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We recommend The Cotswolds for:
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Places to go and things to see;
The Cotswolds are as perfect a picture of rural England as you could hope for. Imagine 787 square miles of pastoral prettiness, an ever-changing patchwork of fertile fields interspersed with charming little villages. Is it any wonder The Cotswolds are a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? Welcome to the Heart of England.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the delightful villages of The Cotswolds is the honey-coloured houses and cottages. Their distinctive colour comes from the local limestone, which was used for everything from stone floors to roof tiles as the villages developed. You might think that the Cotswold villages owe their existence to the limestone, but it’s actually the local sheep that drove the region’s development. Around the thirteenth century, Cotswold sheep became famous throughout Europe for their heavy fleeces and high quality wool. It made Cotswold wool highly sought after and local traders fetched princely sums for their produce. It was the wealth generated from this wool trade that funded the development of the fine houses and beautiful churches of The Cotswolds. You can learn all about the local history in Wotton-under-Edge Heritage Centre, just a short drive from our hotel in Berkeley.
Local history can be an important part of any visit to this area, but it’s the great outdoors that really makes The Cotswolds memorable. So why wait to get out there? Crickley Hill Country Park offers well signposted walks that wind through spectacular scenery. There’s a footpath for every ability and the large picnic area is the perfect place to recharge after a bracing stroll. There are also several benches along the routes where you can have a quiet rest and take in the views. Just don’t dig in to your sandwiches too early.
Another great place to take in the local scenery is the Cotswold Water Park. This huge nature reserve is home to 132 lakes that provide a superb backdrop for an afternoon walk. If you want to try something different how about hiring a boat and drifting along one of the lakes? What a way to spend a peaceful hour or two. You can even go fishing if you fancy it, or simply sit back and admire the views from one of the lakeside cafés.
For nature lovers, a trip to Slimbridge Wetland Centre is a must. Not only is it home to the world’s largest collection of swans, geese and ducks, it’s also the only place in the world where you can find all six species of flamingo. You’ll also find water voles, seals, hares, dragonflies. With so much wildlife in such a special location, it’s no surprise that Slimbridge Wetland Centre is especially well-protected. It’s been named as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Ramsar Site and a Special Protection Area (SPA).
Of course, there’s more to The Cotswolds than the scenery. Explore some of the attractive villages and you’re sure to stumble on an unexpected treat – like Tetbury Police Museum, for instance. It’s dedicated to the history of the Gloucestershire Constabulary and reveals a turbulent past through a number of displays. You’ll also find a complete magistrates court, with models depicting a hearing as it would have been in the 1940s. The Dunkirk Mill Centre, meanwhile, features a massive water wheel from 1855 that powers a very rare piece of historic textile machinery. To watch the magnificent structure in action is to glimpse back at a bygone era.
Chavenage House, just a few minutes from our hotel by car, is another great place to visit. And if it looks familiar, you might have seen it on the BBC’s Lark Rise to Candleford. The beautiful manor house has been virtually unchanged for 400 years and has a fascinating history to uncover. In fact, it’s from this house that The Roundheads launched their attacks 350 years ago.
A little further afield you’ll find even more attractions. The National Trust’s Chedworth Roman Villa is one of the largest Romano-British villas in the country and is full of fascinating artefacts, whereas Sudeley Castle has royal connections span a thousand years. The grounds are stunning. Queen Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth I and King Charles I are just a few of the highly esteemed monarchs who have stayed.
Visit for yourself and you’ll soon see why the rural beauty of The Cotswolds has been so royally popular.
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