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101 Reasons to Love the Cotswolds

Our 101 features, presented in no particular order, include a vibrant mix of everything from much-loved places in the Cotswolds to popular events, pastimes and traditions. We hope everybody will find among them plenty of reasons to inform, entertain and amuse themselves. Although we are pretty sure we have included many reasons to love the Cotswolds that many 'locals' you would also come up with, we don't claim to have produced the definitive list. Indeed, we're pretty sure we will have missed out a number of people's favourite reasons to love the Cotswolds. We would welcome your input on this and may in the future produce a list of "Top 10 Reasons that got away" based on your feedback. Please contact us at david@lovingthecotswolds.com

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1. The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The Cotswolds is one of the most beautiful areas of England, known and loved by people across the world. With its Cotswold stone walls and buildings, open skies, rolling grasslands, beech woods and captivating towns and villages, the Cotswolds is a landscape once experienced, never forgotten. 'Wold' is Old English for 'upland common' and for centuries the rolling Cotswold Hills have been used for sheep and arable farming. At one time the Cotswolds was populated by half a million sheep and the wool trade with Europe was significant with Flemish weavers brought to England…
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2. Cotswold stone
The single most thing that gives the Cotswolds its distinctive character is the Jurassic oolitic limestone that lies beneath the land. The limestone, in all its various shades, is much prized as a building stone and is used extensively in buildings, towns, villages and dry stone walls throughout the Cotswolds, generating a feeling of unity between the natural and built environment.  Stone has been quarried in the Cotswolds for centuries and for a variety of uses - everything from small farm buildings to the magnificent wool churches. Its texture enabled stone masons to produce interesting…
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3. Farming in the Cotswolds
Farming has always been a crucial part of life in the Cotswolds, although farming and production methods have changed hugely over time as new machinery and technology has been introduced.  Agricultural land in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) comprises 176,393 hectares (approximately 435,690 acres), which equates to 86% of all land within the AONB. A 2007 survey revealed that there were a total of 3,434 farm holdings in the Cotswolds AONB with an average size of 51.4 hectares (127 acres).  However, the actual number of farm businesses is considerably lower…
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4. Royal Cotswolds
Several members of the Royal Family live in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, including Prince Charles at Highgrove House, near Tetbury, and the Princess Royal at Gatcombe Park, near Minchinhampton. Highgrove, the Cotswold home of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, is famous for its beautiful gardens which can be visited by the public by booking well in advance. The Highgrove Garden is normally open from April until October and tours take place on weekdays only. Six miles north of Highgrove is Gatcombe Park, the private country home…
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5. Shin-kicking and the Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpicks
Shin-kicking is a combat sport that involves two contestants attempting to kick each other on the shin to force their opponent to the ground. It's arguably the biggest attraction at the Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpicks, held annually in the early summer at Dover's Hill, just outside Chipping Campden, which draws thousands of spectators. Shin-kicking originated in England in the early 17th Century and has been described as an English martial art. It was included in the 1951 revival of the Cotswold Olimpicks, which now features the World…
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6. Laurie Lee, "Cider with Rosie" and the Laurie Lee Wood
Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee's 1959 autobiographical novel which describes his childhood in the village of Slad, near Stroud, has brought the Cotswolds to the attention of a global audience. The novel wonderfully chronicles life in a traditional Gloucestershire village in the period soon after the First World War, which disappeared with the advent of new developments, such as the coming of the motor car. Laurie Lee's book, which as sold over six million copies worldwide, relates the experiences of his childhood seen from many years later…
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7. The Cotswold Hills Geopark
The beauty of the Cotswolds is more than just skin deep. It’s the geology beneath the rolling hills and pretty villages that makes this much-loved corner of England the unique place it is today. And put quite simply in the words of Mark Campbell, chairman of the Gloucestershire Geology Trust: "The reason we have the Cotswolds Hills is 100% down to the geology."  In fact, the geology of the Cotswolds is so special that a swathe of land 60 miles long has been designated as the 'Cotswold Hills…
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8. Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens
Set in 160 acres of landscaped parkland and gardens two miles south of Burford, the Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens exhibits over 260 different species of animals and is the largest privately owned zoological collection in the UK (by species). A day out at the park provides a memorable experience for the whole family with rare and endangered animals such as lions, giraffes and camels on show. Visitors can walk through the Madagascar enclosure with free-roaming lemurs and see meerkats, penguins and tropical birds in the exotically…
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9. Cotswold Lion sheep
Although the Cotswold Lion is "only" a breed of sheep, it is actually one of the main reasons people visit the Cotswolds, even though they may not know it. The Cotswolds' flourishing wool trade during the Medieval period created the wealth that shaped so many of the area's beautiful market towns and villages, a beauty that is still very much in evidence today. As Adam Henson, the Cotswolds' "celebrity farmer", has said: "The riches the Cotswold wool brought to the region helped build the great houses and churches…
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10. The Cotswold Way National Trail
The Cotswold Way is a 102-mile (164 km) long distance walking National Trail which runs between the beautiful market town of Chipping Campden in the north and the World Heritage City of Bath in the south. The Cotswolds as a whole is renowned for its wonderful walks, providing walkers from all over the world with some wonderful places to enjoy their passion, but the Cotswold Way is undoubtedly the most famous and popular trail in the area. Running for most of its length on the Cotswold escarpment, the Cotswold Way passes through many…
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11. Horse Racing & the Cheltenham Gold Cup
Each March, tens of thousands of horse racing fans flock to the Cotswolds for the Cheltenham Festival. Four days of anticipation, atmosphere and action are played out on a beautiful sporting arena, climaxing with the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Cotswold Hills form a stunning backdrop to Cheltenham Racecourse and within those hills is undoubtedly the greatest concentration of racehorse training establishments in the country. The Cotswolds is home to well over 20 racehorse trainers, not least the Irishman Jonjo O'Neill, a two-time Champion Jockey who is now…
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12. The Arts and Crafts Movement and Court Barn Museum, Chipping Campden
Court Barn Museum, which opened in Chipping Campden in 2007, tells the story of the world famous Arts and Crafts Movement and its legacy and how this small Cotswold town became a gathering place for designers and craftspeople of national and international repute. The Arts and Crafts Movement emphasised the importance of creative manual work and the breakdown of the barrier between designer and maker, looking for inspiration to the English countryside. William Morris, one of the Arts and Crafts Movement's leaders, was greatly influenced by the…
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13. Cotswold Market Halls
Several prominent towns in the Cotswolds are fortunate to have as their centrepiece iconic Market Halls which are steeped in history. One of these can be found in the centre Tetbury where the three-storey Market Hall is an attractively restored pillared building dating back to 1655. Over the years it has seen service as a market place, fire station, and gaol. The cupola on top was added to mark Queen Victoria's Jubilee, but apart from that the Market Hall is much as it would have been over…
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14. Corinium Museum, Cirencester
This award-winning museum not only enables visitors to explore the history and treasures of the Cotswolds but it is home to one of the largest collections of Romano-British antiquities  from Corinium, Roman Britain's second largest city, now known as Cirencester. An inspiring and interactive experience for everyone, the museum features the work of Prehistoric metal smiths, Roman mosaics, Anglo Saxons and their buried treasures, Medieval sculpture, Civil War coin hoards and the elegance of Victorian Cirencester. These collections are of the highest heritage merit and are…
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15. Broadway Tower
Broadway Tower is one of England's outstanding viewpoints and at 1,024 feet (312m) above sea level, it is the second highest point on the Cotswold escarpment after Cleeve Hill. It offers breathtaking views of as many as 16 counties, encompassing the vast expanse from the peaks of the Welsh mountains to High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. The "Saxon" tower, which stands 65 feet high, was the brainchild of Capability Brown and designed by James Wyatt in 1794 in the form of a castle and built for Lady Coventry…
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16. Arlington Row, Bibury
The picturesque group of cottages on Arlington Row in the beautiful village of Bibury is without doubt one of the most photographed Cotswold scenes. It is probably also now the most depicted village in the world because since 2010, a picture of the former weavers' cottages in Arlington Row has appeared on the inside cover of all newly-issued UK passports. Situated about seven miles from Cirencester, Bibury was described by the 19th Century artist and craftsman William Morris as "the most beautiful village in England" when he…
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17. Moreton-in-Marsh Show
Held on the first Saturday in September, the Moreton-in-Marsh Show is one of the largest one-day agricultural shows in the UK, attracting over 20,000 visitors from far and wide each year. With all the charm of a traditional country show, Moreton Show really does offer something for everyone. Competitions are held for horses, cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, dogs, crafts, flowers and even scarecrows. There are also over 300 trade stands selling everything from farm equipment and gardening gear to designer clothes and toys, as well as a…
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18. The Rollright Stones
This ancient Neolithic stone circle is located near the north Cotswold village of Long Compton on the borders of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. The Rollright Stones, which span nearly 2,000 years of development, consist of three groups: the King's Men stone circle; the Whispering Knights burial chamber; and the single King Stone. Stories grew up around the stones, telling of how they had once been a king and his knights who had been turned to stone by a witch. Such stories continued to be taught amongst local people well into…
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19. The Model Village, Bourton-on-the-Water
The Model Village is a one-ninth scale replica of the heart of Bourton-on-the-Water, containing all the buildings from the Old Water Mill (now the Motor Museum) down to the Old New Inn and the ford. Located in Rissington Road, the Model Village was created by a previous landlord of the Old New Inn. It took local craftsmen five years to build and was officially opened on the Coronation Day of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the late Queen Mother) in 1937. The Model Village also includes a running…
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20. Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham
Pittville Pump Room is the jewel of Cheltenham’s Regency architecture and is the grandest survival of the town’s many spa buildings. Built in 1830, elegant Grade I listed building is surrounded on three sides by majestic columns. Overlooking the sweeping lawns and lakes of Pittville Park, the Pump Room is a monument to the more than 100 years of fame Cheltenham enjoyed as a Spa town. It is now Cheltenham’s most spectacular private hire venue and regularly hosts weddings, parties and corporate hospitality. When not in use, visitors can…
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21. Sudeley Castle & Gardens, Winchcombe
Set against the backdrop of the Cotswold Hills, Sudeley Castle is steeped in history, with royal connections spanning 1,000 years. The castle, just outside Winchcombe, was once home to Queen Katherine Parr - the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII - who lies entombed in St Mary's Church in the castle grounds. King Charles I found refuge here during the English Civil War when his nephew Prince Rupert established headquarters at Sudeley Castle. Following its ‘slighting’ on Oliver Cromwell’s orders at the end of the Civil…
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22. Two Amazing Arboreta - Westonbirt, the National Arboretum, and Batsford Arboretum
As if the Cotswolds landscape isn't beautiful enough to attract visitors from all over the world, the area is also home to two wonderful arboreta. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, is located three miles from the market town of Tetbury in the south Cotswolds. The historic, Victorian picturesque landscape and internationally important tree and shrub collection is managed by the Forestry Commission and supported by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum.   The 14,902 labelled trees (representing about 2,500 different types of tree) come from Britain, China, North America, Japan,…
