Visiting the Cotswolds

 

The Cotswolds is a range of hills in southwestern England, not far from Oxford, and the area is one of the country’s most popular holiday destinations. Visitors come for its landscape of rolling green hills and lakes and to stay in the picturesque villages that can be found throughout the region.

Villages like Cirencester, Northleach, Cheltenham, and Chipping Campden receive the most tourists, and their buildings made from local limestone host a variety of tea shops and bed and breakfasts.

Don’t miss the Broadway Tower when visiting the area. This 18th century castle is built on a hilltop more than 1,000 feet above sea level and is the second highest point in the Cotswolds. The views are fantastic, as travelers can see as many as 16 different counties from the tower!

The Broadway Tower juts a further 55-feet from its hilltop situation. Photo credit Nick Garrod.

The Broadway Tower juts a further 55-feet from its hilltop situation. Photo credit Nick Garrod.

Cirencester is the so-called “Capital of the Cotswolds,” and is one of the largest towns in the area. Though it has a long history dating back to the Roman era, and was an active trading center during the Middle Ages, most of the city’s buildings date back to the 18th century. Nevertheless, the town is fun to visit. One highlight is its Market Place, which is packed with traders every day of week.

The small shop houses of Cirencester with the St John Baptist Church on the left. Photo credit Andrew Stawarz.

The small shop houses of Cirencester with the St John Baptist Church on the left. Photo credit Andrew Stawarz.

Not far from Cirencester, the village of Northleach is another popular destination. Like Cirencester, the big attraction is the village’s Market Place, which dates back to the wool trade of the Medieval Period. The town’s buildings date back to that period as well, and are very quaint.

Another village whose medieval identity can be easily seen is Chipping Campden. At the northern end of the hills, the town has a small High Street that is lined with historic homes and small shops. In lieu of a Market Place, the village has a Market Hall that dates back to the 17th century and was built upon an older outdoor trading post.

The ruins of the 17th century Market Hall in Chipping Campden.

The ruins of the 17th century Market Hall in Chipping Campden.

Finally, the village of Cheltenham is another big draw. Its local spring had made the town Britain’s most popular spa destination, and the town is perfect for tourists, as it’s a bustling place with plenty of restaurants, cafes, and hotels.

High-season usually sees these villages swamped with tourists, so visitors may want to consider visiting off-peak for some peace and quiet or getting out and exploring the local countryside a bit more. The company Log House Holidays rents out log cabins with hot tubs to visitors, many of which are set on pleasant lakes in the countryside. Otherwise hit the Cotswold Way trail that stretches across the region for a few hundred miles from Chipping Campden all the way to Bath.

The heavily forested Cotswold Way trail in the fall.

The heavily forested Cotswold Way trail in the fall.

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