Things to do in the Cotswolds: Gloucestershire
There are so many wonderful things to do in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Set out below are some of my favourite towns and villages to visit!
Stow-on-the-Wold is a lovely market town and civil parish on top of an 800-foot hill and one of the more well known Cotswolds towns. It has a typical Cotswolds town feel with cobbled streets, a market square and independent shops. There are many pubs to have a cheeky vino and beer and people watch.
Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the most popular tourist stops in the Cotswolds and regularly voted one of the prettiest villages in England. The bridges over the River Windrush turn this village into a beautiful postcard.
Whilst I appreciated how pretty the village was, it was very busy with lots of large coach companies dropping off tours. Still definitely worth a visit if you are in the area though.
Similarly to Bourton-on-the-Water, Bibury is a very popular Cotswold market town with large tours descending. Situated on the River Coln, 9 miles from Burford, Bibury must be on your list of things to do in the Cotswolds.
The village was actually once described by William Morris (famous artist and designer) as ‘the most beautiful village in the Cotswolds’ and I can see why!
One of Bibury’s main tourist spots and overlooking the river is Arlington Row, a group of ancient cottages with steeply pitched roofs dating back to the 16th Century. Henry Ford (founder of the Ford cars) loved Arlington Row and tried to buy the entire trow of houses to ship back to the US! He was unsuccessful and it is has become one of the most photographed parts of the UK.
If you are into your fishing, they have Bibury Trout Farm and restaurant where you can catch your own trout. The farm is also surrounded by beautiful gardens.
We stopped off at The Swan Hotel and Inn for a drink in the sun. The hotel has a large outside area for eating and drinking as well as plenty of space inside.
Disclaimer: Broadway is actually in Worcestershire!
Broadway Tower & Park is a family-owned 50-acre estate of parkland. The 65ft tower was built by designer ‘Capability Brown’ and is the second highest point in the Cotswolds. It is believed that Broadway Tower was built so that the Countess of Coventry could see if her Cotswold estate was visible from Croome Court in Worcestershire!
You can walk the grounds for free and only have to pay £5 for the ticket to climb the tower. From the top, there are such amazing views of the countryside. There is also a nuclear bunker which is open at certain times of the year for visitors. Lastly, there is a cafe by the tower for a food and drink break.
You can walk to the village from Broadway Tower but driving is easier and quicker. The village is one long strip of beautiful houses and independent shops and cafes and is one of my favourites in the Cotswolds.
We had lunch at Tisanes Tea Rooms which had a lovely outdoor area to enjoy sandwiches and cakes. Following that we had to have an ice cream and carry on wandering around the beautiful town.
Painswick is a historic wool town, sitting high near Stroud and is known as ‘The Queen of the Cotswolds’. It is a great base for walks in the countryside and Painswick Beacon has wonderful views across the Severn Valley to the Welsh mountains.
We parked near St Mary’s Painswick Church which is famous for its 99 Yew Trees (dating back to the 18th century), which stand in the large churchyard. I have read that the legend says that the 100th tree will never grow but who knows!
We stopped off at the lovely The Royal Oak Inn for a glass of wine in their garden area.
Painswick Rocco Gardens
After a little tipple, we walked from the town to the Painswick Rocco Gardens which took around 20 minutes. Rococo describes a period of art fashionable in Europe in the 1700s, identifiable particularly in furniture and architecture. Some of the key features include highly ornamental decoration, the use of pastel colours and asymmetry.
Painswick’s Rococo Garden was designed for the Hyett family, who bought and expanded Painswick House in the 1730s. It was used as a symbol to impress the wealthy! Now it is a registered charity and admission (£9.90) goes towards maintaining the garden.
We spent just over an hour exploring the gardens on a bright sunny day, although you could easily spend longer. The garden entrance starts off at a height before weaving its way down to the sculptures, forest, walkways, mazes and rococo inspired buildings.
After our morning in Painswick, we stopped off at Stroud. Tip: don’t stop off in Stroud! It is not a quaint Cotswold village or market town! As it was lunchtime, we searched for country pubs near the area and came across The Black Horse Inn in Amberley.
The pub is 400 years old and is perched on the edge of Minchinhampton Common. It was an absolute GEM of a find. There is no car park but you can just swing your car into a space on the country roads like so many others do.
The Black Horse has a small outside area at the front but you have to dine outside in the terraced garden at the back with amazing views across the valleys. For the rainy days, there is a conservatory and cosy indoor seating. They serve traditional British pub food with locally sourced ingredients. We tucked into the Gloucester Old Spot Sausage & Onion baguette topped with tangy onion marmalade and fries (£7.80) and a Roast Pork and Apple Sausage baguettes with fries (£6.50 and only available on Sundays).
Circenster is one of the largest Cotswolds towns but still worth a visit. For a leisurely stroll, Circenster Park is a perfect way to spend the afternoon. You can park near the entrance and wander for miles down the stretch.
The town still has many independent stores but, given its size, is also home to chain shops. The Parish Church of St John Baptist stands high in the market square and is worth a visit. There are also smaller parks around the town to explore and grab an ice cream on a sunny day!
We stopped off at The Crown for a cheeky beverage (or two) and sat in their large back garden. The prices were very reasonable with a beer, pimms and prosecco totalling around £12!
Fairford is situated around a 15 minute drive from Circenster surrounded by the River Coln. It used to be an important coaching town on the old London to Gloucester route.
The town is fairly compact and was very quiet on the weekend we visited. If you have time, you can walk along the country roads via the bridges and river. You can visit St Mary’s, Fairford’s parish church, which has 28 medieval stained glass windows!
Lechlade on Thames
Lechlade is only 10 minutes east of Fairford and is a lovely historic small town on the River Thames. It has a market square, many independent shops and restaurants and is home to the gorgeous Halfpenny bridge. As soon as we parked up, I found the house I want to live in (!):
We had lunch at The New Inn Hotel which has limited outdoor space but lots of indoor seating. We tucked into a huge portion of Double Cheese Nachos with Jalapeno peppers, Sour Cream, Tomato Salsa, Guacamole and Beef Chilli (£9). The Chicken Fajitas and Cheese Melt with crisps and salad (£7) was also great. It was a decent place for reasonably priced pub grub.
After lunch we walked to The Riverside Pub for a drink overlooking the River Thames. It was a great place for people watching!
East London Girl: Things to do in the Cotswolds (Gloucestershire)