The Cotswolds, England

Castle Combe, the Cotswolds, England

Cotswolds  most famous village, Castle Combe in Wiltshire, seen in the movie ‘War Horse’. The double yellow no-parking lines and the lady on the left are probably not Victorian, unlike everything else. Photo by W. Lloyd MacKenzie

Visiting The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are a low range of rural hillsabout 25 miles (40kms) by 90 miles (145 kms) designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and divided among the counties of Somerset, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. The region has been occupied since 4000BC, evidenced by carbon dating of neolithic pottery found in Slaughter.

Sometimes known as ‘The Heart of England’ the Cotswold hills are small (a little over 300m/1000ft) but perfectly formed and studded with pleasant towns and well-preserved old villages inhabited mainly by well-preserved old English folk.

Castle Combe in particular is one of the finest traditional villages in the country.

Cotswolds industry

Since Roman times the Cotswolds have been home to the affluent and the Middle Ages (5th – 15th centuries) were no exception as locals developed a remarkably successful sheep and wool a business that enabled the building of many fine houses, castles and churches, known as wool churches. Since then large scale farming and retirement homes have been the economic mainstay.
The stone seen in most of these photos is yellow Cotswold limestone.
The region is popular for tranquil rambling holidays so short term country homes and independent cottages in pretty towns are available for rent throughout the Cotswolds.

Bourton-on-Water, Cotswolds

Bourton-on-the-Water, River Windrush, Gloucestershire. Photo by W. Lloyd MacKenzie.

Bourton-on-Water Attractions

• a superbly made scale model of the village built in Cotswold stone.

• Cotswold Motoring Museum.

• Birdland Park ( including penguins, flamingoes, and parrots) and Gardens

• a model railway.

• many walking trails start or finish in this village, including the 100 mile (160 kms) ‘Heart of England Way’.

Cirencester, Costwolds

Cirencester. Photo by Bruno Girin

Cirencester was an important Roman town known as Corinium and today houses a Roman museum, the Corinium Museum, with a fine collection of Roman artifacts.
The two largest towns in the Cotswolds are Gloucester and Cheltenham.

Sudeley Castle, Cotswolds

Sudeley Castle, Cotswolds, England

15th century Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire, and its award-winning gardens near Winchcombe. Photo by Gordon Robertson

Cotswold Way

An excellent hiking route offering some terrific views is the Cotswold Way, a 103 mile (165 kms) footpath that runs from Bath to Chipping Campden and visits various sites of interest such as Sudeley castle, Hailes Abbey and Broadway Tower (photos below). This became an official National Trail in 2007.

Broadway Tower, Cotswolds

Broadway Tower, Worcestershire. Pay to enter, but the panoramic views are magnificent. Photo by Newton2.

Broadway Tower provides an outstanding viewpoint over the Cotswolds and situated at 1024 feet (312m) above sea level is the second highest point of the Cotswold range. Located on the Cotswold Way hiking trail, Broadway Tower is a convenient place to start a walk, be it a short circuit or long hike. There is ample car parking for patrons of Broadway Tower and refreshments inside.

Chedworth Roman Villa

Chedworth Roman Villa, Cotswolds, England

Chedworth, the site of a well preserved Roman Villa. No, not the white/black stripey building! That’s Tudor. Photo by Pasicles.

This Roman Villa was home to some of the richest people in the country during the 4th century who built one of the largest Romano-British villas in the country and installed mosaics, bathhouses, latrines and even underfloor heating.

Chedworth Roman Mosaic floors, Cotswolds, England

A lavish floor mosaic of a satyr at work in Chedworth Roman Villa. Photo by Pasicles.

The Chedworth mosaics, some of which were excavated just this year, are little by little being uncovered and restored.

Nearby sites of interest

Not far away are the wonderful ancient sites of Stonehenge, Avebury and the White Horses, as well as some magnificent Stately Homes such as Bowood and Stourhead; Longleat and its self-drive Safari Park are particularly popular.

Oxford lies to the east of the Cotswolds while just 12 miles north of Bath is Castle Combe with its terraced houses – many hundreds of years old and classified as ancient monuments – built from local stone with thick walls and split-stone tile roofs. Strict regulations ensure that this village will be preserved like this indefinitely.