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23. Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) is often known as the "Friendly line in the Cotswolds" – and not without reason. The GWR is a professional operating railway almost entirely run by volunteers who are from all walks of live and who are passionate about what they do. The track runs along part of the former Great Western Railway's mainline from Birmingham to Cheltenham. Primarily built in the 1900s, the line closed to local passenger traffic in 1960 but remained in use for goods services until 1976. The Gloucestershire…
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24. Cotswold Water Park... and the UK's largest inland beach
Just a few miles from Cirencester, the Cotswold Water Park is an incredible leisure resource that was born out of gravel extraction which began half a century ago. But the Cotswold Water Park is not what many people might imagine it to be, as there are no water slides, log flumes or the like. It is, in fact, a collection of 150 lakes and wetlands, covering 40 square miles, making it one of the UK's largest nature reserves with many previously "lost" species being successfully reintroduced…
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25. Birdland Park & Gardens (and its colony of king penguins)
Set on the River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water, Cotswold Birdland Park & Gardens is home to over 120 species of birds from all around the world. But the park's star attraction is without doubt its group of king penguins, the only such group in England. Founded in 1957, Birdland was one of the UK's original bird gardens, providing home to weird and wonderful species of birds from all over the world, including parrots, owls, flamingos and birds of prey. But it is the king penguins who take centre stage…
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26. Wool churches of the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds was an important centre for the medieval wool trade and some of the churches built during this time and sponsored by successful wool merchants of the Cotswolds, and referred to now as “wool churches”. The wool churches directly mirror the profitable nature of the medieval wool trade in the elaborate nature of their designs, with many of them more like mini-cathedrals, complete with carvings, stained-glass, and interior funeral monuments. Indeed, St John the Baptist, Cirencester, is often called the "Cathedral of the Cotswolds" and is…
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27. Giffords Circus
Nell and Toti Gifford started Giffords Circus in 2000 and over the past 14 years their touring circus has amassed a loyal following in the Cotswolds and beyond, performing to over 250,000 people. The Giffords' vision was of a miniature village green circus and their unique blend of bohemian artisan entertainment combines dance, comedy, acrobatics, juggling, live music and farmyard animals. Their signature burgundy and gold showman’s wagons and billowing tent have become a summer staple in village greens and market towns throughout the Cotswolds, where most…
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28. Chedworth Roman Villa
Situated in the heart of the Cotswolds, Chedworth is one of the largest Roman villas in Britain. The villa was accidentally discovered in June 1864 by two men working on the Stowell Park Estate who were ferreting for rabbits in the woods when their ferret got stuck down a hole. As they dug the ferret out they revealed a small patch of mosaic pavement. Realising the significance of the find they reported it and it came to the attention of the young landowner – 19-year-old Lord Eldon.…
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29. Adam Henson's Cotswold Farm Park
The Cotswold Farm Park can claim to have a rare breed for just about every week of the year. Situated in open north Cotswold countryside, near Guiting Power, the Cotswold Farm Park has come a long way since it was opened in 1971 by Joe Henson, a farmer with a passion for rare breed conservation. Now open to the public for 10 months of the year, the farm park is home to more than 50 breeds - from Gloucester cattle to Guernsey goats, Cotswold sheep to crested ducks…
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30. Chastleton House - "the birthplace of croquet"
A rare Jacobean gem, Chastleton House, near Moreton-in-Marsh, remained almost unchanged for nearly 400 years and is now a fragile time capsule from another age. Chastleton House was built between 1607 and 1612 for Walter Jones, a prosperous wool merchant, as an impressive statement of wealth and power. The house was built of Cotswold stone round a small courtyard called the Dairy Court. The gardens have much to interest visitors as well. The middle terraces are the site of two croquet lawns, originally laid out by Walter Whitmore-Jones in…
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31. Cotswold Falconry Centre
Started in 1988, Cotswold Falconry houses about 150 birds of prey at its base at its base at Batsford Park, near Moreton-in-Marsh.   More than 30 different separate species have been bred in the centre's successful, but non-commercial, breeding aviaries. The aim of the centre is to promote the greater understanding of birds of prey through education and fun and many of its birds can be seen during the free flying demonstrations. Cotswold Falconry Centre attracts more than 20,000 visitors each year who are also encouraged to follow the path…
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32. The Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford
Few events can rival the intensity, drama and spectacle on offer at the Royal International Air Tattoo - the world's greatest airshow which takes place in the Cotswolds at RAF Fairford each summer. Alongside the thrilling flying action involving more than 200 aircraft each year, around 140,000 visitors are treated to non-stop entertainment on the ground. With support from the Royal Air Force and some of the world's leading aerospace companies, the Air Tattoo is acknowledged as not only the world's largest military airshow but also one…
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33. The Fabulous Baker Brothers
Cotswold-based brothers Tom (the baker) and Henry (the butcher) Herbert are the new faces of British cookery and are continuing to win legions of television fans at home and abroad. The Herbert brothers came to prominence through two books and their hit Channel 4 series The Fabulous Baker Brothers, a show that also won them the chance to make a two-part food and travelogue show in the US. Their family business, Hobbs House Bakery, has shops in four towns in the south of the Cotswolds - at…
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34. The Old Prison, Northleach
The Old Prison is a fascinating 18th Century building in the Cotswold market town of Northleach and a historic visitor attraction. A visit to the Old Prison offers you a unique glimpse into life in the Northleach House of Correction, one of four houses of correction in Gloucestershire. Built in the 1790s, this was once a fine example of a model prison used to inspire better care and rehabilitation of prisoners throughout Britain and further afield. It even served as a blueprint for London's Pentonville Prison. The keeper's…
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35. Kelmscott Manor
This Grade I listed farmhouse on the edge of the village of Kelmscott, near Lechlade, was built around 1600 next to the River Thames. Built of local limestone, between 1871 and 1896 it was the summer home of William Morris, the English artist, writer, textile designer and socialist. Morris signed a joint lease with the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the summer of 1871. Morris loved the house as a work of true craftsmanship, totally unspoilt and unaltered, and in harmony with the village and the surrounding countryside.…
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36. Painswick Rococo Garden
Situated outside the beautiful Cotswold town of Painswick, and famous for its snowdrop display, the Rococo Garden is a fascinating step back to a flamboyant and sensual period of English garden design, when gardens were almost theatrical sets used as a backdrop to decadent garden parties. This gem of a garden of more than six acres, which was originally laid out in the early 18th Century, is set in a hidden Cotswold valley with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. Painswick House was built in the mid-1730s…
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37. Slimbridge Wetland Centre
Slimbridge is a wetland reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) near Slimbridge in Gloucestershire on the estuary of the River Severn. Opened in 1946 by the artist and naturalist Sir Peter Scott, Slimbridge was the first WWT reserve to be opened. The Sloane Observation Tower gives far-reaching views to the Cotswold escarpment in the east and the River Severn and Forest of Dean in the west. The centre has a shop, restaurant, art gallery and Tropical House. The site is 120 acres of reserve, of…
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38. Morris Dancing in the Cotswolds
The sight of a group of men dressed in costume wearing hats adorned with flowers and ribbons, with garters around the legs with bells attached dancing to music with handkerchiefs or sticks might be rather an unusual one for many visitors to the Cotswolds. But to local people, Morris dancing is just a part of everyday life, as the Cotswolds is a popular centre for this peculiarly English tradition which dates back centuries. Very little is known about the origins of Morris dancing, but as a ritual…
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39. The Big Feastival, Kingham
For the past few years, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and rock star Alex James have joined forces to present The Big Feastival, a weekend celebration of music, food and fun for all the family in the Cotswolds. Alex James, the Blur guitarist-turned-Cotswold-cheesemaker, has opened up his farm near Kingham for the late summer extravaganza. The Big Feastival is a unique celebration of food and music with demos from top chefs, local produce stalls and pop-up restaurants. The 2014 festival was heralded the best yet, following performances from the…
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40. Hidcote Manor Garden & Kiftsgate Court Gardens, near Chipping Campden
Two distinct gardens just a few hundred yards from each other attract thousands of garden lovers to the north Cotswolds each year. Hidcote Manor Garden, located in the tiny village of Hidcote Bartrim, near Chipping Campden, is one of England’s great Arts and Crafts gardens. Created by the American horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston in 1907, Hidcote is famous for its rare trees and shrubs, outstanding herbaceous borders and unusual plants from all over the world. In 1947 Johnston entrusted Hidcote to the National Trust and the garden welcomed…
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41. River Football at Bourton-on-the-Water
On August Bank Holiday Monday each year at 4pm, one of the Cotswolds' most quirky and iconic events, which attracts media attention at home and abroad, takes place in the centre of Bourton-on-the-Water. The usually calm River Windrush, which is six to 10 inches deep, is invaded by two teams of players from Bourton Rovers Football Club battling it out for victory in the annual Football in the River match.  The traditional match dates back more than 100 years and attracts hundreds, if not thousands, of spectators…
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42. Tetbury Woolsack Races
The Cotswold town of Tetbury celebrates its wool heritage each May with a gruelling event that date back hundreds of years. The Tetbury Woolsack Races is traditionally held on the Whitsun, now the Spring Bank Holiday Monday at the end of May. The event sees runners carrying sacks of wool up Gumstoll Hill, an extremely steep street in the centre of Tetbury, watched by hundreds of spectators. Many of the competitors come from local rugby teams or the British Army. The woolsacks are 60lb for men’s races and…
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43. Cotswold Motoring Museum, Bourton-on-the-Water
Located in the picturesque village of Bourton-on-the-Water, the Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection provides a truly fascinating journey through the 20th Century. The museum is overflowing with vintage car collections, classic cars and motorcycles, caravans, original enamel signs and an intriguing collection of motoring curiosities. The bulk of the collection dates from the period between 1920 and 1950, with a particular focus on the 1930s, although in recent years the collection has been expanded to encompass the 1960s and 1970s. The museum owns 36 cars dating from…
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44. Cirencester Roman Amphitheatre
The Cirencester Amphitheatre is one of the largest known examples surviving from the Roman occupation of Britain. Estimated to have had a capacity of about 8,000 people, it was built just outside the walls of the town (then known as Corinium) early in the 2nd Century AD. Cirencester was second only to London in size at this period, with a population of over 10,000, and was at its finest just as Roman rule was collapsing throughout the Western Empire. In AD 408, the last contingents of the regular…
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45. Polo in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is a major centre for polo in the UK, the oldest ball game in the world, and is home to several of the country's top clubs which regularly attract members of the Royal Family to their ranks. The first polo match played in this country was in 1871 between the 9th Lancers and 10th Hussars and one of the players in this match, Captain Frank Henry, started the Beaufort Polo Club, near Malmesbury, in 1872. After the club had lapsed for many years, in 1977…
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46. The Pudding Club
The Pudding Club was launched at The Three Ways House Hotel in Mickleton, near Chipping Campden, in 1985 with a mission to preserve the Great British Pudding. Since then it has become something of a Cotswold institution, featuring on TV and radio and in numerous newspaper and magazine articles. Every Friday evening, visitors from home and abroad descend on The Three Ways Hotel, situated in the pretty north Cotswold village of Mickleton, to experience this slightly eccentric institution. After a choice of three modest main courses, the main…
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47. Woodchester Mansion
