The Cotswolds open expanse means it’s just a stone’s throw from Bath, Gloucester, Warwick and Swindon - as well as London.
The Cotswolds stone is its symbol; from the limestone ridge that gives us those views from the Cotswold hills, to its mellow yellow cottages.
These full and frank independent Cotswolds holidays reviews are from travellers who have booked directly through our-land.co.uk. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travellers below.
You can trust our-land.co.uk reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays. In addition, we don't run these holidays ourselves - our only interest is giving you the best independent advice.
Always a fan of the old and the quirky, Sarah’s favourite Cotswolds holidays include an old ale house from £22.50 per night for two, a 17C former farmhouse from £35 per person, a converted railway building from £40 per person, another converted pub from £68 per night for two, and a traditional Cotswolds stone cottage from £80 for two.
All of the B&Bs have been chosen for their commitment to conserving the much loved features of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – so they’re not just cheap but good for our lovely countryside, too.
Wonderful walks through picturesque Cotswolds villages
The Cotswolds has an unrivalled network of walking trails through scenic landscapes, hidden valleys and picturesque villages. For your Cotswolds holiday, stroll along the cobbled streets, wander over pretty bridges and listen to the gushing streams, before stopping off for a hearty lunch and glass of real ale at a traditional Cotswolds pub like The Feathered Nest. You can walk all or part of the 102-mile Cotswold Way National Trail which takes in amazing views, historic sites and an array of other attractions. Sort your accommodation, luggage transfer and route information out all in one go by booking yourself onto a Cotswolds walking break. The owners will direct you through relaxed valleys and past grazing sheep to the Neolithic burial chamber at Belas Knap, where the remains of 31 ancient bodies were found.
Inspiring cycle routes through the Cotswolds rolling farmland
It is easy to hire bicycles during your Cotswolds holidays and to navigate your way through the beautiful English villages and rolling country lanes. If you don’t want the hassle of booking accommodation, planning your routes and transferring your luggage then book yourself onto a Cotswold cycling holiday. You can customise your route through the beautiful Cotswold countryside, complete with sweeping views, hidden hamlets and traditional inns like the Old Swan. If you want to take your time meandering through the picturesque villages, there are plenty of holiday cottages available with bicycle storage space and owners who are more than willing to point you towards their favourite trails.
Trot through your Cotswold Holiday on horseback with horse riding lessons and pony trekking
There are plenty of things to do in Cotswolds to get your limbs moving but if you are looking for a more gentle way to explore the countryside you can trot through your Cotswold holiday on horseback. Horse riding classes at the Dursley centre offer a range of activities to suit any ability – from beginners to competition riders. Spend your time capering over the hillside and exploring the winding country lanes that connect quaint limestone cottages and ancient churches. There’s a great network of bridle ways, including the long distance Sabrina Way.
Two of the most impressive sites to visit during your Cotswolds holidays are: Sudeley Castle and Blenheim Palace. Sudeley Castle built in the 15th Century is ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’, perched on the hillside and ornamented by towering trees. You can take tours of the castle, which was the final resting place of Tudor Queen Katherine of Parr and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Brock the Badger, an intimidating former family pet! Bleinham Palace was the birth-place of Sir Winston Churchill and it has a stunning collection of award-winning formal gardens. Take time to explore the enchanting Secret Garden, the sweet-smelling Rose Garden and the calming Water Terraces. The Victorian Industrial Museum in Coombe is at the other end of the scale but of equal important to the character of the landscape. Of course, if you really want to experience Cotswolds heritage on your holiday, have a look at some of Our Land’s historic Cotswolds B&Bs, from a 250 year old Blacksmith’s cottage, an old Victorian school, and 15th Century Farmhouse. Other historic places to visit include:
The Cotswolds Lion and other Cotswolds wildlife to spot on your holiday
The Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has beautiful nature reserves for you to visit during your Cotswolds holidays from flower-filled meadows to tranquil lakes, where you will have the chance to spot glow worms, bats and otters. During your Cotswolds holiday look out for the animal the landscape is most famous for – the Cotswold Lion – not quite ferocious beasts, these lions are large, docile sheep with long golden fleeces. Their wool was the main source of income for the Cotswolds in the medieval period, the profits of which led to merchants commissioning some of the stunning houses in the area, but by the end of WW1 they had fallen from popularity and only a few flocks remained. The Cotswolds are now involved in a conservational project to protect this rare species and thanks to the efforts of volunteers there are now more than 50 flocks living on the landscape.
Of course, if you really want to get up close and personal to the wonderful array of Cotswolds wildlife on your holiday, rest your head at one of these Cotswolds farmstays, Cotswolds campsites, or one of these more unusual Cotswolds holidays including yurts, tipis and huts.
The post Cotswolds Holidays – Things to see and do in the Cotswolds appeared first on Our Land.
Scenic Picnic Spots for your Cotswold Holiday
Picnics have been enjoyed throughout the centuries on the Cotswolds landscape – from medieval hunting feasts to Victorian garden parties. Pack your own picnic hamper by visiting one of the local food shops dotted around the towns and villages, where you can pick up home-made chutneys, freshly-baked bread and locally-brewed ales. Here are a few of the best spots to stop off for a picnic:
Traditional Cotswolds Pubs and Restaurants
When you want some traditional British grub and seasonal drinks, stopping off in a Cotswolds pub or restaurant allows you to recharge your batteries after a day spent exploring the countryside. Here are a few of Our Land’s favourite eateries:
Historic Wool Industry and Shaggy Cotswolds Lions
The Cotswolds is a landscape rich in history. The Golden Age for the Cotswolds came with the growth of the wool trade in the late Middle Ages. The landscape was famed throughout Europe for having some of the best wool. Huge flocks of woolly Cotswolds ‘Lions’ were raised in the monasteries and abbeys. You can still spot Cotswolds Lions today on your holiday to the landscape. Not quite ferocious beasts, these lions are docile creatures with beautiful long golden fleeces. These wonderful animals fell from popularity by the end of WW1 but the Cotswolds are involved in a conservation project to protect this rare breed and thanks to the efforts of volunteers there are now more than 50 flocks living on the landscape!
