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The Cotswolds [1] refers to a region of gentle hill country in south central England, the main range reaching 300 m (1000 ft) in altitude at its highest. The Cotswolds lie across the boundaries of several traditional English counties: Gloucestershire enjoys by far the largest portion of the region; the county shares this honour significantly with Oxfordshire and south Warwickshire, and to a lesser extent with Wiltshire, Somerset and Worcestershire.

Officially designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966, in recognition of their unique appeal and the beauty of its predominantly rural landscapes, the Cotswolds are known worldwide for their stone-built villages, historical towns, and stately homes and gardens. Many consider the Cotswolds as representative of the archetypal English landscape, within easy striking distance of London and several other English urban centres.



The Cotswolds run generally south-west to north-east, the northern and western edges marked by steep escarpments down to the valleys of the rivers Severn and Avon and the city of Gloucester, the eastern boundary by the city of Oxford (the university "city of dreaming spires"), the west by Stroud, and the south by the middle reaches of the Thames Valley and towns such as Cirencester, Lechlade and Fairford. Key physical features of the area, including the characteristic uplift of the 'Cotswold Edge' can be clearly seen as far south as Bath.

The Cotswolds characterised by attractive small towns and villages built of the underlying rock, known as "Cotswold Stone" (actually, a yellow oolitic limestone).


During the Middle Ages, the Cotswolds became prosperous from the wool trade with the Continent. Much of this wealth was directed towards the building of churches, the area still preserving a large number of large, handsome Cotswold Stone "wool churches". The area remains affluent and has attracted wealthy Londoners and others who own second homes in the area or have chosen to retire to the Cotswolds.

Typical Cotswold towns are Broadway, Burford, Chipping Norton, Cirencester, Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold. The Cotswold village of Chipping Campden is notable for being the home of the Arts and Crafts movement, founded by William Morris at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. William Morris lived, occasionally, in Broadway Tower a folly now in country park.



Other destinations


  • Adlestrop - the village associated with the evocative Edward Thomas poem

Historical Houses

The Cotswolds are home to a number of important historical houses, often set in their own estates and therefore not part of any particular town or village...

  • Chastleton House [2] - maintained by the National Trust since 1991, when it was acquired from the last representative of the family who had owned the house since it was first built. Chastleton House is one of England’s finest and most complete Jacobean houses, filled not only with a mixture of rare and everyday objects, furniture and textiles collected since its completion in 1612, but also with the atmosphere of 400 years of continuous occupation by one family. The gardens have a typical Elizabethan and Jacobean layout with a ring of fascinating topiary at their heart and it was here in 1865 that the rules of modern croquet were codified. Since acquiring the property, the Trust has concentrated on conserving it rather than restoring it to a pristine state.


Cotswold Water Park, [3]. Great Britain's largest water park consists of 133 lakes which were formed by filling old gravel quarries. It is located about five miles south of Cirencester in the centre of England and offers many water sports and activities.


Although this is central England, you may find locals speak with a heavy Gloucestershire accent.

Get in

Stroud, Stonehouse, Gloucester and Cheltenham all have train stations. Stage coach has buses from different areas of the country (cheaper, but longer than the trains).

As you'll find all over Great Britain the cost of public transport is high (compared to mainland Europe, Asia, Africa, etc...).

Move this to Great Britain? Note: It is possible to buy a Young Person's Railcard if you're planning to spend much time in the UK. This gives you 1/3 off, but it costs about £15, so it might not be worth it. These can be bought from any Train station ticket office. You'll need a passport photo.

Get around


Trains do exist between some main towns, but the trainline from Cirencester was axed 30 years ago.


As Bill Bryson said, this is the only option to see the Cotswolds. He was probably right.

Note: Take care on commons of the cows (they stand/lie in the roads at night time).


The bus services in the cotswolds are painfully useless. Many villages will only get one bus a day, or some only one bus a week. Even large towns, such as Cirencester and Stroud only get one bus every hour.


  • The weekly farmers market in Stroud
  • Cotswold wildlife park [4]


  • Walking in the cotswold hills (what should this section be called?)
  • Watersports (Dragon boat racing!!) at the Cotswold Water Park.
  • Enjoying a pint at one of the areas excellent pubs!



Stay safe

The area is very safe, with little crime. (The headlines of the local news paper a few months ago read "Butterfly found in carpark").

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