Our guide to visiting the Cotswolds

Located in the heart of England, the Cotswolds region also represents the quintessential image of the English countryside, a rural haven of gently rolling hills, patchwork landscapes and charming cobbled villages.

The region has no real boundaries but is largely accepted to be an area in the heart of England encompassing the Eastern part of Gloucestershire and stretching in to the Oxfordshire countryside. The region is roughly triangular shaped reaching as far as Bath in the South West, Oxford in the East and Stratford-upon Avon in the North.

The area is renowned for its natural beauty and has become the recognized image of rural England. The Cotswolds are home to mellow rolling limestone hills, patchy woodlands with slow moving rivers and crystal streams. The undulating fields offer a colourful patchwork of lush greens and sandy yellows, particularly picturesque throughout the Summer months.

The Cotswolds prospered in medieval times as a result of the wool industry when a number of villages and townships bustling with water mills, traditional market squares and cosy pubs and inns sprung up for the travelling cloth merchants. Marks of the region's wealth remain today in the form of beautiful country manors and churches dotting the landscapes. Indeed, largely bypassed by the industrial revolution the Cotswolds seem almost frozen in a charming bygone era. The honey-coloured towns and villages of the Cotswolds offer some of Britain's most charming settlements home to rough stone walls, traditional thatch cottages and cobbled streets. Many of the towns demonstrate England's eccentricities with names such as "Stow on the Wold", "Moreton in Marsh" and "Chipping Norton". Today the villages remain prosperous and are home to antiques stores, tea rooms and crafts boutiques.

If the natural beauty and enchanting towns all get too much then don't miss venturing to the edges of the Cotsowolds to some of its larger towns and cities including the Gloucester and its magnificent cathedral, the opulent Regency spa town of Cheltenham and the market town of Cirencester, once a Roman stronghold.

The Cotswolds not only offer a quintessential view of England for those passing through but also some real treasures to revel in for those delving beneath the surface and spending longer to enjoy this unique region.

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