The Cotswolds and its Visitor Attractions
The Cotswolds are situated in South West England and cover a number of counties including Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. It spans almost 800 square miles and is the largest designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the United Kingdom.
The landscape largely consists of rolling hills, water meadows and picturesque river-valleys, occasionally punctuated by sleepy hamlets. Other picturesque features of this region include The Windrush, Coln and Evenlode Streams, which meander through the countryside, past quaint little towns such as Stow-on-the-Wold and Eynsham and then on towards the great River Thames.
One of the most inspiring ways of taking in such a wonderful landscape is by making use of the Cotswold Way - a 100 mile trail that runs between Chipping Campden and Bath. It allows visitors to truly appreciate these varied and inspiring countryside settings. Beechwood trees grow in abundance around this part of the world and provide a colourful backdrop to the attractive surroundings.
Scattered around the Cotswolds region are a number of historic villages such as Bourton-on-the-Water, which consists of low bridges and historical Cotswold stone houses - it is one of the most idyllic settings in the Cotswolds. Chipping Campden is one of the oldest and nestles in the hills. It has a 15th Century church as well a Jacobean market hall.
Other historical towns include the Elizabethan market town Tetbury, famed for its 17th Century town hall and the Chipping Steps and the village of Broadway, with its honey-coloured stone buildings and Norman church.
Nature lovers should visit the award-winning Slimbridge Wetland Center. Located on the shores of the Severn Estuary, the reserve features the biggest collection of ducks, geese and swans in the world. A number of events are held each year including nature walks, workshops and Landrover safaris.
Cycling is a great way of exploring the Cotswolds with hire centres available at a variety of locations. The numerous trails which run throughout the region are ideal for cyclists and enable holiday-makers to get much closer their natural surroundings.
History and Culture
Blenheim Palace is a World Heritage site and was the birthplace of Winston Churchill. It is set in 200 acres of parkland and formal gardens and is considered to be one of the most impressive stately homes in England.
Tewkesbury Abbey is also impressive and is one of the finest Norman Abbeys of its kind. Dating back to the 14th century it features the largest surviving Norman tower and elaborately carved tombs. Admission if free. The Roman Baths Museum in Bath is another World Heritage Site and is a bathing complex with a well-preserved ruined temple.