What is this Cotswolds business, you might wonder, and the answer to that is an area spanning over six counties in the South West of England, full of charming towns, ridiculously picturesque villages and verdant hillsides. And lots of fun – and somewhat odd – things to do.
Colorful Bristol is just around the corner and should you want to pop to the valleys in South Wales and check out some old mines and daffodils, that’s no problem at all. Except for the fact that you might miss the serene, scenic awesomeness that is the Cotswolds.
Disclaimer: we take no responsibility if you want to go so badly that you literally can’t sit still after reading this post!
Pro Tip: You’ll have nearly 800 square miles to explore, so bring shoes and clothes that won’t disappoint!
They’re just beautiful! Small, quaint cottages in a sea of leaves and flowers that will make you doubt your sanity for a second, wondering when and how you stepped into a fairy tale. Or a Grimm story. Those adorable, straw-covered houses can be found in all sorts of folklore, can’t they? As can picturesque stone bridges, winding country roads and rustic iron gates – guess where else you can find that? Yes, in the villages of Cotswolds. Where you can also find cozy pubs, the interior of which matches the gorgeous exterior.
The towns are pretty much as charming, alluring and delightful as the villages, but on a larger scale. Meaning that some buildings are larger, too. Like the cathedral in Gloucester. That’s pretty big. And pretty cool. Why? Because it was only used as a location in the Harry Potter movies. Yeah, really! Slightly less famous but still equally cool (is anyone buying this?) are the oldest public swimming pool in Cirencester and the Screening Rooms – after the cinema has been refurbished – in Cheltenham. It’s hard to compete with that little rascal of a wizard, but these places are doing fairly well.
We mentioned this is a pretty big area, right? Pretty sure we did. Other than the awesomely gorgeous architecture, there are green fields, green hedges and even greener trees – you’ll have fantastic views pretty much wherever you go, but going for a hike might be one of the best ways to see all the farms, the flora and the fauna – at Adam Henson’s Cotswolds Farm Park you can go say hi to some adorable animals! Another way to really experience the area is by bike – there are even downhill tracks for mountain biking near Cheltenham. With a drag lift, can you believe it?!
You didn’t think that was it, did you because it most definitely was not! If you haven’t seen enough of the uniquely beautiful and calm place yet, you might want to have a look from above. How? Oh, just a hot-air balloon. Or some gliding. It’s up to you. Know who else sees things from high up? Birds. And if you like birds, you might want to give Cotswolds Falconry Centre some of your precious time, because here you can have an owl evening or an eagle day, and really get to know all the amazing birds of prey. Hey, you can even adopt one if you want to!
Note: adopt as in sponsor, you can’t take the little thing with you when you leave. Sorry about that.
No, this is not a Netflix classic (yet!) but rather a set of strange but oh-so-fun traditions in the Cotswolds. You might have heard of the cheese rolling, where a poor little Gloucester cheese is being chased down a hill by some vigorous youngsters, and that is still happening. At least the cheese rolling part, due to injuries. Who would have thought? If you’re not around for the cheese, you might catch some cheese, or bread, at the bread and cheese dole, which is exactly what it sounds like. Pieces of food are thrown out to a cheering, excited group of locals dressed up as medieval folks. You don’t make these kinds of awesome things up.
Isn’t food just the best? No? Even better? Okay, I’ll take it. The thing with the lovely Cotswolds is that yummy fruits and vegetables are grown in the area, so it’ll be as fresh and scrumptious as it gets – and the chefs know what to do with the produce, too! Try homely pubs like The Old Elm Inn or go big and fancy by giving Lords of the Manor (located in Upper Slaughter, which bears no relevance at all other than it’s a funny name for a place) a visit. They have delicious food and know how to make a banging afternoon tea. If you don’t want to worry that the Queen might pop in at any moment, try something a bit cozier, like the Pantry Cafe!
Know what goes well with peace and quiet? More peace and quiet. If you really want to relax, both your body and mind, then you’re in luck because the number of spas* in the Cotswolds might be higher than the number of sheep in Wales. Either way, you can find warm, soothing baths both indoors and in the open air – some places really have a history, too! You’ll barely be able to go anywhere without getting an accidental history lesson.
*It definitely is not.
Because, you know, there’s lots of cheese in and around the Cotswolds. There’s also so much fun to be had and things to be done and seen, so if you’ve got some time to spare this would be a great vacation, whether you live nearby or not. Just remember to bring your best medieval frock and an appetite for bread and cheese. See ya there!