A guide to holidays in the Cotswolds
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You’ve chosen the perfect Cotswold cottage, now how do you spend your time? From bird-spotting and cycling, to culture and retail therapy, Lynn Ede says you’re ideally located for the myriad things to see and do to fill your days
The Cotswolds is a golden gem in the English countryside. A desirable place to live, its inhabitants recognise and appreciate its beauty, they include many celebrities and royalty in addition to it being a holiday destination of choice.
The area bursts at the borders with things to do, once you have found your holiday cottage and want to venture out for some day trips. The countryside available is vast, looks stunning and is begging to be explored, literally surrounding you for walks on the Cotswold Way, and there are also many cycle paths to go off exploring that could keep you busy for many a mile.
The villages in the Cotswolds are well documented for their beauty, such as Broadway, Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, Moreton-in-Marsh, and Lower Slaughter, to mention a few and are as delightful as their names suggest. The beauty of the region is that nothing is too far away. Stratford-upon-Avon is but a short drive away from most of the villages, where you can enjoy a Shakespearean history fix.
In Cotswold towns such as Cheltenham, Cirencester, Gloucester, Worcester, Tewkesbury, you will find heaps of historical facts, monuments, theatres, churches and museums. If shopping is your bag, head for Bicester Shopping Village for designer bargains, but all over the Cotswolds you will find high-end retail therapy juxtaposed with High Street essentials and a trip to Birmingham by rail is a mere 50 minutes for a city stop. Head out west for Georgian Bath; a superb place for shopping and a foray into Jane Austen mode if you fancy a bit of play acting with a Darcy.
Heading into the thick of the Forest of Dean is a full day out or more with a whole host of activities, from sporting to wildlife. Birdwatchers will be happy to know there is also a choice of Birdland in Bourton-on-the-Water and The International Centre for Birds of Prey at Newent.
Going further south and near Cirencester in this area of outstanding natural beauty we call home, you will find some 150 lakes set in 40 square miles. Indulge in a spot of windsurfing, angling, archery and you can tee off at numerous golf clubs in the region too. Getting fit in the Cotswolds is an easy thing if you are of that frame of mind; the possibilities are endless.
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A farm visit is always fun and educational for all the family and you can pop in to TV personality and Cotswold Life columnist Adam Henson’s farm at Cotswold Farm Park. Take a wildlife walk, meet the farmyard animals and take in some Milking and Shearing demonstrations, maybe even bottle-feed a lamb.
Snowshill (National Trust) lavender fields are a spectacular sight, with acres of purple to wander through, scented gifts to buy in the shop, and a visit to the Manor House reveals quirky collections by Charles Wade, ranging from musical instruments to toys and armour.
Equestrian delights are numerous. Get involved or watch events at Blenheim Palace, Badminton Trials, Cirencester Polo, Gatcombe. If you fancy a flutter, horseracing opportunities are rich in the area, with meetings at Cheltenham, Worcester, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick.
That’s just for starters, here are some helpful websites to find additional ideas: