With its distinctive golden stone, the picturesque Cotswold towns and villages are ideal locations for weekends away. Whether it’s escaping busy city life or as part of a tour of the UK, the charm of my ‘hometown’ of the Cotswolds is undeniable. It is perhaps having moved away from the area and spent a few years living in London that I now appreciate this even more. But do not be fooled into thinking the Cotswolds is all wellies, wrapped up walks in the country side and cosy country pubs with roaring open fires. Whilst undoubtedly it can be in the winter, the summer in the Cotswolds can be an ideal time to visit with lots to see and do and greater chance of seeing that sun shine onto the honey coloured stone of Cotswold houses.
Where you should stay
With Cirencester being officially titled ‘The Heart of the Cotswolds’, my advice would be to stay in or close to this quaint market town. If you’re looking to be walking distance to restaurants and pubs, then the newly renovated Kings Head in the centre of the marketplace itself and overlooking the Church could work for you. Be aware though, prices are high and the service is not always wonderful. Alternatively, Air BnB could be a handy option.
If you’ve driven or hired a car (and I would suggest you need four wheels in these parts!), staying outside of Cirencester could work well for you. If luxury is your thing, then Barnsley House Hotel and Spa would work well for you. In addition, the local village pub in the Village of Barnsley serves great gastro pub food.
Alternatively, and perhaps most suited to those coming for the sunshine and myriad of outdoor activities, stay at the De Vere Cotswold Water Park Hotel. They too have a spa, but may offer slightly more competitive rates.
What you should do
- Visit Bibury to witness a pure chocolate box Cotswold Village. Wander along Arlington Row (a row of Saxon cottages – adorable enough to give anyone house envy). Admire the swans and ducks on the River Coln, whilst eating your picnic sandwich. Have a slice of cake at the William Morris café (he himself described Bibury as being the most beautiful village in England!). Most of all, visit the trout farm. Yes, you heard it right. The trout farm is my pick of attractions in Bibury. Have a go at fishing for trout, and learn to prepare a trout for cooking. Or simply feed the trout with pellets as you wander around the ponds. Just a note of caution: whilst it might be a perfect picture opportunity, keep hold of your phone. Mine ended up at the bottom of a trout pond.
- Go to the beach. Yep, again you heard correctly. The Cotswolds in the summer has its very own beach. As well as being a perfect place for all manner of water sports, the Cotswold Water Park also has a man-made beach, ideal for a relaxing day in the sunshine. Take a BBQ too and make a day of it.
- Cirencester Market is a lovely way to while away a few hours on a Saturday morning. With food markets being popular in marketplace and the neighbouring indoor market at the Corn Hall being filled with trinkets galore, you never know what you might take away with you from your trip to the Cotswolds.
- Eat ice cream on Minchinhampton common. A site on special scientific interest and owned by the National Trust, this vast open space offers views of the rolling hills in and around Stroud. More importantly, it is home to Winstones Ice Cream Factory. This is real Cotswolds ice cream. Go for a walk across the common and reward yourself with some creamy dairy-goodness at the end.
Hope to see you in the Cotswolds soon!