Make the most of Summer in the Cotswolds!

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

There's more to the Cotswolds than rolling pastures, chocolate-box villages and the famous honey-coloured stone. Ian White goes exploring

Why go here?

The image of the Cotswolds as a land of soft, rolling green pastures populated by timelessly twee cottages is not inaccurate but it is drawn principally from just one area, the north-central region, which is home to the beautiful villages of Chipping Campden, Broadway, Moreton-in-Marsh, Chipping Norton and Stow-on-the-Wold.

In fact, the Cotswolds is England's largest designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, stretching 102 miles along the steep Cotswold escarpment from Chipping Campden in the north to Bath in the south, Cheltenham and Gloucester to the west and Woodstock to the east. It even has its own lake district in the form of the Cotswold Water Park (, which covers 40 square miles, with 147 lakes and even a (man-made) beach. Indeed, the Cotswolds isn't just about thatched cottages.

The history trail

Start your exploration at Belas Knap (, England's best example of a Neolithic long barrow, dating from 3,000BC. It's just outside Winchcombe, as is medieval Sudeley Castle (, where Katherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, is buried. From Winchcombe, head south to the Corinium Museum (coriniummuseum.cotswold in Cirencester for interactive displays of the town as it was in Roman times. It's then a short journey to Chedworth Roman Villa (, with its mosaics, central heating and bathhouses, all set in one of the loveliest valleys in the Cotswolds. A fitting place to end is the Roman Baths (, in Bath, which has now installed improved access and livened up its presentations. Or take a trip to Woodstock (the Cotswolds' most easterly point) to visit Blenheim Palace (, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, and notable for its glorious park which was designed by Capability Brown.

The inside attractions

In Bath, the American Museum (american is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special exhibition called Marilyn – Hollywood Icon, which features 20 of the screen legend's gowns and outfits. Meanwhile, the Holburne Museum (, complete with new glass extension, is exhibiting a private collection from the Pop Art pioneer Peter Blake, which includes cut-out faces used for the cover of The Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In Stroud, the Museum in the Park (museumin occupies two floors of a 17th-century mansion in Stratford Park and captures the imagination with colourful displays of the area's links with the cloth industry. It's currently hosting textile artist Kate Plumtree's exhibition of costumes inspired by British wildlife. Check out the special holiday workshops for children.

The retail therapy

Bath and Cheltenham are the two main centres for big stores and smaller independent shops, but Prince Charles's stomping ground, Tetbury (, is the place for antiques. Despite a few closing over the past year or two, Tetbury still has about 20 antiques shops to explore. Most of them are on Long Street, as is the Highgrove Shop (, where you can buy products sourced from the Duchy Home Farm or selected by the Prince personally. Stow-on-the-Wold is good for little independent shops, including Maby's deli and Scotts of Stow. Earthier purchases can be sourced at the farmers' market held in Stroud every Saturday from 9am to 2pm ( It's one of the busiest in the UK.

The great outdoors

The biggest and best walks can be found along the Cotswold Way ( /Cotswold), which, for the most part, runs across the top of the Cotswold escarpment. The route passes through picturesque villages, including Broadway, Stanton and Winchcombe, while a dramatic drop to the west provides spectacular views over the Severn Vale. Bird lovers should head for Slimbridge Wetland Centre (, which has just added a large aviary called Wader Shore for wading birds including avocets and redshanks. Tree huggers will love Westonbirt Arboretum (, where you can wander among some of the oldest and rarest trees in the world. And, if you've got children in tow, visit the Cotswold Wildlife Park (, where you can see more than 250 different species of mammals, insects and birds.

The places to eat and drink

The area is awash with fine restaurants and cosy pubs, but the Ebrington Arms (, just outside Chipping Campden, is hard to beat on all fronts. In April, this unspoilt 17th-century inn was voted North Cotswolds Pub of the Year by the Campaign for Real Ale. Its classic dishes, sourced locally, have earned head chef James Nixon an AA rosette and its three rooms have been awarded four AA stars. For a rich Regency experience with a contemporary twist, go to the Montpellier Chapter Hotel (themontpellierchapter, in Cheltenham, which opened a few months ago to rave reviews. Offering more Regency charm and with great grub is Jamie's Italian (, which has been packed since it opened just a few weeks ago.

Compact Facts

How to get there

First Great Western trains run from London Paddington to Oxford every 55 minutes and to Bath every hour. Contact National Rail (0845 748 4950;

Further information

Check out the website of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk