, The Kitchen Café serves up the prettiest afternoon teas; traditional Cotswold pub The Crown Inn boasts a beautiful beer garden and seasonal food menu; while visitors with a sweet tooth can pick up a cone of Cotswold ice cream from the famous Winstones, nestled on the edge of Rodborough Common on the way to Stroud.
For fashion-lovers, women’s boutique Stafford Cottage offers an expertly curated selection of clothing, jewellery and accessories; while for brides-to-be, Minchinhampton is also home to The White Room – the bridal store which helped to create Zara Tindall’s couture wedding gown – so it’s well worth the trip!