Although the Cotswolds is no longer a leader in the wool industry you can still see how it has left its mark on the rolling landscape. The merchants who became rich by selling Cotswolds wool used their money to build and enlarge lavish wool churches and create magnificent manor houses for themselves. Many of these building are still standing – the best examples of the huge towering churches can be found in the pretty villages of Winchcombe, Chipping Campden, Northleach , Cirencester and Fairford.
Important Roman Heritage
The Romans arrived on the Cotswolds landscape in AD47 and left an important impression behind them. The remains of villas and other settlements have been discovered throughout the towns and cities, but the most lasting influence is that of the Roman Roads – the most prominent is the winding Fosse Way which runs the whole length of the Cotswolds between Bath and Moreton-in-Marsh Moreton-in-Marsh on its route from Exeter to Lincoln. During your holiday in the Cotswolds landscape, be sure to stop of in the historic city of Cirencester. Cirencester was the second largest town in Roman Britain and the award-winning Corinium Museum has a fantastic interactive display telling the story of Roman life in the Cotswolds. If you walk to the outskirts of the city you can see the clear outlines of an impressive Roman Amphitheatre as well as the fascinating site of Chedworth Roman Villa which has some beautifully preserved mosaics, bathhouses and latrines – transporting you back to Roman life!
Honey-coloured Limestone Architecture
During their time on the Cotswolds landscape the Romans discovered the honey-coloured limestone which is some of the most beautiful building material to be found anywhere in the world. The limestone was formed in the Jurassic period, around 150 million years a go, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and the sea still covered the ancient landscape. When the Romans discovered this distinctive stone they began building with it all over the landscape, giving the villages and cities in the Cotwolds a distinctive charm that won’t be seen elsewhere. On your walks around the landscape you will see this beautiful honey-coloured stone dotted around the market towns but to view one of the greatest examples of this fine architecture make sure you spend a day with your loved ones at Blenheim Palace - the magnificent childhood home of Winston Churchill.
Impressive Dry Stone Walls
The craft of dry stone wall building began 5,000 years ago in the Stone Age and during your Cotswolds holidays you can still visit an ancient example of it at the site of a Neolithic long barrow in Belas Knap near Winchcombe. The main period of stone wall production in the Cotswolds was in the 18th and 19th centuries when there was plenty of stone readily available and so most of the walls that remain on the landscape were constructed around 200 years ago. The traditional skill lays the stone in such a way that no earth or cement is used, meaning air can get through and the walls remain dry. This special technique means that walls can survive for hundreds of years with very little attention attention and provide an important habitat for many different wildlife.
There are over 6,000 km of stone walls in the Cotswolds which is almost the length of the Great Wall of China! The Cotswolds Conservation Board is working hard to make sure that these walls do not fall into disrepair. You can get involved with restoring and creating dry stone walls on the landscape which will remain there for hundreds of years to come. Spending a weekend on a dry stone walling course allows you to discover the technique and history of this special skill. You will learn all about stone sorting, laying foundations, adding stones and using the traditional tools.
Meet Sarah Loftus, Our Land’s Project Co-ordinator
“A firm believer in tourism being a force for good – as long as we get it right!”
I’m Our Land’s project co-ordinator, working for the nine protected landscapes that make up Our Land. I was previously working for the Kent Downs AONB (and this is where I hale from) but before that spent 20 years in the hotel industry and then business travel sector. Through my work I’ve travelled extensively and seen the detrimental effects tourism can have when we get it totally wrong! What is so great about Our Land is its focus on landscape – putting it right at the heart of the visitor experience – usually the very reason why we are staying in that b&b, hotel or self-catering. The business owners we work with love their place and take great pride in sharing it.
Getting to and around the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
When you are tired after a long day at work - or from chasing the kids around getting them packed and ready to go – you can take the pressure off your journey by letting someone else drive for you. You can sit back and relax – enjoy the scenic journey and spend the time chatting with your loved ones, instead of worrying about rush hour traffic, road closures or motorway accidents. You can even have a cheeky drink or two to celebrate the start of your holiday!
Most Cotswolds B&B owners will pick you up from the station, bike hire or even horse riding is easy, and best of all, there’s a Cotswolds Discoverer Ticket at the moment from just £1o per person (details below).
Getting to the Cotswolds …..
Getting around the Cotswolds …..
It is easy to explore the Cotswolds by bus and train. Click on the links below for information on rail and bus timetables in the Cotswolds.
Cotswolds Discoverer Ticket for bus/train – from just £10 per day
Travelling to and around the Cotswolds is now even easier with the new Cotswolds Discoverer ticket – an integrated bus/rail ticket allowing you unlimited travel from just £10 per day. For further details: www.escapetothecotswolds.org.uk/discoverer
Cotswolds by bike
You can travel around the Cotswolds easily by bike. The area is full of quiet country lanes and off-road cycle routes that will lead you to attractive villages and traditional pubs. Click on the links below for examples of cycle routes.