The Cotswolds - the essence of England

By Michael Manton , Friday 15 February 2013

For many of us, the honey-coloured limestone villages, leafy lanes and riverside pubs of the Cotswolds represent quintessential England and make for the perfect holiday destination.
The Cotswold village of Castle CombeThe Cotswold village of Castle Combe

The Cotswolds are ridiculously picturesque. The region has been designated an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the largest in the country, and also lays claim to the largest number of conservation areas of any English region.

Its quintessentially English charm predominantly spans the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, stretching from the northern gateway of Broadway to the magnificent roman town and Georgian city of Bath on the southern fringes.

The fringes of the region include Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon, the king maker's castle of Warwick, the historic academia of Oxford and Winston Churchill's childhood home, Blenheim Palace.

The Regency town of Cheltenham offers award-winning gardens, an impressive array of stylish shops and restaurants, and a range of festivals, whilst neighbouring  Gloucester will impress you with its fascinating history. Medieval Tewkesbury presents a range of beautiful buildings to explore and in the south of the region, Stroud holds one of the country's best Farmers' Markets.

So, whilst there's much more to this beautiful region than first appears, it is the gently rolling hills, criss-crossed with dry stone walls, which hide a wealth of distinctive market towns and villages made of the famous amber stone, that most of us bring to mind when thinking of the Cotswolds.

These limestone villages and market towns blend harmoniously into the surrounding countryside as if they have somehow grown out of the landscape itself. Between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Cotswolds was made wealthy by the wool trade, and many of these towns and villages were built by wealthy cloth merchants.


Visiting this region is like going back in time 400 years to a time untouched by modern man and the Industrial Revolution, which ultimately heralded the area’s commercial decline. It's almost as if everything has been magically preserved in amber.

The honey-coloured stone imbues the towns and villages with a magical property, the hues of which change depending on the time of year and angle of the sun; spring mornings and late summer evenings are a kaleidoscope.

But the Cotswolds are more than just a pretty view. Lively cultural events, a year-round season of sporting events and festivals, a wonderful range of individual, quirky shops, and fantastic food served in local restaurants, pubs and tea rooms have all combined make this area one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country.

Exclusive holiday offers to the Cotswolds

cottages4you have an outstanding range of over 290 cottages in the Cotswolds to choose from.

Classic British Hotels are offering Saga customers an exclusive Historic Cotswolds Hideaway short break, with an incredible 57% off the normal price. Other exclusive breaks this month with Classic British Hotels includes packages to the Lake District, Holkham Hall in Norfolk and Snowdonia National Park.

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