Chipping Campden, start of the Cotswold Way | Tom McShane
What to do in the Cotswolds?
5 Places in Pictures
Planning a trip to the Cotswolds in England? Walkers' Britain team member Els recently visited and looks at what to do in the Cotswolds on your active holiday in the UK.
1. Quaint Villages
The villages of the Cotswolds are truly charming. Emerging from the woods or reaching the top of a hill and looking down into yet another yellow-bricked settlement to walk up to is a rewarding way of walking. There are many, many of these villages scattered around the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) of the Cotswolds so it can be hard to decide which ones to visit. You can find an overview of what to do in the Cotswolds villages from platforms like Cotswolds AONB and the Cotswolds Tourist Information Site. Some of our most favourite villages in the Cotswolds are:
Snowshill: The village of Snowshill overlooks the Avon Valley and the Midland Plain. It is home to Snowshill Manor, a Tudor house that is home to a collection of curiosities from around the world such as furniture pieces, Samurai armour, toys and bicycles. If you are walking with children, this may be one of their most favourite things to do in the Cotswolds.
Bibury: This village on the River Coln has been described as the most beautiful in England. Arlington Row is a 17th Century row of weavers’ cottages and Arlington Mill is a corn mill from the same century. Its machinery is still working!
Lower Slaughter: A beautiful village on the Windrush. Spend some time here to take in the peacefulness of this Cotswolds settlement and walk around to look at the well-kept cottages and ducks in the Windrush. The manor house in Lower Slaughter has a fine dovecote.
Naunton: A beautiful village with its long street running parallel with the Windrush stream. There is a fine stone dovecote with four gables near a barn, close to the pub. The church of Naunton is a perpendicular ‘wool’ church that has a 15th Century pulpit .
Chipping Campden: Visit Chipping Campden and you will find a very fine Cotswold wool town built by local craftsmen in the typical local yellow stone. The High Street of Chipping Campden is full of beautiful buildings and a 17th Century market hall. Have some extra time to spend and not sure what to do in this Cotswolds beauty? Visit the Woolstapler’s Hall Museum, the 17th Century almshouses and lovely church just outside town.
Guiting Power: A quintessential Cotswold village situated in the Heart of England, between Winchcombe and Stow on the Wold. Guiting Power has an ancient stone cross on the village green, mossy roofs, roses and wisteria clambering up the mellow walls. The village looks much the same as four centuries ago.
2. Visit Shakespeare’s Stratford Upon Avon
On the river Avon just north of the Cotswolds area lies the historic town of Stratford Upon Avon. It is the birthplace of the world famous English poet and playwright William Shakespeare. The centre of the town has preserved many of the buildings from Shakespeare’s time and it is a very attractive, quaint English town to visit before or after you Cotswolds walking holiday.
When in Stratford Upon Avon, there are plenty of things to do. For example, you can sit in the exact room where Shakespeare was inspired to write literature and join a Tudor school lesson at Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall, stroll around Shakespeare’s family homes from his birthplace to Anne Hathaway’s cottage and Mary Arden’s farm, and watch one of the plays performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
3. Hidcote Manor Garden
Walk around in the Hidcote Manor Garden and you’ll find a different atmosphere or vista with every turn you take. The garden is developed by Lawrence Johnston (1871-1958) and showed experiments with novel plant combinations. Today the garden is a National Trust heritage and attracts visitors, worldwide gardeners and students to enjoy the enchanting spaces.
“Plant only the best forms of any plant” – Lawrence Johnston, founder of Hidcote Manor
It took about 30 years to transform the area around the home of Hidcote Manor, acquired by his mother in 1907, into one of the UK’s best known arts and crafts gardens. Travelling around the world on journeys that took him to places like South Africa and China, Lawrence brought back rare plants and species that can still be seen today. Hidcote Manor Garden is located south from Stratford Upon Avon very close to Chipping Campden in the Gloucestershire part of the Cotswolds. So if you were thinking what to do in the Cotswolds on our walking holiday, Hidcote Manor can certainly be added to your list.
4. Broadway Tower and Impressive Views
Situated on the Cotswolds Way walking path, Broadway Tower is a unique place for a breather on our Cotswolds walking holidays. It takes about 1,5 hours walking to reach the top of a hill from where you can have the first glimpse of Broadway Tower. You’ll still have some walking through the stunning Cotswolds to do though until you reach this 18th century folly and that gives you plenty of time to think about what to do when you get there.
The tower is on Fish Hill (312m) and is a magnificent viewpoint from which, it is said, thirteen counties can be seen with impressive views of the Cotswolds that encompass the Vales of Evesham and Gloucester, and on a clear day as far away as the mountains of Southern Wales. Broadway Tower houses exhibitions to artists William Morris and printer Sir Thomas Phillips and there is a café that serves, of course, a selection of fine teas, cakes and savoury dishes. If you want to ensure you tick off absolutely everything there is to do in the Cotswolds, you can descend into the secret bunker that was used during the Cold War next to the Broadway Tower.
5. The Pubs!
There is no lack of traditional English pubs in the Cotswolds and some of our favourites include:
Hollow Bottom, Guiting Power – Said to be doing the best bar meals in town and it also does good real ales. It is located almost next door to the place where you can overnight on our walking and cycling holidays in the Cotswolds if you are staying in Guiting Power, or stay in the pub itself!
Mount Inn and Guild House, Stanton – At the top of the street in Stanton is the Mount Inn. The pub opens at noon and is excellent to visit. The view from the pub terrace of beautiful Stanton is perfect to enjoy food and drinks.
The Great Western Arms, Blockley – It has an excellent pub restaurant with a wide selection of dishes, which are all deliciously prepared. The ‘Real Ales’ normally include two types of Hook Norton.
The Lion, Winchcombe – Situated on North Street, this is a very good diners pub and comes highly recommended by our Sherpa team members. In Winchcombe there is a long and fascinating history reflected in the architecture of the town that is worth a visit.
Dirty Duck, Stratford upon Avon – Shakespeare’s hometown boasts a fine selection of bars and pubs. Perhaps the most famous of these is the “Dirty Duck”. Situated close to the theatres, the pub is a favourite haunt of thirsty actors, many of whom can be recognised from the photos on the walls in the right-hand bar.
>> View all walking and cycling tours in the Cotswolds.