This 19th Century Victorian Gothic masterpiece, situated five miles south of Stroud, was mysteriously abandoned mid-construction in 1873. Hidden in a secluded Cotswold valley, it is untouched by time and the modern world. The Grade 1 Listed building has been saved from dereliction, but will never be completed. Visitors to Woodchester Mansion walk through an extraordinary architectural exhibit and its carvings are among the finest of their kind in the world. The mansion, which is home to two colonies of rare bats, has featured in a number of…
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48. Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace, just outside Woodstock, is a true masterpiece of 18th Century baroque architecture and, as a World Heritage Site, it is high on the list of places to visit in the Cotswolds. Home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim boasts more than 2,000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown parkland and formal gardens and a magnificent lake. Blenheim Palace was built to celebrate the victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession. In particular, it…
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49. Aunt Sally
Aunt Sally is a throwing game dating back hundreds of years that is played in British pubs and fairgrounds with a long tradition in the Cotswolds.  Even former British Prime Minister David Cameron tried his hand at the game during a visit to the first Aunt Sally World Championships held at a beer festival in the Cotswolds a few years ago. Aunt Sally is played primarily at pubs in a clutch of English counties, including Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. Pubs from across the north Cotswolds enter teams in the…
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50. Cricket in the Cotswolds
Village cricket is the epitome of English country life - and nowhere more so than in the Cotswolds. Apart from boasting dozens of beautiful village cricket grounds, the Cotswolds also has some interesting cricketing claims to fame, both vintage and modern. Peter Pan author J M Barrie, who was a huge cricket lover but whose writing ability far outweighed his cricketing talent, has some fascinating cricketing connections with the Cotswolds. Between 1890 and 1913, Barrie was the driving force behind an amateur cricket team made up of players…
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51. Cornbury Music Festival
This eclectic and eccentric musical carnival nicknamed "Poshtock" takes place over a three-day July weekend on the Great Tew Estate in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. With a mixture of local acts and national treasures, the Cornbury Music Festival is a lovingly crafted, top notch, very English open air party, tailor made for the whole family. The festival has been described as "a country fair with a rock ‘n’ roll twist". One minute you'll see global superstars performing on the main stage and the next you'll turn round to…
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52. Daylesford Farmshop - "the Harvey Nichols of the Cotswolds"
Daylesford - the iconic farmshop near Kingham - has been dubbed "the Harvey Nichols of the Cotswolds". It was founded in 2002 by Carole Bamford with a simple passion for real food. Vegetables, fruit and herbs are picked each morning from the market garden and travel just a few yards into the shop and to chefs in the award-winning cafe. Next door is the dairy and creamery and farm kitchens, while farm animals roam freely on the surrounding organic pastures. Daylesford’s food comes straight from their farm to…
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53. Berkeley Castle
Berkeley Castle is one of the most remarkable buildings in Britain and has been home to the same family - the Berkeleys - for 850 years. Situated to the south of the Cotswolds, the castle is believed to be the scene of the murder of King Edward II in 1327. But despite nine centuries of often turbulent British history, the castle, the Berkeley family, the archives (which go back to the 12th Century), the contents, the estate and the town have all survived. In fact, the castle is…
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54. Cotswold Lavender, Snowshill
A third generation family farm on the outskirts of a small Cotswold village has become a mecca for lavender lovers. Hill Barn Farm at Snowshill, overlooking Broadway and the Vale of Evesham, is home to some 70 miles of rows and 250,000 lavender plants. Lavender was first planted at the farm in the year 2000 in fields previously used to grow wheat and barley. The lavender loves the free-draining limestone soils 1,000 feet above sea level giving the best growing conditions for the highest quality lavender. The crops are…
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55. Cotswolds Conservation Board
The Cotswolds Conservation Board is the organisation that exists to conserve and enhance the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Established in 2004, the board is the only organisation to look after the AONB as a whole and is a statutory body created as a result of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW) 2000.   The act allowed for the creation of boards to oversee large AONBs that overstep county boundaries and cannot easily be hosted by one local authority. The board is made up…
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56. The Randwick Wap
A series of springtime events in the village of Randwick, near Stroud, culminates in the Randwick Wap, a revived ancient festival that includes a costumed procession, the 'Mayor' getting dunked in the village pond, and a ceremonial cheese-rolling. The traditional event dates back to the Middle Ages and was revived by Randwick's late vicar, Rev Nial Morrison, in 1972 and has steadily grown to become one of the region's leading annual events, attracting visitors from as far away as Canada, the USA and Australia. The Wap it…
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57. Longborough Festival Opera
Few villages can claim to have an opera house in their midst, but each summer thousands of opera lovers flock to the usually sleepy north Cotswold village of Longborough, near Stow-on-the-Wold, for month-long festival. Longborough Festival Opera (LFO), founded by Lizzie and Martin Graham, is based at New Banks Fee where a barn was converted into a theatre, using seats from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, which were being discarded during refurbishment. The Longborough opera house has an intimate auditorium seating just under 500, with an…
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58. Art Couture Painswick (ACP)
In July each year, an arts festival with a difference takes place throughout the streets of Painswick, the town known as the "Queen of the Cotswolds". Art Couture Painswick (ACP) is an artistic venture that encourages creative people of all ages and from all walks of life to participate in making works of art using the body as a canvas for creativity. The festival features stage shows where models display the astonishing creations, and a team of celebrity judges decides on the winners. The stage is located in the…
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59. Fairytale Farm, Chipping Norton
Fairytale Farm is the only visitor attraction in the UK to put disabled children first in its design and layout, and with no pre-booking required. Children will love the farm, located just outside Chipping Norton. which is a sensory and learning wonderland for all the family. With its exciting adventure playground, an enchanted walk with a surprise around every corner and a chance to meet some amazing animals - including donkeys, goats, aplacas and rheas - there is so much to see and do. But what is the…
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60. Stanway House & Fountain
Stanway House is an outstandingly beautiful example of a Jacobean manor house which has changed hands just once since AD715. It was owned by Tewkesbury Abbey for 800 years then for 500 years by the Tracy family and their descendants, the Earls of Wemyss who still live there. Summertime visitors can not only enjoy the house and its fascinating furniture, but also the jewel-like gatehouse, the church and 14th Century Tithe Barn, and 18th Century water garden. The formal canal, on a terrace above the house, the striking…
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61. World-class Eventing in the Cotswolds at Badminton and Gatcombe Park
Tens of thousands of equestrian fans converge on two venues in the southern Cotswolds each summer for two of the UK's premier eventing competitions. The Badminton Horse Trials take place in April or May each year in the park of Badminton House, Gloucestershire, the seat of the Duke of Beaufort. Badminton was first held in 1949 by the 10th Duke of Beaufort in order to let British riders train for future international events and was advertised as "the most important horse event in Britain". It was the second…
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62. Fetes, Fairs & Country Shows
Village fetes and country fairs are among the classic ingredients of country life and with so many wonderful small towns and villages, the Cotswolds' calendar has an abundance of such events. Each year, determined residents of dozens of Cotswold towns and villages devote themselves to organising a traditional fete or show, usually in the summer months, to raise funds for worthy local causes. An outstanding example of how such events bring communities together is the Grand Village Fete, which has been held in Brimscombe, near Stroud, for…
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63. The Cotswolds' Antiques trade
As well as being one of the most beautiful and historic areas of England, the Cotswolds is also the home of the largest concentration of art and antiques outside London. Antiques shops can be found right across the Cotswolds but there are strong clusters of traders in Stow-on-the-Wold, Woodstock, Burford and Tetbury, which has its own antiques association. The diversity on offer in a comparatively small geographical area makes the Cotswolds a happy hunting ground for both the antique collector and the connoisseur. The Cotswolds Art & Antique…
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64. Police museums in Tetbury & Winchcombe
Two very different kinds of police museums can be found at two ends of the Cotswolds. In the south, Tetbury Police Museum is located, along with the town council offices, at the town's former Victorian police station and courthouse in Long Street. The museum is primarily dedicated to the history of the Gloucestershire Constabulary, which was founded in 1839, but it also houses the largest collection of handcuffs and restraints on public view in the United Kingdom. The museum a number of interesting displays of photographs and equipment…
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65. Cotswold Voluntary Wardens
The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens form part of the wider Cotswolds Conservation Board and carry out a wide range of tasks to help keep the Cotswolds special. Established in 1968, the Wardens have continued to grow into the 350-strong membership of today.   Anyone can join, all you need is enthusiasm for the Cotswolds and a willingness to offer your time and skills to help keep the Cotswolds special. The Wardens' varied roles include helping to conserve and enhance the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), taking part…
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66. Northleach Steam & Vintage Show
A traditional country steam show, which was a popular fixture in the Cotswold calendar for decades before lapsing for 13 years, has proved a hit again since its revival in 2013. Northleach Steam & Vintage Show took place on a showground nestled on a hillside on the borders of Eastington and Northleach for many years from the 1950s when it drew steam enthusiasts from near and far. Whilst it might not have been one of the biggest shows in the country, its heritage and relaxed atmosphere set…
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67. Prinknash Abbey (and the neighbouring Bird & Deer Park)
Prinknash, about two miles from the lovely Cotswold town of Painswick, is worth visiting for two very distinct reasons - Prinknash Abbey and the nearby Bird & Deer Park. Prinknash Abbey is a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery close to the village of Cranham. The community of 12 monks belong to the Subiaco Congregation within the International Benedictine Confederation which has its base at Sant’Anselmo Rome. The monks' life is regulated by the Rule of Saint Benedict that was written 1,500 years ago in Italy. The Prinknash community began…
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68. Gordon Russell Design Museum, Broadway
Sir Gordon Russell was a renowned 20th Century furniture designer, craftsman, entrepreneur, educator and champion of accessible, well-crafted design who influenced furniture design worldwide. Schooled in the Arts and Crafts tradition of the Cotswolds, Sir Gordon believed that good design has a lasting impact on people’s lives. At one point his manufacturing business, based in the lovely Cotswold village of Broadway, employed more than 200 people locally. Sir Gordon died in 1980, aged 88, but in 2008, the Gordon Russell Design Museum opened in his firm's original Grade…
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69. Cheltenham's Four Fabulous Festivals... Jazz, Science, Music and Literature
Although it is located on the edge of the Cotswold Hills, Cheltenham is known as the "Centre for the Cotswolds"  and this is certainly true when it comes to staging major cultural events. Cheltenham is the home to four major festivals - jazz, music, science and literature - which take place throughout the year. Run by the Cheltenham Festivals charity, they have combined annual ticket sales of more than 200,000. Cheltenham Jazz Festival, formed in 1996, takes place in a tented village in the town's Montpellier Gardens, in…
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70. Snowshill Manor
Snowshill Manor, near Broadway, is a Cotswold manor house packed with thousands of items collected by just one man. Charles Paget Wade started collecting at the age of seven and eventually built up a collection of more than 22,000 items, which included furniture, musical instruments, toys and paintings, not to mention 26 suits of Japanese Samurai armour. Having purchased the estate at Snowshill in 1919, Wade restored the Manor House and laid out the gardens from 1920 to 1923. He housed the collection in the Manor, choosing…
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71. The "grandest churchyard in England" with (just over) 99 yew trees
The churchyard of St Mary's Church in the Cotswold village of Painswick was described by the renowned historian Alec Clifton-Taylor as "the grandest churchyard in England" with its famous tombs and yew trees. Often referred to as "The Queen of the Cotswolds", Painswick's narrow streets and traditional architecture make it the epitome of the English village Legend suggests that there are just 99 yew trees growing in Painswick churchyard and that the devil would destroy the hundredth if it were ever planted. In the year 2000 St Mary's…
