Encompassing six different counties, the Cotswolds are one of England’s greatest national treasures. With rolling hills and quaint villages, the Cotswolds are favored by both home and international tourists alike. So if you’re after a rural escape this summer, here is a rundown of five of the Cotswolds’ top beauty spots and why they’re worth a visit during your time there:
1. Warwick Castle
Located on the River Avon, Warwick Castle was developed from a motte-and-bailey castle into the stone building it is today by William the Conqueror, in 1068. Having been bought by the Tussauds Group in 1978, the castle is now a well-known tourist spot and regularly hosts medieval style events such as jousting and a trebuchet show, using a working siege engine. It is also believed that the castle is heavily haunted, though nothing has ever been proven.
Despite being a tourist haven, the castle can still be regarded as a beauty spot as it offers guests a look inside a real-life stately castle that was once used by the aristocracy. It features beautifully landscaped gardens, and stunning views across the surrounding rural setting from its turrets. More than £6,000,000 has been spent restoring the castle over the years – and it shows.
Famed by Shakespeare and Dickens, Tewkesbury lies between the where the Rivers Severn and Avon meet. The town offers one of the best medieval townscapes across England, filled with timber-framed properties and narrow alleyways. It also houses a 12th century Benedictine Abbery, with a tower that provides views of neighbouring Bredon Hill, the Malverns and the remainder of the Cotswolds.
Formerly recognised as a market town, it was also a key location for flour milling and a water mill still remains in the town though it is now a residential property. Several Cotswold walking routes run through Tewkesbury, such as the Severn Way, Gloucestershire Way and the Tewkesbury Battle Trail. The town also holds an annual Medieval festival in July which includes re-enactments of the Battle of Tewkesbury, the 1471 War of the Roses.
With the River Windrush running right through its centre, Bourton-on-the-Water is known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’. As the most visited village in the Cotswolds, the village is filled with clear water and low bridges which create charming scenes throughout.
The village is packed with a variety of shops, pubs, restaurants, and tea-rooms, which make it the ideal place to visit for a day trip. Tiny Bourton also homes a scaled down replica of itself in the form of a Model Village which opened in 1937, and a domed tower church that goes by the name of St Lawrence’s. Wildlife fans amongst visitors to the town will also be pleased to know that Bourton’s Salmonsbury Meadows have been recognised as a conservation area for bird and bug life alike.
English textile designer and all-round craftsman William Morris deemed Bibury the ‘most beautiful village in England’, with its honey-colored, 17th century stone cottages and endless flora. It is here that the Rack Isle is based. The seasonally flooded meadow – named after its former use as a rack-drying location for cloths from nearby Arlington Mill – is also the location of the Arlington Row cottages. Originally built in 1380 as a monastic wool store, the row was converted in the 17th century to cottages that previously housed weavers who worked at the nearby, aforementioned Arlington Mill. After appearances in Bridget Jones’ Diary and Stardust, the row remains one of the most photographed and iconic scenes in Bibury, if not the whole of the Cotswolds.
The village lies adjacent to the River Coln, which flows down alongside the village’s main street. Bibury Trout farm is supplied water by the Coln and the Bibury Springs, and remains one of the village’s most popular attractions.
Many of the village beauty spots across the Cotswolds lie close to rivers, and the market town of Cirencester is no different being in close proximity to the River Churn, a tributary to London’s famous River Thames. Cirencester is regarded the largest town in the Cotswolds, and is the base of the Royal Agricultural University. The town has many links to the age of the Romans, with its Roman name being Corinium. As such, the town also has the Corinium Museum, which contains a seemingly endless collection of Roman artefacts.
Like many of its neighbouring towns and villages, Cirencester is saturated with century old properties, giving it a truly nostalgic feel in terms of its architecture. It is a true age-old settlement with a church and timber-framed properties on occasion. Whilst it homes many high street stores nowadays, guests still get to feel a little like they’ve travelled back in time as they wander around its narrow streets.
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