With thriving market towns, honey-coloured villages and iconic cities throughout the region, take your choice of places to visit  nearby.

The Cotswolds  |  Gloucestershire  |  The Vale of Evesham  |  Shakespeare Country

The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are a range of hills in west-central England, sometimes called the “Heart of England”. The name Cotswold means “sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides”.
They are characterised by attractive small towns and villages, built of the underlying Cotswold stone (a yellow oolitic limestone). In the Middle Ages the wool trade made the Cotswolds prosperous and some of this money was put into the building of churches, leaving the area with many large handsome Cotswold stone “wool churches”. The area remains affluent, which has encouraged the establishment of many high quality pubs, restaurants and antique shops.

Nearby Cotswold towns include Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway, Burford, Chipping Norton, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold and Winchcombe. The town of Chipping Campden is notable for being the home of the Arts and Crafts movement, founded by William Morris at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. William Morris lived occasionally in Broadway Tower, a folly, now part of a country park. Chipping Campden is also known for the annual Cotswold Olimpick Games, a celebration of sports and games dating back to the early 17th century. Famous places close to the Cotswolds include Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Cheltenham, home to the famous horse racing festival, and the beautiful university city of Oxford.

The Cotswolds is the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales. Whilst the beauty of the Cotswold AONB is intertwined with the villages that seem to almost grow out of the landscape, the Cotswolds were primarily designated as an AONB for the rare limestone grassland habitats as well as the old growth beech woodlands that typify the area. These habitat areas are also the last refuge for many other flora and fauna with some so endangered they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The uniqueness and value of the Cotswolds is engendered in the fact that five European Special Areas of Conservation, three National Nature Reserves and over 80 Sites of Special Scientific Interest are contained within the Cotswold AONB. Nearby towns


As the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in England and Wales, the Cotswolds covers a vast area of six counties, giving you a world of exploration. Gloucestershire is one of these counties, and it is home to some of the prettiest villages in Britain. Packed with traditional English charm, lush countryside and divided by the River Severn, this region is one of the UK’s most beautiful.

Gloucestershire is located on the northern edge of South West England and covers vast areas of the North Cotswolds and South Cotswolds. Well-preserved nature and wildlife is all around, but what this region is really known for is its abundance of elegant spa towns, market towns and chocolate box villages. There are simply too many to name them all but some favourite destinations include Bibury (described as “the most beautiful village in England” by William Morris), Bourton-on-the-Water (nicknamed the “Venice of the Cotswolds”), Blockley, the Slaughters, Stow-on-the-Wold, Painswick (dubbed the “Queen of the Cotswolds”) and Chipping Campden (known to have the prettiest high street in England).

There is also the city of Gloucester or the town of Cheltenham for visitors looking for great places to eat or shop, or to do some sightseeing, culture and top nightlife. Another favourite is Tewkesbury, a delightful market town set along the banks of the Severn; best known for its striking Abbey with its 12th Century ceiling and stained-glass windows. Other architectural gems of the area include the 15th Century Sudeley Castle, Hidcote Manor and the surrounding gardens, Gloucester Cathedral, the gothic revival Woodchester Mansion, the Grade II listed Hardwicke Court, Snowshill Manor, as well as the 13th Century ruins at Hailes Abbey.

Gloucestershire also has a rich literary history, with famous authors and poets who have lived in the region throughout time. Stroud-born Laurie Lee MBE was an accomplished author in the 50s and 60s, and Beatrix Potter’s ‘The Tailor of Gloucester’ was inspired by Harescombe Grange. Other literary icons to have links to beautiful Gloucestershire include Jane Austen, T.S Eliot, J.M Barrie and J.R.R. Tolkien. A number of festivals take place each year for fiction and poetry fans, such as the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Stroud Book Festival and the Gloucester History Festival. No matter what time of year you decide to visit our fantastic region, there’s always something going on.

For foodies, this is indeed the place to come to experience authentic British cuisine made with locally sourced, quality ingredients. Like other counties in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire is extremely proud of its produce and you won’t have to search far for mouth-watering gastronomy. The Taste of Gloucestershire Food & Farming Awards is just of the many events which celebrate local food, whilst there are Farmers’ Markets happening every weekend from North to South.

There are many regional flavours to try, such as the iconic Double Gloucester cheese, the famous Stinking Bishop, Gloucester Elver, and the Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig which has seen a resurgence in local Michelin star venues.

The Vale of Evesham

The Vale of Evesham, an area famed for its orchards and horticultural produce, has for many centuries supported a number of communities that have thrived on its fertile soil. Drained by the River Avon and with the town of Evesham as its centre, the Vale includes land in south Worcestershire, south Warwickshire and north Gloucestershire.

The Vale of Evesham is a traditional agricultural and horticultural area, including fruit farms, livestock farming and market gardening. The sheltered climate beneath the escarpment of the Cotswolds, the light alluvial soils and the ready availability of river water for irrigation in dry weather has led to a great deal of vegetable production. There are numerous orchards in the area, survivors of a time when the entire Vale was covered with blossom in the spring. Although orchards have declined somewhat in recent decades, they still make a sufficient show of blossom in spring that they are a tourist attraction.

In the villages to the east of Evesham, such as Offenham and Badsey, there are growers specialising in asparagus production. Every year there are asparagus auctions, notably at the historic Fleece Inn in Bretforton, which is now owned by the National Trust.

The Vale is served by the 150-year-old Cotswold railway line, originally known as the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway, although this was known at the time of construction as the “Old Worse and Worse”, due to regular derailments and construction problems, including a riot at Mickleton on the edge of the Vale. The stations within the Vale are at Honeybourne and Evesham and these are served by trains from Hereford, Worcester and London.

Shakespeare Country

Shakespeare Country is a loosely defined region, centred on the world-famous town of Stratford-upon-Avon, home of William Shakespeare. The region is located in the centre of England, also known as the “Heart of England”, and is well connected by road, rail and air. It lies just two hours from London and there are direct train services from London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon.

With magnificent castles, glorious gardens, stately homes and a historic palace, Shakespeare Country offers everything you need for a relaxing short break or a longer holiday. Visit historic Warwick and Kenilworth with their magnificent castles, enjoy regency Royal Leamington Spa and step back in time in Stratford-upon-Avon, or delve a little deeper into Shakespeare Country and you will discover some delightful smaller towns and villages.

Shakespeare Country and the neighbouring Cotswolds are also home to some of England’s most enchanting gardens, from almost every period of English garden history. From landscaped to cottage, exotic to herbal, these gardens are a delight to explore.


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