North Cotswold Holiday Cottages
Hand picked cottages set in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Cotswold Area Guide
A little Cotswolds history
Much of the Cotswolds' wealth was achieved through its highly successful wool trade, due to its innate suitability as a habitat for sheep, with its lush grasses and abundant waterways; the resultant prosperity is reflected in the large number of fine buildings it can boast, including manor houses, churches and castles. Throughout the Cotswolds, there is a great deal of evidence of the region's colourful history, including some of Great Britain's most impressive examples of Roman mosaics, at Cirencester's Corinium Museum, and a carefully excavated Roman villa at Chedworth, which is now under the auspices of the National Trust. The Romans, however, weren't the first to leave their stamp on the area, as it is also sprinkled with Neolithic barrows, Bronze Age stone relics and the remains of Iron Age forts, as well as landmarks from more recent history.
Delicious local produce
As you might expect from such an agriculturally and geologically rich environment, local produce is plentiful and varied, making the many farmers' markets a constant delight for foodies. Alternatively, those who'd rather let somebody else do all the hard work can enjoy sumptuous fare in the Cotswolds' excellent restaurants and gastro pubs, which serve local, organically grown vegetables, varying according to what is in season. Cheese aficionados are well served by the Cotswolds' large variety of locally made products, with a Cotswolds version of brie, a Windrush Valley goats' cheese and the camembertesque St Eadburgha, among many other varieties. In spite of the ever-present sheep, the Cotswolds' most interesting meat must surely be the ethically-produced boar products and their close cousins, the Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, whose bacon, sausages and other cuts frequently appear on menus throughout the county. Venison and local beef dishes are highly praised, although the region has more than its fair share of acclaimed chefs, so anything they create is likely to be a winner. Naturally, with the rivers that criss-cross the many Cotswold valleys, fresh trout and salmon are a delicious alternative to meat for the discerning diner. For the sweet-toothed, a Cotswolds cream tea can hold its own against those of Devon or Cornwall and they are available in tea rooms, cafés, pubs and restaurants all over the region, so you need never travel too far before you can take an indulgent cream-tea break.
An entertaining holiday location
Even though the classic Cotswolds image in the public consciousness is of thatched cottages, rolling hills and quietly idyllic waterside vistas, the opportunities for entertainment are many and varied and the area has a reputation for being welcoming to well-behaved pets. Cultural activities and attractions are well represented. Among the most popular sights are a number of religious buildings, including Cirencester's 12th-century Parish Church of St John the Baptist and the former Benedictine monastery, Tewkesbury Abbey, which is one of the most outstanding examples of the Norman style of architecture still in existence. Owing to its rich history, the Cotswolds is home to a large number of museums and other sites of historical interest; there are even a couple of museums that are devoted to modes of transport, such as planes and classic cars. Indeed, with a steam and diesel-powered heritage railway, this is a must-visit area for fans of vintage vehicles.
A breath of fresh air
It would be a mistake to underestimate the lure of the great outdoors and this is a popular region for hikers and bikers alike, the pedal-powered kind rather than those with engines. Fishing, camping and nature watching are high on the tourist agenda, as the wildlife is quite diverse and includes hawks rarely seen elsewhere in the wild, which you can observe on guided tours through the landscape. You can also choose to visit birds of prey in the more controlled environment of the falconry centre at Moreton-in-Marsh or Gloucester's Barn Owl Centre, if you would prefer. In addition to the beauty that can be seen all around, there are several managed gardens and wetlands open to visitors, such as Malmesbury's Abbey House Gardens, burial site of the first king of a united England, and Gloucester's Robinswood Hill Country Park, which offers walkers a majestic view of the surrounding counties from its hills. If hill walking seems a bit too much like hard work, you can always enjoy a splash in the lido in Cheltenham or visit Gloucester's vast waterpark as long as the weather's warm enough; there are also several other amusement parks which are suitable for all the family.
Shops and markets galore
Many of the Cotswolds' most attractive towns hold regular markets and have done so for centuries. That doesn't mean that its permanent retail outlets aren't worth visiting! On the contrary, some parts of the region are known for their shopping areas, including Cheltenham, which has a number of distinct shopping quarters where you'll find quirky, independent boutiques alongside recognisable chains. Arts, crafts and fashion are particular specialities, with many designers and artists having open studios from which they sell their creations.
Enjoying an evening out
Nobody heads to the sleepy villages of the Cotswolds because they're looking for a riotous nightlife, but there are pubs galore wherever you go, whether your taste runs to a pie and a pint on a seat by the fire or a gourmet meal in elegant surroundings. Similarly, you won't find any of the big shows here but there are some great provincial theatres for any travellers who would like to enjoy some smaller scale escapism during their stay.
Messing about in boats
There are plenty of opportunities to make the most of the rivers whose valleys give the area its distinctive landscape, such as the Stroud, Slad and Windrush Valleys. Visitors may choose to hire a boat for a day or longer or simply to hop on board one of the many boats taking river tours, which can include restaurant-quality meals and entertainment. Engine-powered vessels are available, as well as the more serene options of sail boats or barges. Enjoying a day-trip rather than a longer river journey allows you to take full advantage of the river valley scenery, yet return to the comfort of your hotel or one of the Cotswolds' many luxury cottages when you feel you've spent long enough on the water.