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72. New Brewery Arts, Cirencester
New Brewery Arts in Cirencester has been a centre for the arts and artistic crafts for more than 30 years. The former Victorian brewery building was set for demolition in the 1970s until a local group proposed repair and conversion into craft workshops instead and Cirencester Workshops opened in 1979. Subsequently, following a bequest, the former barrel store was converted in 1984 into educational studios surrounding a theatre (the Niccol Centre). Brewery Arts was formed in 1989 from the merger of Cirencester Workshops and the Niccol Centre. Following…
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73. Lodge Park and the Sherborne Estate
Nestled in the Cotswold countryside on the picturesque Sherborne Estate, Lodge Park is England’s only surviving and probably most opulent 17th Century grandstand. It was purpose-built in 1634 by John ‘Crump’ Dutton as an observation post for deer coursing and for lavish entertainment. In 1726 renowned landscape designer Charles Bridgeman redesigned the parkland at Lodge Park which is situated near the Cotswold villages of Sherborne and Aldsworth, and the market town of Northleach. In the 19th Century Lodge Park was modified into a house, then a row of…
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74. The Wilson Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum
The Wilson, Cheltenham's newly extended and renamed Art Gallery & Museum reopened it doors to the public in October 2013 with a transformational development costing about £6.3 million. The building in Clarence Street has four new floors which house a gallery dedicated to The Wilson's extensive fine art collections, and two superb exhibition galleries for showing national and international touring shows. Gallery space is also dedicated to the internationally renowned Arts & Crafts Movement, which was rooted in the Cotswolds. Temporary exhibition spaces are filled with varied programming…
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75. Cleeve Hill & Common
At 1,083 feet, Cleeve Hill and Common is the highest point of the Cotswolds and in the county of Gloucestershire. The site, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, lies at the top of the Cotswold scarp and is within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It is important for its extensive area of limestone grassland, as well as its many geological and landscape features. It contains a wealth of archaeological interest, including three scheduled monuments. Cleeve is Gloucestershire’s largest common, with an area of…
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76. The Cotswold Show, Cirencester
The Cotswold Show, which takes place each year at Cirencester Park over a weekend in the middle of the English summer, has been going for over 25 years and has grown to become one of the most popular country shows in the calendar. Attracting about 40,000 visitors over two days, The Cotswold Show is held at the ancestral seat of Lord Bathurst and it brings together countryside pursuits, family entertainment and a fun day out for all ages. The event started in 1989 under the brand name…
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77. Golf in the Cotswolds
There are some beautiful golf courses in the Cotswolds, from 18-hole championship courses to pay and play. Here's the Loving the Cotswolds' round-up of the best courses in the area: Minchinhampton Golf Club, near Stroud, was founded in 1889 and is one of the oldest clubs in the Cotswolds. It now comprises three golf courses, each of quite different character. Way "up north" in the Cotswolds is Broadway Golf Club, another long-established club, having been founded in 1895. Situated at Willersey Hill, the course offers superb views over the…
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78. Cirencester Park
Cirencester Park, home to the Bathurst family, is just a short walk from Cirencester town centre and boasts some of the most stunning vistas in England. One of the main secrets of this historic parkland is the fact that the estate has remained within the same family for over 300 years, which has helped maintained continuity in values and personal vision. The estate, which was purchased by Sir Benjamin Bathurst in 1695, was formerly known as Oakley Grove. When Sir Benjamin died in 1704, his son Allen…
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79. Cotswolds Rural Skills
In the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), traditional skills such as dry-stone walling, hedgelaying and woodland coppicing have played an important role in moulding the distinctive and unique landscape that we see around us today. Unfortunately, the significant change in land management practices over the past century has resulted in many of these features being left neglected and falling into disrepair. The Cotswolds Rural Skills website aims to promote rural skills and crafts courses run in the Cotswolds by community groups, organisations, charities and colleges.…
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80. Open-air swimming pools
People in both the north and the south of the Cotswolds are fortunate to have access to lovely open-air swimming pools during the summer months. Cirencester Open Air Swimming Pool, built in 1869, is Britain's oldest open air swimming pool and is unique in that it offers the chance to swim in natural spring water heated to an average 27°C (80°F). Located on the edge of Cirencester Park, there is a 28-metre main pool with slide and a separate children's paddling pool, along with a sunbathing patio.…
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81. Point-to-Point Racing
As well as being a major centre for the horse racing world, the Cotswolds is a popular centre for point-to-point, a form of amateur horse racing over fences for hunting horses. In Ireland, many of the horses will appear in these races before they compete in National Hunt races either in Ireland or in the UK. In contrast, in England and Wales horses running in point-to-points are more likely to be at the end of their National Hunt careers. Some of the most popular meetings are organised each…
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82. Hailes Abbey
The Cistercian abbey of Hailes, two miles north-east of Winchcombe, was founded in 1246 by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, called "King of the Romans" and the younger brother of King Henry III of England. Richard founded the abbey to thank God, after he had survived a shipwreck. Richard had been granted the manor of Hailes by King Henry, and settled it with Cistercian monks from Beaulieu Abbey in Hampshire. The great Cistercian abbey was entirely built in a single campaign in 1277, and was consecrated in a…
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83. Markets in the Cotswolds
Every major town in the Cotswolds has its own market, be it a weekly retail market, farmers market or WI country market run by the local women's institute. Farmers markets are great places to chat to producers and pick up fresh, local fare. They tend to offer outstanding food at exceptional value, usually all locally grown, produced or reared and almost always organic. There are many producers whose food can only be bought in local markets and small shops.  Retail markets are great of finding bargains and unusual…
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84. Fishing in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is blessed with some wonderful places to fish, many of them in stunning locations. Bibury Trout Farm, six miles north-east of Cirencester, is one of Britain’s oldest and most attractive trout farms in the centre of what has been described as "the most beautiful village in England". The trout farm was founded in 1902 by the naturalist Arthur Severn to stock local rivers and streams with the native brown trout. It now covers 15 acres in one of the most beautiful valleys in the…
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85. Music Festivals in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds can boast a wide variety of music festivals to appeal to all tastes, from rock music to jazz and classical. In recent years there has been a growth in both the number and the quality of festivals which draw thousands of visitors to the Cotswolds each year, as well as providing residents with some outstanding music right on their doorstep. Two of the biggest Cotswold music festivals - Cornbury Music Festival at Great Tew, and The Big Feastival at Kingham - have their own entries in our list…
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86. Arts Festivals in the Cotswolds
Each year a number of towns and larger villages in the Cotswolds host arts festivals which draw visitors from near and far and provide visitors with a huge variety of creative work to admire and enjoy. One of the first arts festivals in the calendar is in the town of Wotton-under-Edge in the southern end of the Cotswolds. The 2015 Wotton Arts Festival, which took place in late April and early May, was the town's 45th such festival celebrating the arts in Wotton and the surrounding area, with…
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87. Food & Drink Festivals in the Cotswolds
Food & drink festivals have become increasingly popular events across the UK in recent years and the Cotswolds is no exception, with its rich farming heritage and so many great places to host indoor and outdoor festivals. A few years ago, the Chipping Campden area saw the birth of BITE, which started life as a week-long food festival but has now spread its wings with events across the Cotswolds and beyond. Two popular food & drink festivals are held in two nearby south Cotswold towns in the early summer. Fairford Food &…
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88. Broadway Activity Park
The Cotswold village of Broadway may be famous for its beautiful High Street and its top class hotels, restaurants and shops, but it now also has a state-of-the-art children's playground that is regarded by locals as the best in the area - and it doesn't cost a penny to use. Broadway Activity Park opened in 2009 following a £300,000 revamp of the village's three-acre recreation ground, situated down a path half-way up the High Street. The activity park boasts three zones equipped for toddlers, juniors and teenagers.…
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89. Cycling in the Cotswolds
Cycling is a great way to explore the wonderful scenery and appreciate the distinctive character of the Cotswolds. Britain’s largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers a fantastic opportunity for cycling.  Routes range from the gentler slopes of the south Cotswolds to the sharper escarpments of the north, giving every level of cyclist a chance to enjoy the extensive network of tracks and lanes. An extensive network of country lanes link well-known Cotswold villages and market towns and there is a tremendous choice of routes with an ever-changing view. There…
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90. Horse riding in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds offer wonderful riding country and there are many equestrian centres dotted around with many places offering horse riding days out and plenty of routes to follow. Riding is a very popular pastime in the Cotswold Water Park, in the southern Cotswolds, with some excellent bridlepaths, lanes and rides, and easy access from nearby car parks. The long distance riding route the Sabrina Way runs through the Cotswolds, from Gotherington, north of Cheltenham, to Great Barrington, near Burford in Oxfordshire, where it joins with another riding route,…
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91. Taking to the skies over the Cotswolds
One of the best ways to admire the true beauty of the Cotswolds is from the air and there are some great options for doing so, be it in a hot air balloon, glider, light aircraft or helicopter. Here are a few of the options available to adventurous people looking to get an aerial view of the Cotswolds: Ballooning in the Cotswolds has been offering Champagne hot air balloon flights over the Cotswolds since 1985. With launch sites at Cirencester, Stroud, Bourton-on-the-Water, Cheltenham and Gloucester, the company flies…
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92. Bisley Well Dressing
In the village of Bisley, near Stroud, an Ascension Day tradition dating back to 1863 is carried out each year by senior pupils from Bisley Blue Coat School. Dressed in period costume, the pupils, carrying floral displays, process through the streets of Bisley to the accompaniment of a silver band and dress the wells to give thanks for the village's clean water. The wells - seven water chutes underneath the slope below All Saints Church -  were restored in 1863 at the instance of the Reverend Thomas…
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93. Drinking in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds really does have it all for anyone who enjoys a drink. Not only are there scores of great pubs across the area, but the area is also home to a number of breweries, while drinkers can indulge their passion at various beer festivals held throughout the year. With so many wonderful pubs dotted around the beautiful towns and villages of the Cotswolds, it would be wrong to single any out because they all possess their individual character and charm. However, it must be mentioned that among all the…
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94. Museum in the Park, Stroud
Set in the beautiful grounds of Stratford Park in Stroud, The Museum in the Park is based in a Grade II listed 17th Century wool merchant’s mansion house and tells the fascinating story of the Stroud District’s rich and diverse history. With over 4,000 objects on display, including dinosaur bones, historical paintings and even one of the world’s first lawnmowers, there is something to spark the interest of everyone. Many of the museum's rooms contain interactives and toys, and some even sport peep holes into the cabinets…
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95. Cotswold Canals and their restoration
Two separate waterways (collectively known as the 'Cotswold Canals') once linked England's two greatest rivers - the Thames and the Severn.   The Stroudwater Navigation, to the west of Stroud, was opened in 1779 to connect the town to the River Severn. Ten years later, the Thames & Severn Canal extended this route to Lechlade on the Thames - a 36-mile cross-country route.   The waterway climbed up from the Severn Plain by many locks through the picturesque Golden Valley to the famous Sapperton Tunnel which, at over two…
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96. Prescott Hill Climb
