Set in the central south west of England, the Cotswolds is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty with just over 2000km2 of lush rolling hills that encompasses historic towns, stone-built villages and picturesque natural landscapes.
Thanks to its variety and stunning beauty, the Cotswolds makes an ideal destination for any occasion; be it day trip, weekend or long stay. It has such variety within its area but all of it is distinctly and uniquely part of the same Cotswolds and you can see this identity throughout: from the golden stone-built villages to the gently rolling hills. There is a great wealth of sight-seeing opportunities to be discovered in this area of outstanding natural beauty and although this article only covers a brief stint, I would still strongly encourage further exploration.
The perfect place to begin your trip is the ‘gateway to the Cotswolds’ which is the medieval town of Burford that sits on the River Windrush. Walking along High Street will take you past many historic buildings dating as far back as the 15th century. Former inns, hotels and almshouses now serve as cafés, restaurants and independent shops for the residents of Burford as well as tourists who come to explore these quaint English towns set in the Cotswolds. The centrepiece of this town is definitely St John the Baptist Church which reflects the wealth of the former merchants; a magnificent parish church that contains many memorials and other trinkets within.
Just a 20 minute car journey away from Burford are the Slaughters, Upper and Lower – two perfect examples of quintessentially quaint English villages. And these are also right next to Bourton-on-the-Water, another fabulous town that’s well worth a visit. However, just focussing on the Slaughters, these two offer lovely ambling walks through grassland and village along the River Eye.
Walking through the Cotswolds is such a treat because as you meander through the countryside, many of the paths and routes also encompass towns and villages which adds such colour to the walks. Just taking the time to stroll through this part of England is a chance to reset as it really offers such natural untouched beauty.
Another great spot to visit is Westonbirt Arboretum which is 50 minutes south by car from Burford. Home to more than 2500 different species of tree from around the world, Westonbirt is a really special place to enjoy some time outdoors beneath a vast canopy of trees hailing from far flung parts of the globe. Among the great variety includes at least 100 rare trees that are unfortunately designated rare as they are threatened with extinction. So not only is the arboretum a unique opportunity to see these trees but it also helps with their conservation.
One of the best ways to really get up close to the trees is to walk along the STIHL Tree Top Walkway which offers elevated access to a section of the arboretum. It is quite the luxury to be afforded such sights where you gain a different perspective of the surrounding trees. Having the walkway’s height advantage means you can get closer to the crown of the tree which I think is a fantastic opportunity. The arboretum is such a wonderful place to spend a sunny morning or evening in, hopefully getting some sunshine breaking through the branches and lighting up the vibrant colours of the leaves.
As I said at the beginning, the Cotswolds offers a great deal more than what I’ve highlighted here. However, the above suggestions are a great starting point to get a taste of what this area of outstanding natural beauty has to offer.
Author bio:Jess Cleave works for Oak Tree Parks who have over 50 years experience in running quality residential retirement parks and owner occupied holiday parks in the South West of England.