Some of the Cotswolds' most popular towns
One town that sees a lot of river-based activity is, unsurprisingly, Bourton on the Water, which sits on either side of the River Windrush and is often described as 'Little Venice', with its Cotswold stone bridges and river banks. It's a very family-friendly town with a number of fun attractions, including a model railway and a well-stocked aviary. Visitors can enjoy a trip to a working farm here, as they can in many parts of the Cotswolds, where they can see an enormous variety of wildflowers across the meadows, which have been declared a site of Special Scientific Interest due to the diversity of the flora.
Huddled at the foot of Fish Hill, Broadway - the Worcestershire town which bears the unofficial title of 'Jewel of the Cotswolds' - has been a source of inspiration to a number of creative visitors and residents, including William Morris. Broadway is home to a high street that is not only one of the longest in England but also has one of the most eclectic mixes of architectural styles imaginable due to its longevity. Some of its buildings have sections dating back to Roman times, while others are from the Tudor, Stuart and Georgian eras, intermingling with more recent additions. A similar integration of styles can be seen in the high street terrace of Chipping Campden, one of the earliest towns to have become prosperous due to the presence of wool merchants. Perfect for picnics and as a base to explore the surrounding countryside, as well as being a delight in its own right, this town is considered to be one of the finest examples of aesthetic planning in Gloucestershire - perhaps even in England.
Close to the most easterly end of the Cotswolds lies Stratford-upon-Avon, a market town that owes much of its thriving tourism to the influence of its most famous son, William Shakespeare. With a wealth of sights devoted to the Bard, such as his birthplace and the cottage once owned by his wife, Anne Hathaway, the town draws in the literary crowd, but as it also boasts a great range of shops, from unique craft outlets to high street favourites, it accommodates bargain hunters as well. Both Stratford-upon-Avon and its near neighbour, Mickleton, share the typical black and white architectural style associated with late Tudor and Jacobean England, but these buildings nestle in comfort amid cosy homes and public structures, proudly crafted from local limestone.
Former mill town, Blockley, displays a certain uniqueness of character due to its heritage. While most local towns concentrated on wool production, Blockley anticipated its decline and embarked upon the manufacture of silk items, such as ribbons. The modern-day village is something of a haven, with its babbling mill stream and quiet open spaces; it's a perfect place for a getaway or even a working holiday for those looking for a peaceful place where they can concentrate. The two best-known towns in the Cotswolds, Stow-on-the-Wold and Moreton-in-Marsh, are both renowned for the diversity of building styles on display and have very specific attractions that draw the crowds year after year. Stow-on-the-Wold is the site of the popular twice-yearly Gypsy Horse Fair and has a lot to offer the antique-collecting community; Moreton-in-Marsh is a longstanding market town which is said to have been the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional town of Bree from his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Expectations often fall short of reality and this can lead to disappointment. In the Cotswolds, however, the reputation of the area and the mental image that is associated with it have both come about because of the evidence of generation upon generation of visitors. When you enter the land of the rolling hills, it's almost as though you have stepped out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary. You won't be disappointed.
Ropewalk is a traditional cottage built from Cotswold stone and found at the heart of the charming and historic village of Blockley. A stay here means you’ll be enjoying areas of outstanding natural beauty that are perfect for hikers, foodies and those just looking to get away from it all! It’s the ideal base from which to explore and enjoy the tranquility, stunning scenery and market towns of the Cotswolds with fantastic walks that start right at the cottage’s front door.
An interesting quirky 'upside down' cottage forming part of a Barn Conversion. Granary Cottage offers a well presented character accommodation with a pretty paved garden. Situated within a popular courtyard at the heart of the village. Close to the village amenities including the famous Pudding Club, two village shops and 2 pubs with restaurants. The Cottage has been completely refurbished to a very high standard whilst maintaining the character. Enclosed courtyard to the front of the Cottage. Parking space provided.
The Apple Loft has been renovated to an excellent standard, offering luxury holiday accommodation. The kitchen has granite worktops, and outside, there is a lovely balcony area with seating and countryside views. In addition to this, there is a fully enclosed garden with patio and feature borders. Situated in Cotswold country.....
Exquisitely restored stone cottages found within the heart of Moreton in Marsh. The traditional Cotswold town itself is attractive and provides comprehensive facilities including restaurants, shops, and a popular Tuesday market. Moreton in Marsh also has its own mainline train station reaching Oxford (40 minutes) and Paddington (92 minutes).
Luxurious Holiday Cottage in Bourton on the Water which has been voted one of the prettiest villages in England. Bourton on the Water has a unique appeal to visitors and residents alike, there is plenty to see and do with a wealth of attractions and shops, restaurants and tea rooms, or simply for you to enjoy some tranquil time by the River Windrush with its beautiful bridges throughout.