One of the most unspoiled and beautiful areas in England, the Cotswolds are an expanse of rolling hills that span six counties in the heart of the country. This picturesque area was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966 and is the largest of these protected landscapes in England. With an approximate area of 2,000 square kilometres, the Cotswolds are one of the most popular destinations in England and offer many scenic delights for travellers in this region as well as exclusive entertainments and activities for visitors to enjoy on short breaks throughout the countryside.
Enjoy the outdoors
Nature lovers can explore public areas of the old-growth beech forests in the Cotswolds or learn more about the endangered wildlife and plants that grow only in this area of England. A rare modern example of coppicing in a woodland environment can be found in Siccaridge Wood, which also serves as home to muntjac deer and a healthy dormouse population. The nearby Daneway Banks nature reserve is an ideal place to spot large blue butterflies, which were reintroduced into the area after being lost to England several decades ago. Accommodations in the immediate area are concentrated in the nearby village of Cirencester and include some of the most affordable Cotswolds hotels as well as many bed and breakfast and cottages to let in the area.
History buffs will find much of interest to see and do in the Cotswolds as well. Cirencester is home to the Corinium Museum, an outstanding collection of antiquities and artefacts dating back to the Roman Era that includes a full-scale reproduction of a typical town in Roman Britain. Mystically inclined historians may want to take a side trip to the Rollright Stones, considered to be the third most important of the ubiquitous English stone circles. Legend has it that no visitor can count the same number of stones in the circle twice in a row. For literary minded visitors, Shakespeare’s birthplace is located in picturesque Stratford-on-Avon and is open to the public for tours, while historic Lansdown Hill was the site of one of the most crucial battles of the English Civil War.
Family weekends away
The Gloucester Cathedral dominates the skyline of this ancient city and is notable as the final resting place of both Robert Duke of Normandy and King Edward II. For children of all ages, however, the Gloucester Cathedral will be instantly recognised as the setting for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies, making this a must-see for families. Birdland is located at scenic Bourton-on-the-Water and features seven acres of unspoiled natural woodland along with special habitats for birds not native to the area. Penguins and flamingos are among the avian attractions on display at this bird sanctuary, which also features a cafe and several play areas for children. For more animal-themed excitement, families can opt for the West Midland Safari and Leisure Park with a unique drive-through experience that allows close observation of giraffes, tigers, rhinos and other exotic animals. Water rides and coasters are also available for even more family fun.
Accommodations in the Cotswolds
Cotswolds hotels are located near most major tourist attractions and nature preserves. Accommodations range from rustic cottages and bed and breakfast arrangements to full-service Cotswolds hotels and inns designed with luxury in mind. No matter what the budget or accommodation requirements, the Cotswolds offers exceptional value and a wealth of options for an unforgettable weekend away.
Author: Jack Oldham