No one’s sure what the name means, but ‘wolds’ are rolling hills, while ‘cots’ might be ‘cotes’, or sheep pens. The region owes its wealth and exquisite architecture to the medieval wool trade, when ‘Cotswold Lion’ sheep were prized across Europe. Attentions later turned towards textiles instead, but the Industrial Revolution passed the Cotswolds by. Hailed by William Morris in the 19th century as encapsulating a timeless English rural idyll, it remains both a prime residential area and a treasured tourist destination.
Criss-crossed by long-distance trails including the 102-mile Cotswold Way, these gentle yet dramatic hills are perfect for walking, cycling and horse riding.
Beautiful medieval churches, built on the riches from the Cotswolds’ thriving wool trade, are dotted across the regions. Almost every town and village boasts its own so-called ‘wool church’, typically featuring a soaring Perpendicular Gothic tower, fine stained-glass windows and an elaborately carved interior.
Famous for a sustainable, locally sourced approach to cooking, the Cotswolds host some fabulous places to eat. Organic produce, seasonal ingredients and farm-to-table cooking inform most dishes, from delectable cafe breakfasts and gastro-pub feasts to Michelin-starred delights. You'll find organic delis, farmers markets and oh-so-English tearooms at every turn. It’s always advisable to book ahead, especially for upmarket restaurants but also for the best-known pubs, which attract diners from miles around.
Walk or biking
distance to a small village
from most parts of UK
The region has a temperate maritime climate with typically warm rather than hot summers and cool to cold winters. The Cotswolds rarely experiences very extreme weather, meaning that it can be visited throughout the year.
Because of its central location, the Cotswolds are easily accessible by car from all major UK cities. You can also take the train to Oxford or Birmingham and find local arrangements for the last mile.
August makes a lot of sense for me and my family. I go to both ski and beach holidays every year and could not decide whether I should get a summer house or a flat in the Alps. Now I’ll get both!
Away from the main roads, the winding lanes of the Cotswolds make fantastic cycling territory.
The 102-mile Cotswold Way gives walkers a wonderful overview of the region and passes through some lovely countryside, linking ancient sites and tiny villages.
Other long-distance trails that pass through the Cotswolds include the 100-mile Gloucestershire Way, which runs from Chepstow to Tewkesbury via Stow-on-the-Wold.
The Manor House Golf Club bordering the village of Castle Combe offers a challenging 18 hole golf course.
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