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Holidays in The Cotswolds of south central England

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The Cotswolds
Photo CC-by-SA 3.0 W. Lloyd MacKenzie, via Flickr

The Cotswolds is a beautifully scenic area in south central England, officially designated as an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" (AONB) back in 1966.  Spreading over a series of rolling hillsides in the Cotswolds Hills, all the way down an escarpment called the Cotswold Edge, the area offers lovely scenery, an area of lakes and a series of quaint and beautiful towns and villages along the way.

The major reason for the area receiving its prestigious award is the unusual grassland habitat, spreading between the villages.  This grassland was formed due to the Jurassic limestone bedrock in the region, and is a rare sight in the U.K.

The Cotswolds covers an area of around 25 miles across and a length of approximate 90 miles, stretching across several counties with the majority in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but also spreading into Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.  It runs from close to Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-Upon-Avon all the way to just a little south of Bath.  In fact, The Cotswolds are considered to be the largest AONB in the U.K.
Where to stay

The many historic villages and stately homes built from the natural golden Cotswold stone quarried in the area, seem to sprout almost naturally from the surrounding countryside.

With many quaint and comfortable bed & breakfasts and small hotels, the villages offer much in the way of comfortable and welcoming accommodation for the visitor. 

For those wishing to be a little more independent, Character Cottages offers lovely cottages, built in that same warm Cotswold stone, to be enjoyed by holidaymakers in the towns and surrounding areas, making a great base while touring the area.

Bibury in the Cotswolds
Photo of Bibury by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

What to do

Anyone feeling like a good stroll should visit the Cotswold Way, a long and very beautiful walk which extends for 103 miles, traversing the Cotswold escarpment with magnificent views over the Severn Valley and the Vale of Evesham and several viewpoints to enjoy along the way.  For those interested in a little history, the ruins of several Neolithic settlements and Bronze and Iron Age forts can be visited on Cotswold Edge.
Cotswold Water Park
Photo CC-by-SA David Griffiths
Anyone interested in fishing and birding will enjoy the Cotswold Water Park, which offers 147 lakes of various sizes, all surrounded by attractive scenery.

The lakes are not natural and were formed by limestone gravel extraction in the area over many years, which ceased in the 1970s.  The depressions naturally filled with water leaving a beautiful lake-filled area for visitors, and wildlife, to enjoy.

In fact the Cotswold Water Park has become an important area for the protection of various species of wildlife and birds.  The Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens is worth a visit in the area for those interested in more animals with 260 different animal species on offer.

For those wishing to see more, the video below takes us on a beautiful tour of The Cotswolds.  Enjoy!


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Latest update: September 29, 2014