Prescott Hill Climb is based in glorious Cotswold countryside a few miles from Cheltenham and is home to one of the world's most prestigious motor racing venues. The Prescott Estate, covering approximately 60 acres, is situated off the A435 between Gotherington and Gretton. Not only does it provide a beautiful setting for a range of classic car and bike weekends, but it also hosts major motor racing championships. During summer weekends ‘the hill’ is alive to the sound of Bugattis, MGs, Morgans, GT40s and many other names of…
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97. Chavenage House, Tetbury
Chavenage House, an Elizabethan era manor house near Tetbury that is steeped in history and a ghostly legend, has become one of the most popular television and film locations in the Cotswolds. Situated a mile-and-a-half northwest of Tetbury, Chavenage has many Civil War associations, including the tapestry-lined rooms that were stayed in by Oliver Cromwell and his second-in-command, General Ireton, in 1648. The "Legend of Chavenage" revolves around the story of Col Nathaniel Stephens MP, the Lord of the Manor during the Civil War, being cursed by…
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98. Sezincote House & Garden
Sezincote is a unique and extraordinary Indian house set amidst the Cotswold Hills a few miles from Moreton-in-Marsh. Sezincote is mentioned in the Domesday Book and the independent parish of Sezincote was small but did have its own church, near to the present tennis court, until it was razed to the ground by Parliamentary troops during the English Civil War.  Sezincote House was built in 1810 by Charles Cockerell, a Member of Parliament for Evesham, who had worked in India, assisted by his brother, the architect Samuel…
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99. "The Chippy Panto"
The Theatre Chipping Norton, which was opened in 1975 in an old Salvation Army citadel in Spring Street, hosts a wealth of events throughout the year. But its greatest claim to fame is its world-renowned traditional family pantomime, which draws on a long history of traditional values, top-notch creative teams, and original, daring twists to make it an irreplaceable part of countless family Christmases. Indeed, it's often been said that "Christmas just isn't Christmas until you've been to the Chippy Panto".   Over the years, the Chippy Panto has…
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100. Bourton-on-the-Water's Christmas tree in the River Windrush
The Cotswolds can be a winter wonderland and the magic of a snow-covered Bourton-on-the-Water is always a possibility. One of the Bourton's seasonal attractions is the Christmas tree which the Chamber of Commerce puts in the River Windrush in the centre of the village each year. The profusion of lights reflects in the rippling water creating a scene never to be forgotten.   The tree is illuminated from December 1 to January 5, but the official switching on celebrations are held at 6pm on the first Friday of December, the date of Bourton-on-the-Water's Christmas late night…
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1. The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The Cotswolds is one of the most beautiful areas of England, known and loved by people across the world. With its Cotswold stone walls and buildings, open skies, rolling grasslands, beech woods and captivating towns and villages, the Cotswolds is a landscape once experienced, never forgotten. 'Wold' is Old English for 'upland common' and for centuries the rolling Cotswold Hills have been used for sheep and arable farming. At one time the Cotswolds was populated by half a million sheep and the wool trade with Europe was significant with Flemish weavers brought to England…
2. Cotswold stone
The single most thing that gives the Cotswolds its distinctive character is the Jurassic oolitic limestone that lies beneath the land. The limestone, in all its various shades, is much prized as a building stone and is used extensively in buildings, towns, villages and dry stone walls throughout the Cotswolds, generating a feeling of unity between the natural and built environment.  Stone has been quarried in the Cotswolds for centuries and for a variety of uses - everything from small farm buildings to the magnificent wool churches. Its texture enabled stone masons to produce interesting…
3. Farming in the Cotswolds
Farming has always been a crucial part of life in the Cotswolds, although farming and production methods have changed hugely over time as new machinery and technology has been introduced.  Agricultural land in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) comprises 176,393 hectares (approximately 435,690 acres), which equates to 86% of all land within the AONB. A 2007 survey revealed that there were a total of 3,434 farm holdings in the Cotswolds AONB with an average size of 51.4 hectares (127 acres).  However, the actual number of farm businesses is considerably lower…
4. Royal Cotswolds
Several members of the Royal Family live in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, including Prince Charles at Highgrove House, near Tetbury, and the Princess Royal at Gatcombe Park, near Minchinhampton. Highgrove, the Cotswold home of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, is famous for its beautiful gardens which can be visited by the public by booking well in advance. The Highgrove Garden is normally open from April until October and tours take place on weekdays only. Six miles north of Highgrove is Gatcombe Park, the private country home…
5. Shin-kicking and the Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpicks
Shin-kicking is a combat sport that involves two contestants attempting to kick each other on the shin to force their opponent to the ground. It's arguably the biggest attraction at the Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpicks, held annually in the early summer at Dover's Hill, just outside Chipping Campden, which draws thousands of spectators. Shin-kicking originated in England in the early 17th Century and has been described as an English martial art. It was included in the 1951 revival of the Cotswold Olimpicks, which now features the World…
6. Laurie Lee, "Cider with Rosie" and the Laurie Lee Wood
Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee's 1959 autobiographical novel which describes his childhood in the village of Slad, near Stroud, has brought the Cotswolds to the attention of a global audience. The novel wonderfully chronicles life in a traditional Gloucestershire village in the period soon after the First World War, which disappeared with the advent of new developments, such as the coming of the motor car. Laurie Lee's book, which as sold over six million copies worldwide, relates the experiences of his childhood seen from many years later…
7. The Cotswold Hills Geopark
The beauty of the Cotswolds is more than just skin deep. It’s the geology beneath the rolling hills and pretty villages that makes this much-loved corner of England the unique place it is today. And put quite simply in the words of Mark Campbell, chairman of the Gloucestershire Geology Trust: "The reason we have the Cotswolds Hills is 100% down to the geology."  In fact, the geology of the Cotswolds is so special that a swathe of land 60 miles long has been designated as the 'Cotswold Hills…
8. Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens
Set in 160 acres of landscaped parkland and gardens two miles south of Burford, the Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens exhibits over 260 different species of animals and is the largest privately owned zoological collection in the UK (by species). A day out at the park provides a memorable experience for the whole family with rare and endangered animals such as lions, giraffes and camels on show. Visitors can walk through the Madagascar enclosure with free-roaming lemurs and see meerkats, penguins and tropical birds in the exotically…
9. Cotswold Lion sheep
Although the Cotswold Lion is "only" a breed of sheep, it is actually one of the main reasons people visit the Cotswolds, even though they may not know it. The Cotswolds' flourishing wool trade during the Medieval period created the wealth that shaped so many of the area's beautiful market towns and villages, a beauty that is still very much in evidence today. As Adam Henson, the Cotswolds' "celebrity farmer", has said: "The riches the Cotswold wool brought to the region helped build the great houses and churches…
10. The Cotswold Way National Trail
The Cotswold Way is a 102-mile (164 km) long distance walking National Trail which runs between the beautiful market town of Chipping Campden in the north and the World Heritage City of Bath in the south. The Cotswolds as a whole is renowned for its wonderful walks, providing walkers from all over the world with some wonderful places to enjoy their passion, but the Cotswold Way is undoubtedly the most famous and popular trail in the area. Running for most of its length on the Cotswold escarpment, the Cotswold Way passes through many…
11. Horse Racing & the Cheltenham Gold Cup
Each March, tens of thousands of horse racing fans flock to the Cotswolds for the Cheltenham Festival. Four days of anticipation, atmosphere and action are played out on a beautiful sporting arena, climaxing with the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Cotswold Hills form a stunning backdrop to Cheltenham Racecourse and within those hills is undoubtedly the greatest concentration of racehorse training establishments in the country. The Cotswolds is home to well over 20 racehorse trainers, not least the Irishman Jonjo O'Neill, a two-time Champion Jockey who is now…
12. The Arts and Crafts Movement and Court Barn Museum, Chipping Campden
Court Barn Museum, which opened in Chipping Campden in 2007, tells the story of the world famous Arts and Crafts Movement and its legacy and how this small Cotswold town became a gathering place for designers and craftspeople of national and international repute. The Arts and Crafts Movement emphasised the importance of creative manual work and the breakdown of the barrier between designer and maker, looking for inspiration to the English countryside. William Morris, one of the Arts and Crafts Movement's leaders, was greatly influenced by the…
13. Cotswold Market Halls
Several prominent towns in the Cotswolds are fortunate to have as their centrepiece iconic Market Halls which are steeped in history. One of these can be found in the centre Tetbury where the three-storey Market Hall is an attractively restored pillared building dating back to 1655. Over the years it has seen service as a market place, fire station, and gaol. The cupola on top was added to mark Queen Victoria's Jubilee, but apart from that the Market Hall is much as it would have been over…
14. Corinium Museum, Cirencester
This award-winning museum not only enables visitors to explore the history and treasures of the Cotswolds but it is home to one of the largest collections of Romano-British antiquities  from Corinium, Roman Britain's second largest city, now known as Cirencester. An inspiring and interactive experience for everyone, the museum features the work of Prehistoric metal smiths, Roman mosaics, Anglo Saxons and their buried treasures, Medieval sculpture, Civil War coin hoards and the elegance of Victorian Cirencester. These collections are of the highest heritage merit and are…
15. Broadway Tower
Broadway Tower is one of England's outstanding viewpoints and at 1,024 feet (312m) above sea level, it is the second highest point on the Cotswold escarpment after Cleeve Hill. It offers breathtaking views of as many as 16 counties, encompassing the vast expanse from the peaks of the Welsh mountains to High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. The "Saxon" tower, which stands 65 feet high, was the brainchild of Capability Brown and designed by James Wyatt in 1794 in the form of a castle and built for Lady Coventry…
16. Arlington Row, Bibury
The picturesque group of cottages on Arlington Row in the beautiful village of Bibury is without doubt one of the most photographed Cotswold scenes. It is probably also now the most depicted village in the world because since 2010, a picture of the former weavers' cottages in Arlington Row has appeared on the inside cover of all newly-issued UK passports. Situated about seven miles from Cirencester, Bibury was described by the 19th Century artist and craftsman William Morris as "the most beautiful village in England" when he…
17. Moreton-in-Marsh Show
Held on the first Saturday in September, the Moreton-in-Marsh Show is one of the largest one-day agricultural shows in the UK, attracting over 20,000 visitors from far and wide each year. With all the charm of a traditional country show, Moreton Show really does offer something for everyone. Competitions are held for horses, cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, dogs, crafts, flowers and even scarecrows. There are also over 300 trade stands selling everything from farm equipment and gardening gear to designer clothes and toys, as well as a…
18. The Rollright Stones
This ancient Neolithic stone circle is located near the north Cotswold village of Long Compton on the borders of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. The Rollright Stones, which span nearly 2,000 years of development, consist of three groups: the King's Men stone circle; the Whispering Knights burial chamber; and the single King Stone. Stories grew up around the stones, telling of how they had once been a king and his knights who had been turned to stone by a witch. Such stories continued to be taught amongst local people well into…
19. The Model Village, Bourton-on-the-Water
The Model Village is a one-ninth scale replica of the heart of Bourton-on-the-Water, containing all the buildings from the Old Water Mill (now the Motor Museum) down to the Old New Inn and the ford. Located in Rissington Road, the Model Village was created by a previous landlord of the Old New Inn. It took local craftsmen five years to build and was officially opened on the Coronation Day of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the late Queen Mother) in 1937. The Model Village also includes a running…
20. Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham
Pittville Pump Room is the jewel of Cheltenham’s Regency architecture and is the grandest survival of the town’s many spa buildings. Built in 1830, elegant Grade I listed building is surrounded on three sides by majestic columns. Overlooking the sweeping lawns and lakes of Pittville Park, the Pump Room is a monument to the more than 100 years of fame Cheltenham enjoyed as a Spa town. It is now Cheltenham’s most spectacular private hire venue and regularly hosts weddings, parties and corporate hospitality. When not in use, visitors can…
21. Sudeley Castle & Gardens, Winchcombe
Set against the backdrop of the Cotswold Hills, Sudeley Castle is steeped in history, with royal connections spanning 1,000 years. The castle, just outside Winchcombe, was once home to Queen Katherine Parr - the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII - who lies entombed in St Mary's Church in the castle grounds. King Charles I found refuge here during the English Civil War when his nephew Prince Rupert established headquarters at Sudeley Castle. Following its ‘slighting’ on Oliver Cromwell’s orders at the end of the Civil…
22. Two Amazing Arboreta - Westonbirt, the National Arboretum, and Batsford Arboretum
As if the Cotswolds landscape isn't beautiful enough to attract visitors from all over the world, the area is also home to two wonderful arboreta. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, is located three miles from the market town of Tetbury in the south Cotswolds. The historic, Victorian picturesque landscape and internationally important tree and shrub collection is managed by the Forestry Commission and supported by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum.   The 14,902 labelled trees (representing about 2,500 different types of tree) come from Britain, China, North America, Japan,…
23. Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) is often known as the "Friendly line in the Cotswolds" – and not without reason. The GWR is a professional operating railway almost entirely run by volunteers who are from all walks of live and who are passionate about what they do. The track runs along part of the former Great Western Railway's mainline from Birmingham to Cheltenham. Primarily built in the 1900s, the line closed to local passenger traffic in 1960 but remained in use for goods services until 1976. The Gloucestershire…
24. Cotswold Water Park... and the UK's largest inland beach
Just a few miles from Cirencester, the Cotswold Water Park is an incredible leisure resource that was born out of gravel extraction which began half a century ago. But the Cotswold Water Park is not what many people might imagine it to be, as there are no water slides, log flumes or the like. It is, in fact, a collection of 150 lakes and wetlands, covering 40 square miles, making it one of the UK's largest nature reserves with many previously "lost" species being successfully reintroduced…
25. Birdland Park & Gardens (and its colony of king penguins)
Set on the River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water, Cotswold Birdland Park & Gardens is home to over 120 species of birds from all around the world. But the park's star attraction is without doubt its group of king penguins, the only such group in England. Founded in 1957, Birdland was one of the UK's original bird gardens, providing home to weird and wonderful species of birds from all over the world, including parrots, owls, flamingos and birds of prey. But it is the king penguins who take centre stage…
26. Wool churches of the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds was an important centre for the medieval wool trade and some of the churches built during this time and sponsored by successful wool merchants of the Cotswolds, and referred to now as “wool churches”. The wool churches directly mirror the profitable nature of the medieval wool trade in the elaborate nature of their designs, with many of them more like mini-cathedrals, complete with carvings, stained-glass, and interior funeral monuments. Indeed, St John the Baptist, Cirencester, is often called the "Cathedral of the Cotswolds" and is…
27. Giffords Circus
Nell and Toti Gifford started Giffords Circus in 2000 and over the past 14 years their touring circus has amassed a loyal following in the Cotswolds and beyond, performing to over 250,000 people. The Giffords' vision was of a miniature village green circus and their unique blend of bohemian artisan entertainment combines dance, comedy, acrobatics, juggling, live music and farmyard animals. Their signature burgundy and gold showman’s wagons and billowing tent have become a summer staple in village greens and market towns throughout the Cotswolds, where most…
28. Chedworth Roman Villa
Situated in the heart of the Cotswolds, Chedworth is one of the largest Roman villas in Britain. The villa was accidentally discovered in June 1864 by two men working on the Stowell Park Estate who were ferreting for rabbits in the woods when their ferret got stuck down a hole. As they dug the ferret out they revealed a small patch of mosaic pavement. Realising the significance of the find they reported it and it came to the attention of the young landowner – 19-year-old Lord Eldon.…
29. Adam Henson's Cotswold Farm Park
The Cotswold Farm Park can claim to have a rare breed for just about every week of the year. Situated in open north Cotswold countryside, near Guiting Power, the Cotswold Farm Park has come a long way since it was opened in 1971 by Joe Henson, a farmer with a passion for rare breed conservation. Now open to the public for 10 months of the year, the farm park is home to more than 50 breeds - from Gloucester cattle to Guernsey goats, Cotswold sheep to crested ducks…
30. Chastleton House - "the birthplace of croquet"
A rare Jacobean gem, Chastleton House, near Moreton-in-Marsh, remained almost unchanged for nearly 400 years and is now a fragile time capsule from another age. Chastleton House was built between 1607 and 1612 for Walter Jones, a prosperous wool merchant, as an impressive statement of wealth and power. The house was built of Cotswold stone round a small courtyard called the Dairy Court. The gardens have much to interest visitors as well. The middle terraces are the site of two croquet lawns, originally laid out by Walter Whitmore-Jones in…
31. Cotswold Falconry Centre
Started in 1988, Cotswold Falconry houses about 150 birds of prey at its base at its base at Batsford Park, near Moreton-in-Marsh.   More than 30 different separate species have been bred in the centre's successful, but non-commercial, breeding aviaries. The aim of the centre is to promote the greater understanding of birds of prey through education and fun and many of its birds can be seen during the free flying demonstrations. Cotswold Falconry Centre attracts more than 20,000 visitors each year who are also encouraged to follow the path…
32. The Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford
Few events can rival the intensity, drama and spectacle on offer at the Royal International Air Tattoo - the world's greatest airshow which takes place in the Cotswolds at RAF Fairford each summer. Alongside the thrilling flying action involving more than 200 aircraft each year, around 140,000 visitors are treated to non-stop entertainment on the ground. With support from the Royal Air Force and some of the world's leading aerospace companies, the Air Tattoo is acknowledged as not only the world's largest military airshow but also one…
33. The Fabulous Baker Brothers
Cotswold-based brothers Tom (the baker) and Henry (the butcher) Herbert are the new faces of British cookery and are continuing to win legions of television fans at home and abroad. The Herbert brothers came to prominence through two books and their hit Channel 4 series The Fabulous Baker Brothers, a show that also won them the chance to make a two-part food and travelogue show in the US. Their family business, Hobbs House Bakery, has shops in four towns in the south of the Cotswolds - at…
34. The Old Prison, Northleach
The Old Prison is a fascinating 18th Century building in the Cotswold market town of Northleach and a historic visitor attraction. A visit to the Old Prison offers you a unique glimpse into life in the Northleach House of Correction, one of four houses of correction in Gloucestershire. Built in the 1790s, this was once a fine example of a model prison used to inspire better care and rehabilitation of prisoners throughout Britain and further afield. It even served as a blueprint for London's Pentonville Prison. The keeper's…
35. Kelmscott Manor
This Grade I listed farmhouse on the edge of the village of Kelmscott, near Lechlade, was built around 1600 next to the River Thames. Built of local limestone, between 1871 and 1896 it was the summer home of William Morris, the English artist, writer, textile designer and socialist. Morris signed a joint lease with the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the summer of 1871. Morris loved the house as a work of true craftsmanship, totally unspoilt and unaltered, and in harmony with the village and the surrounding countryside.…
36. Painswick Rococo Garden
Situated outside the beautiful Cotswold town of Painswick, and famous for its snowdrop display, the Rococo Garden is a fascinating step back to a flamboyant and sensual period of English garden design, when gardens were almost theatrical sets used as a backdrop to decadent garden parties. This gem of a garden of more than six acres, which was originally laid out in the early 18th Century, is set in a hidden Cotswold valley with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. Painswick House was built in the mid-1730s…
37. Slimbridge Wetland Centre
Slimbridge is a wetland reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) near Slimbridge in Gloucestershire on the estuary of the River Severn. Opened in 1946 by the artist and naturalist Sir Peter Scott, Slimbridge was the first WWT reserve to be opened. The Sloane Observation Tower gives far-reaching views to the Cotswold escarpment in the east and the River Severn and Forest of Dean in the west. The centre has a shop, restaurant, art gallery and Tropical House. The site is 120 acres of reserve, of…
38. Morris Dancing in the Cotswolds
The sight of a group of men dressed in costume wearing hats adorned with flowers and ribbons, with garters around the legs with bells attached dancing to music with handkerchiefs or sticks might be rather an unusual one for many visitors to the Cotswolds. But to local people, Morris dancing is just a part of everyday life, as the Cotswolds is a popular centre for this peculiarly English tradition which dates back centuries. Very little is known about the origins of Morris dancing, but as a ritual…
39. The Big Feastival, Kingham
For the past few years, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and rock star Alex James have joined forces to present The Big Feastival, a weekend celebration of music, food and fun for all the family in the Cotswolds. Alex James, the Blur guitarist-turned-Cotswold-cheesemaker, has opened up his farm near Kingham for the late summer extravaganza. The Big Feastival is a unique celebration of food and music with demos from top chefs, local produce stalls and pop-up restaurants. The 2014 festival was heralded the best yet, following performances from the…
40. Hidcote Manor Garden & Kiftsgate Court Gardens, near Chipping Campden
Two distinct gardens just a few hundred yards from each other attract thousands of garden lovers to the north Cotswolds each year. Hidcote Manor Garden, located in the tiny village of Hidcote Bartrim, near Chipping Campden, is one of England’s great Arts and Crafts gardens. Created by the American horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston in 1907, Hidcote is famous for its rare trees and shrubs, outstanding herbaceous borders and unusual plants from all over the world. In 1947 Johnston entrusted Hidcote to the National Trust and the garden welcomed…
41. River Football at Bourton-on-the-Water
On August Bank Holiday Monday each year at 4pm, one of the Cotswolds' most quirky and iconic events, which attracts media attention at home and abroad, takes place in the centre of Bourton-on-the-Water. The usually calm River Windrush, which is six to 10 inches deep, is invaded by two teams of players from Bourton Rovers Football Club battling it out for victory in the annual Football in the River match.  The traditional match dates back more than 100 years and attracts hundreds, if not thousands, of spectators…
42. Tetbury Woolsack Races
The Cotswold town of Tetbury celebrates its wool heritage each May with a gruelling event that date back hundreds of years. The Tetbury Woolsack Races is traditionally held on the Whitsun, now the Spring Bank Holiday Monday at the end of May. The event sees runners carrying sacks of wool up Gumstoll Hill, an extremely steep street in the centre of Tetbury, watched by hundreds of spectators. Many of the competitors come from local rugby teams or the British Army. The woolsacks are 60lb for men’s races and…
43. Cotswold Motoring Museum, Bourton-on-the-Water
Located in the picturesque village of Bourton-on-the-Water, the Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection provides a truly fascinating journey through the 20th Century. The museum is overflowing with vintage car collections, classic cars and motorcycles, caravans, original enamel signs and an intriguing collection of motoring curiosities. The bulk of the collection dates from the period between 1920 and 1950, with a particular focus on the 1930s, although in recent years the collection has been expanded to encompass the 1960s and 1970s. The museum owns 36 cars dating from…
44. Cirencester Roman Amphitheatre
The Cirencester Amphitheatre is one of the largest known examples surviving from the Roman occupation of Britain. Estimated to have had a capacity of about 8,000 people, it was built just outside the walls of the town (then known as Corinium) early in the 2nd Century AD. Cirencester was second only to London in size at this period, with a population of over 10,000, and was at its finest just as Roman rule was collapsing throughout the Western Empire. In AD 408, the last contingents of the regular…
45. Polo in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is a major centre for polo in the UK, the oldest ball game in the world, and is home to several of the country's top clubs which regularly attract members of the Royal Family to their ranks. The first polo match played in this country was in 1871 between the 9th Lancers and 10th Hussars and one of the players in this match, Captain Frank Henry, started the Beaufort Polo Club, near Malmesbury, in 1872. After the club had lapsed for many years, in 1977…
46. The Pudding Club
The Pudding Club was launched at The Three Ways House Hotel in Mickleton, near Chipping Campden, in 1985 with a mission to preserve the Great British Pudding. Since then it has become something of a Cotswold institution, featuring on TV and radio and in numerous newspaper and magazine articles. Every Friday evening, visitors from home and abroad descend on The Three Ways Hotel, situated in the pretty north Cotswold village of Mickleton, to experience this slightly eccentric institution. After a choice of three modest main courses, the main…
47. Woodchester Mansion
This 19th Century Victorian Gothic masterpiece, situated five miles south of Stroud, was mysteriously abandoned mid-construction in 1873. Hidden in a secluded Cotswold valley, it is untouched by time and the modern world. The Grade 1 Listed building has been saved from dereliction, but will never be completed. Visitors to Woodchester Mansion walk through an extraordinary architectural exhibit and its carvings are among the finest of their kind in the world. The mansion, which is home to two colonies of rare bats, has featured in a number of…
48. Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace, just outside Woodstock, is a true masterpiece of 18th Century baroque architecture and, as a World Heritage Site, it is high on the list of places to visit in the Cotswolds. Home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim boasts more than 2,000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown parkland and formal gardens and a magnificent lake. Blenheim Palace was built to celebrate the victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession. In particular, it…
49. Aunt Sally
Aunt Sally is a throwing game dating back hundreds of years that is played in British pubs and fairgrounds with a long tradition in the Cotswolds.  Even former British Prime Minister David Cameron tried his hand at the game during a visit to the first Aunt Sally World Championships held at a beer festival in the Cotswolds a few years ago. Aunt Sally is played primarily at pubs in a clutch of English counties, including Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. Pubs from across the north Cotswolds enter teams in the…
50. Cricket in the Cotswolds
Village cricket is the epitome of English country life - and nowhere more so than in the Cotswolds. Apart from boasting dozens of beautiful village cricket grounds, the Cotswolds also has some interesting cricketing claims to fame, both vintage and modern. Peter Pan author J M Barrie, who was a huge cricket lover but whose writing ability far outweighed his cricketing talent, has some fascinating cricketing connections with the Cotswolds. Between 1890 and 1913, Barrie was the driving force behind an amateur cricket team made up of players…
51. Cornbury Music Festival
This eclectic and eccentric musical carnival nicknamed "Poshtock" takes place over a three-day July weekend on the Great Tew Estate in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. With a mixture of local acts and national treasures, the Cornbury Music Festival is a lovingly crafted, top notch, very English open air party, tailor made for the whole family. The festival has been described as "a country fair with a rock ‘n’ roll twist". One minute you'll see global superstars performing on the main stage and the next you'll turn round to…
52. Daylesford Farmshop - "the Harvey Nichols of the Cotswolds"
Daylesford - the iconic farmshop near Kingham - has been dubbed "the Harvey Nichols of the Cotswolds". It was founded in 2002 by Carole Bamford with a simple passion for real food. Vegetables, fruit and herbs are picked each morning from the market garden and travel just a few yards into the shop and to chefs in the award-winning cafe. Next door is the dairy and creamery and farm kitchens, while farm animals roam freely on the surrounding organic pastures. Daylesford’s food comes straight from their farm to…
53. Berkeley Castle
Berkeley Castle is one of the most remarkable buildings in Britain and has been home to the same family - the Berkeleys - for 850 years. Situated to the south of the Cotswolds, the castle is believed to be the scene of the murder of King Edward II in 1327. But despite nine centuries of often turbulent British history, the castle, the Berkeley family, the archives (which go back to the 12th Century), the contents, the estate and the town have all survived. In fact, the castle is…
54. Cotswold Lavender, Snowshill
A third generation family farm on the outskirts of a small Cotswold village has become a mecca for lavender lovers. Hill Barn Farm at Snowshill, overlooking Broadway and the Vale of Evesham, is home to some 70 miles of rows and 250,000 lavender plants. Lavender was first planted at the farm in the year 2000 in fields previously used to grow wheat and barley. The lavender loves the free-draining limestone soils 1,000 feet above sea level giving the best growing conditions for the highest quality lavender. The crops are…
55. Cotswolds Conservation Board
The Cotswolds Conservation Board is the organisation that exists to conserve and enhance the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Established in 2004, the board is the only organisation to look after the AONB as a whole and is a statutory body created as a result of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW) 2000.   The act allowed for the creation of boards to oversee large AONBs that overstep county boundaries and cannot easily be hosted by one local authority. The board is made up…
56. The Randwick Wap
A series of springtime events in the village of Randwick, near Stroud, culminates in the Randwick Wap, a revived ancient festival that includes a costumed procession, the 'Mayor' getting dunked in the village pond, and a ceremonial cheese-rolling. The traditional event dates back to the Middle Ages and was revived by Randwick's late vicar, Rev Nial Morrison, in 1972 and has steadily grown to become one of the region's leading annual events, attracting visitors from as far away as Canada, the USA and Australia. The Wap it…
57. Longborough Festival Opera
Few villages can claim to have an opera house in their midst, but each summer thousands of opera lovers flock to the usually sleepy north Cotswold village of Longborough, near Stow-on-the-Wold, for month-long festival. Longborough Festival Opera (LFO), founded by Lizzie and Martin Graham, is based at New Banks Fee where a barn was converted into a theatre, using seats from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, which were being discarded during refurbishment. The Longborough opera house has an intimate auditorium seating just under 500, with an…
58. Art Couture Painswick (ACP)
In July each year, an arts festival with a difference takes place throughout the streets of Painswick, the town known as the "Queen of the Cotswolds". Art Couture Painswick (ACP) is an artistic venture that encourages creative people of all ages and from all walks of life to participate in making works of art using the body as a canvas for creativity. The festival features stage shows where models display the astonishing creations, and a team of celebrity judges decides on the winners. The stage is located in the…
59. Fairytale Farm, Chipping Norton
Fairytale Farm is the only visitor attraction in the UK to put disabled children first in its design and layout, and with no pre-booking required. Children will love the farm, located just outside Chipping Norton. which is a sensory and learning wonderland for all the family. With its exciting adventure playground, an enchanted walk with a surprise around every corner and a chance to meet some amazing animals - including donkeys, goats, aplacas and rheas - there is so much to see and do. But what is the…
60. Stanway House & Fountain
Stanway House is an outstandingly beautiful example of a Jacobean manor house which has changed hands just once since AD715. It was owned by Tewkesbury Abbey for 800 years then for 500 years by the Tracy family and their descendants, the Earls of Wemyss who still live there. Summertime visitors can not only enjoy the house and its fascinating furniture, but also the jewel-like gatehouse, the church and 14th Century Tithe Barn, and 18th Century water garden. The formal canal, on a terrace above the house, the striking…
61. World-class Eventing in the Cotswolds at Badminton and Gatcombe Park
Tens of thousands of equestrian fans converge on two venues in the southern Cotswolds each summer for two of the UK's premier eventing competitions. The Badminton Horse Trials take place in April or May each year in the park of Badminton House, Gloucestershire, the seat of the Duke of Beaufort. Badminton was first held in 1949 by the 10th Duke of Beaufort in order to let British riders train for future international events and was advertised as "the most important horse event in Britain". It was the second…
62. Fetes, Fairs & Country Shows
Village fetes and country fairs are among the classic ingredients of country life and with so many wonderful small towns and villages, the Cotswolds' calendar has an abundance of such events. Each year, determined residents of dozens of Cotswold towns and villages devote themselves to organising a traditional fete or show, usually in the summer months, to raise funds for worthy local causes. An outstanding example of how such events bring communities together is the Grand Village Fete, which has been held in Brimscombe, near Stroud, for…
63. The Cotswolds' Antiques trade
As well as being one of the most beautiful and historic areas of England, the Cotswolds is also the home of the largest concentration of art and antiques outside London. Antiques shops can be found right across the Cotswolds but there are strong clusters of traders in Stow-on-the-Wold, Woodstock, Burford and Tetbury, which has its own antiques association. The diversity on offer in a comparatively small geographical area makes the Cotswolds a happy hunting ground for both the antique collector and the connoisseur. The Cotswolds Art & Antique…
64. Police museums in Tetbury & Winchcombe
Two very different kinds of police museums can be found at two ends of the Cotswolds. In the south, Tetbury Police Museum is located, along with the town council offices, at the town's former Victorian police station and courthouse in Long Street. The museum is primarily dedicated to the history of the Gloucestershire Constabulary, which was founded in 1839, but it also houses the largest collection of handcuffs and restraints on public view in the United Kingdom. The museum a number of interesting displays of photographs and equipment…
65. Cotswold Voluntary Wardens
The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens form part of the wider Cotswolds Conservation Board and carry out a wide range of tasks to help keep the Cotswolds special. Established in 1968, the Wardens have continued to grow into the 350-strong membership of today.   Anyone can join, all you need is enthusiasm for the Cotswolds and a willingness to offer your time and skills to help keep the Cotswolds special. The Wardens' varied roles include helping to conserve and enhance the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), taking part…
66. Northleach Steam & Vintage Show
A traditional country steam show, which was a popular fixture in the Cotswold calendar for decades before lapsing for 13 years, has proved a hit again since its revival in 2013. Northleach Steam & Vintage Show took place on a showground nestled on a hillside on the borders of Eastington and Northleach for many years from the 1950s when it drew steam enthusiasts from near and far. Whilst it might not have been one of the biggest shows in the country, its heritage and relaxed atmosphere set…
67. Prinknash Abbey (and the neighbouring Bird & Deer Park)
Prinknash, about two miles from the lovely Cotswold town of Painswick, is worth visiting for two very distinct reasons - Prinknash Abbey and the nearby Bird & Deer Park. Prinknash Abbey is a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery close to the village of Cranham. The community of 12 monks belong to the Subiaco Congregation within the International Benedictine Confederation which has its base at Sant’Anselmo Rome. The monks' life is regulated by the Rule of Saint Benedict that was written 1,500 years ago in Italy. The Prinknash community began…
68. Gordon Russell Design Museum, Broadway
Sir Gordon Russell was a renowned 20th Century furniture designer, craftsman, entrepreneur, educator and champion of accessible, well-crafted design who influenced furniture design worldwide. Schooled in the Arts and Crafts tradition of the Cotswolds, Sir Gordon believed that good design has a lasting impact on people’s lives. At one point his manufacturing business, based in the lovely Cotswold village of Broadway, employed more than 200 people locally. Sir Gordon died in 1980, aged 88, but in 2008, the Gordon Russell Design Museum opened in his firm's original Grade…
69. Cheltenham's Four Fabulous Festivals... Jazz, Science, Music and Literature
Although it is located on the edge of the Cotswold Hills, Cheltenham is known as the "Centre for the Cotswolds"  and this is certainly true when it comes to staging major cultural events. Cheltenham is the home to four major festivals - jazz, music, science and literature - which take place throughout the year. Run by the Cheltenham Festivals charity, they have combined annual ticket sales of more than 200,000. Cheltenham Jazz Festival, formed in 1996, takes place in a tented village in the town's Montpellier Gardens, in…
70. Snowshill Manor
Snowshill Manor, near Broadway, is a Cotswold manor house packed with thousands of items collected by just one man. Charles Paget Wade started collecting at the age of seven and eventually built up a collection of more than 22,000 items, which included furniture, musical instruments, toys and paintings, not to mention 26 suits of Japanese Samurai armour. Having purchased the estate at Snowshill in 1919, Wade restored the Manor House and laid out the gardens from 1920 to 1923. He housed the collection in the Manor, choosing…
71. The "grandest churchyard in England" with (just over) 99 yew trees
The churchyard of St Mary's Church in the Cotswold village of Painswick was described by the renowned historian Alec Clifton-Taylor as "the grandest churchyard in England" with its famous tombs and yew trees. Often referred to as "The Queen of the Cotswolds", Painswick's narrow streets and traditional architecture make it the epitome of the English village Legend suggests that there are just 99 yew trees growing in Painswick churchyard and that the devil would destroy the hundredth if it were ever planted. In the year 2000 St Mary's…
72. New Brewery Arts, Cirencester
New Brewery Arts in Cirencester has been a centre for the arts and artistic crafts for more than 30 years. The former Victorian brewery building was set for demolition in the 1970s until a local group proposed repair and conversion into craft workshops instead and Cirencester Workshops opened in 1979. Subsequently, following a bequest, the former barrel store was converted in 1984 into educational studios surrounding a theatre (the Niccol Centre). Brewery Arts was formed in 1989 from the merger of Cirencester Workshops and the Niccol Centre. Following…
73. Lodge Park and the Sherborne Estate
Nestled in the Cotswold countryside on the picturesque Sherborne Estate, Lodge Park is England’s only surviving and probably most opulent 17th Century grandstand. It was purpose-built in 1634 by John ‘Crump’ Dutton as an observation post for deer coursing and for lavish entertainment. In 1726 renowned landscape designer Charles Bridgeman redesigned the parkland at Lodge Park which is situated near the Cotswold villages of Sherborne and Aldsworth, and the market town of Northleach. In the 19th Century Lodge Park was modified into a house, then a row of…
74. The Wilson Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum
The Wilson, Cheltenham's newly extended and renamed Art Gallery & Museum reopened it doors to the public in October 2013 with a transformational development costing about £6.3 million. The building in Clarence Street has four new floors which house a gallery dedicated to The Wilson's extensive fine art collections, and two superb exhibition galleries for showing national and international touring shows. Gallery space is also dedicated to the internationally renowned Arts & Crafts Movement, which was rooted in the Cotswolds. Temporary exhibition spaces are filled with varied programming…
75. Cleeve Hill & Common
At 1,083 feet, Cleeve Hill and Common is the highest point of the Cotswolds and in the county of Gloucestershire. The site, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, lies at the top of the Cotswold scarp and is within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It is important for its extensive area of limestone grassland, as well as its many geological and landscape features. It contains a wealth of archaeological interest, including three scheduled monuments. Cleeve is Gloucestershire’s largest common, with an area of…
76. The Cotswold Show, Cirencester
The Cotswold Show, which takes place each year at Cirencester Park over a weekend in the middle of the English summer, has been going for over 25 years and has grown to become one of the most popular country shows in the calendar. Attracting about 40,000 visitors over two days, The Cotswold Show is held at the ancestral seat of Lord Bathurst and it brings together countryside pursuits, family entertainment and a fun day out for all ages. The event started in 1989 under the brand name…
77. Golf in the Cotswolds
There are some beautiful golf courses in the Cotswolds, from 18-hole championship courses to pay and play. Here's the Loving the Cotswolds' round-up of the best courses in the area: Minchinhampton Golf Club, near Stroud, was founded in 1889 and is one of the oldest clubs in the Cotswolds. It now comprises three golf courses, each of quite different character. Way "up north" in the Cotswolds is Broadway Golf Club, another long-established club, having been founded in 1895. Situated at Willersey Hill, the course offers superb views over the…
78. Cirencester Park
Cirencester Park, home to the Bathurst family, is just a short walk from Cirencester town centre and boasts some of the most stunning vistas in England. One of the main secrets of this historic parkland is the fact that the estate has remained within the same family for over 300 years, which has helped maintained continuity in values and personal vision. The estate, which was purchased by Sir Benjamin Bathurst in 1695, was formerly known as Oakley Grove. When Sir Benjamin died in 1704, his son Allen…
79. Cotswolds Rural Skills
In the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), traditional skills such as dry-stone walling, hedgelaying and woodland coppicing have played an important role in moulding the distinctive and unique landscape that we see around us today. Unfortunately, the significant change in land management practices over the past century has resulted in many of these features being left neglected and falling into disrepair. The Cotswolds Rural Skills website aims to promote rural skills and crafts courses run in the Cotswolds by community groups, organisations, charities and colleges.…
80. Open-air swimming pools
People in both the north and the south of the Cotswolds are fortunate to have access to lovely open-air swimming pools during the summer months. Cirencester Open Air Swimming Pool, built in 1869, is Britain's oldest open air swimming pool and is unique in that it offers the chance to swim in natural spring water heated to an average 27°C (80°F). Located on the edge of Cirencester Park, there is a 28-metre main pool with slide and a separate children's paddling pool, along with a sunbathing patio.…
81. Point-to-Point Racing
As well as being a major centre for the horse racing world, the Cotswolds is a popular centre for point-to-point, a form of amateur horse racing over fences for hunting horses. In Ireland, many of the horses will appear in these races before they compete in National Hunt races either in Ireland or in the UK. In contrast, in England and Wales horses running in point-to-points are more likely to be at the end of their National Hunt careers. Some of the most popular meetings are organised each…
82. Hailes Abbey
The Cistercian abbey of Hailes, two miles north-east of Winchcombe, was founded in 1246 by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, called "King of the Romans" and the younger brother of King Henry III of England. Richard founded the abbey to thank God, after he had survived a shipwreck. Richard had been granted the manor of Hailes by King Henry, and settled it with Cistercian monks from Beaulieu Abbey in Hampshire. The great Cistercian abbey was entirely built in a single campaign in 1277, and was consecrated in a…
83. Markets in the Cotswolds
Every major town in the Cotswolds has its own market, be it a weekly retail market, farmers market or WI country market run by the local women's institute. Farmers markets are great places to chat to producers and pick up fresh, local fare. They tend to offer outstanding food at exceptional value, usually all locally grown, produced or reared and almost always organic. There are many producers whose food can only be bought in local markets and small shops.  Retail markets are great of finding bargains and unusual…
84. Fishing in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is blessed with some wonderful places to fish, many of them in stunning locations. Bibury Trout Farm, six miles north-east of Cirencester, is one of Britain’s oldest and most attractive trout farms in the centre of what has been described as "the most beautiful village in England". The trout farm was founded in 1902 by the naturalist Arthur Severn to stock local rivers and streams with the native brown trout. It now covers 15 acres in one of the most beautiful valleys in the…
85. Music Festivals in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds can boast a wide variety of music festivals to appeal to all tastes, from rock music to jazz and classical. In recent years there has been a growth in both the number and the quality of festivals which draw thousands of visitors to the Cotswolds each year, as well as providing residents with some outstanding music right on their doorstep. Two of the biggest Cotswold music festivals - Cornbury Music Festival at Great Tew, and The Big Feastival at Kingham - have their own entries in our list…
86. Arts Festivals in the Cotswolds
Each year a number of towns and larger villages in the Cotswolds host arts festivals which draw visitors from near and far and provide visitors with a huge variety of creative work to admire and enjoy. One of the first arts festivals in the calendar is in the town of Wotton-under-Edge in the southern end of the Cotswolds. The 2015 Wotton Arts Festival, which took place in late April and early May, was the town's 45th such festival celebrating the arts in Wotton and the surrounding area, with…
87. Food & Drink Festivals in the Cotswolds
Food & drink festivals have become increasingly popular events across the UK in recent years and the Cotswolds is no exception, with its rich farming heritage and so many great places to host indoor and outdoor festivals. A few years ago, the Chipping Campden area saw the birth of BITE, which started life as a week-long food festival but has now spread its wings with events across the Cotswolds and beyond. Two popular food & drink festivals are held in two nearby south Cotswold towns in the early summer. Fairford Food &…
88. Broadway Activity Park
The Cotswold village of Broadway may be famous for its beautiful High Street and its top class hotels, restaurants and shops, but it now also has a state-of-the-art children's playground that is regarded by locals as the best in the area - and it doesn't cost a penny to use. Broadway Activity Park opened in 2009 following a £300,000 revamp of the village's three-acre recreation ground, situated down a path half-way up the High Street. The activity park boasts three zones equipped for toddlers, juniors and teenagers.…
89. Cycling in the Cotswolds
Cycling is a great way to explore the wonderful scenery and appreciate the distinctive character of the Cotswolds. Britain’s largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers a fantastic opportunity for cycling.  Routes range from the gentler slopes of the south Cotswolds to the sharper escarpments of the north, giving every level of cyclist a chance to enjoy the extensive network of tracks and lanes. An extensive network of country lanes link well-known Cotswold villages and market towns and there is a tremendous choice of routes with an ever-changing view. There…
90. Horse riding in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds offer wonderful riding country and there are many equestrian centres dotted around with many places offering horse riding days out and plenty of routes to follow. Riding is a very popular pastime in the Cotswold Water Park, in the southern Cotswolds, with some excellent bridlepaths, lanes and rides, and easy access from nearby car parks. The long distance riding route the Sabrina Way runs through the Cotswolds, from Gotherington, north of Cheltenham, to Great Barrington, near Burford in Oxfordshire, where it joins with another riding route,…
91. Taking to the skies over the Cotswolds
One of the best ways to admire the true beauty of the Cotswolds is from the air and there are some great options for doing so, be it in a hot air balloon, glider, light aircraft or helicopter. Here are a few of the options available to adventurous people looking to get an aerial view of the Cotswolds: Ballooning in the Cotswolds has been offering Champagne hot air balloon flights over the Cotswolds since 1985. With launch sites at Cirencester, Stroud, Bourton-on-the-Water, Cheltenham and Gloucester, the company flies…
92. Bisley Well Dressing
In the village of Bisley, near Stroud, an Ascension Day tradition dating back to 1863 is carried out each year by senior pupils from Bisley Blue Coat School. Dressed in period costume, the pupils, carrying floral displays, process through the streets of Bisley to the accompaniment of a silver band and dress the wells to give thanks for the village's clean water. The wells - seven water chutes underneath the slope below All Saints Church -  were restored in 1863 at the instance of the Reverend Thomas…
93. Drinking in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds really does have it all for anyone who enjoys a drink. Not only are there scores of great pubs across the area, but the area is also home to a number of breweries, while drinkers can indulge their passion at various beer festivals held throughout the year. With so many wonderful pubs dotted around the beautiful towns and villages of the Cotswolds, it would be wrong to single any out because they all possess their individual character and charm. However, it must be mentioned that among all the…
94. Museum in the Park, Stroud
Set in the beautiful grounds of Stratford Park in Stroud, The Museum in the Park is based in a Grade II listed 17th Century wool merchant’s mansion house and tells the fascinating story of the Stroud District’s rich and diverse history. With over 4,000 objects on display, including dinosaur bones, historical paintings and even one of the world’s first lawnmowers, there is something to spark the interest of everyone. Many of the museum's rooms contain interactives and toys, and some even sport peep holes into the cabinets…
95. Cotswold Canals and their restoration
Two separate waterways (collectively known as the 'Cotswold Canals') once linked England's two greatest rivers - the Thames and the Severn.   The Stroudwater Navigation, to the west of Stroud, was opened in 1779 to connect the town to the River Severn. Ten years later, the Thames & Severn Canal extended this route to Lechlade on the Thames - a 36-mile cross-country route.   The waterway climbed up from the Severn Plain by many locks through the picturesque Golden Valley to the famous Sapperton Tunnel which, at over two…
96. Prescott Hill Climb
Prescott Hill Climb is based in glorious Cotswold countryside a few miles from Cheltenham and is home to one of the world's most prestigious motor racing venues. The Prescott Estate, covering approximately 60 acres, is situated off the A435 between Gotherington and Gretton. Not only does it provide a beautiful setting for a range of classic car and bike weekends, but it also hosts major motor racing championships. During summer weekends ‘the hill’ is alive to the sound of Bugattis, MGs, Morgans, GT40s and many other names of…
97. Chavenage House, Tetbury
Chavenage House, an Elizabethan era manor house near Tetbury that is steeped in history and a ghostly legend, has become one of the most popular television and film locations in the Cotswolds. Situated a mile-and-a-half northwest of Tetbury, Chavenage has many Civil War associations, including the tapestry-lined rooms that were stayed in by Oliver Cromwell and his second-in-command, General Ireton, in 1648. The "Legend of Chavenage" revolves around the story of Col Nathaniel Stephens MP, the Lord of the Manor during the Civil War, being cursed by…
98. Sezincote House & Garden
Sezincote is a unique and extraordinary Indian house set amidst the Cotswold Hills a few miles from Moreton-in-Marsh. Sezincote is mentioned in the Domesday Book and the independent parish of Sezincote was small but did have its own church, near to the present tennis court, until it was razed to the ground by Parliamentary troops during the English Civil War.  Sezincote House was built in 1810 by Charles Cockerell, a Member of Parliament for Evesham, who had worked in India, assisted by his brother, the architect Samuel…
99. "The Chippy Panto"
The Theatre Chipping Norton, which was opened in 1975 in an old Salvation Army citadel in Spring Street, hosts a wealth of events throughout the year. But its greatest claim to fame is its world-renowned traditional family pantomime, which draws on a long history of traditional values, top-notch creative teams, and original, daring twists to make it an irreplaceable part of countless family Christmases. Indeed, it's often been said that "Christmas just isn't Christmas until you've been to the Chippy Panto".   Over the years, the Chippy Panto has…
100. Bourton-on-the-Water's Christmas tree in the River Windrush
The Cotswolds can be a winter wonderland and the magic of a snow-covered Bourton-on-the-Water is always a possibility. One of the Bourton's seasonal attractions is the Christmas tree which the Chamber of Commerce puts in the River Windrush in the centre of the village each year. The profusion of lights reflects in the rippling water creating a scene never to be forgotten.   The tree is illuminated from December 1 to January 5, but the official switching on celebrations are held at 6pm on the first Friday of December, the date of Bourton-on-the-Water's Christmas late night…
© Loving The Cotswolds. 2017.