10 Reasons to Explore England’s Cotswolds
by Dawn Rainbolt
January 19, 2022 Adventure Experts
January 19, 2022 Adventure Experts
Hiking from village to village in England’s iconic Cotswolds is a kind of therapy that’s hard to come by. Travelers who set out to explore this incredible and iconic region will wander through a whimsical countryside full of rolling green hills, ancient hedgerows, and charming stone villages dotted with vibrant flowers, seemingly plucked from a postcard.
Experience the rich history of England and immerse yourself in the culture through visits to local villages, castles and abbeys. Breathe in the fresh Cotswolds air, taste the delicacies of the region, and enjoy a bit of Shakespearean drama in Stratford-upon-Avon.
“Cotswolds” and “villages” go hand-in-hand. What is the Cotswolds if not a stunningly beautiful region dotted with charming fairytale villages? There are too many storybook villages to name here, but suffice it to say that you’ll be charmed and enchanted by quaint places like Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Campden, Bibury, Quenington and Coln St Aldwyns, seemingly untouched by the modern era.
From churches and abbeys to ancient Neolithic and Roman ruins, the Cotswolds is bursting with amazing heritage sites. Wander the vestiges of Chedworth Villa, one of the grandest Roman villas of its time, marvel at the intricate architecture of medieval churches, keep an eye out for 5,000-year-old Neolithic monuments and explore the ruins of places like Hailes Abbey—an impressive 13th-century gothic building. Visit culturally significant towns and cities like Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon, each with their own wonderful historic sites, or Bath which was founded by the Romans due to a thermal spring located there. Visit the impressive Roman baths which lend their name to the town and put Bath on the map for millennia afterwards (even today, it’s still known for its thermal baths).
The Cotswolds Way is an iconic English long-distance trail. Though only established recently, the trail strings together a series of beloved paths to create a 135 km path meandering through the stunning Cotswolds. But it doesn’t stop there – the patchwork of the Cotswolds is woven with a number of other hiking trails like the Monarch’s Way and a number of riverside and canal-side pathways. Along the way, hike up Cleeves Hill, the highest point in the Cotswolds for some spectacular views.
The Cotswolds offers a range of sites for castle lovers. There’s the grandeur of Sudeley Castle and its fantastic gardens, and notably, the only private castle to house a queen’s royal tomb. The great ruins of the once-majestic manor house Minster Lovell Hall are well worth a visit as are the iconic turrets of Broadway Tower. Interestingly, Broadway Tower is not a castle at all but actually a folly, or fake castle. It was built in the 1800s and landscaped by Capability Brown to resemble a Norman castle.
From the perspective of logistics and terrain, the Cotswolds is handy for its accessibility. Arriving in the Cotswolds is a lot easier and simpler than getting to other destinations. It’s only a few hours from London, the international hub and entry point for most overseas arrivals. With gentle slopes, signposted trails, plentiful amenities and rolling green hills, hiking in the Cotswolds offers a lovely and gentle foray into the English countryside—with plenty of options for food, drink and culture.
There are a plethora of quaint and cozy inns and guesthouses in the Cotswolds where not only is the service guaranteed, but you’ll enjoy a taste of history too. A hallmark of any Cotswolds journey is staying in charming inns such as the Broadway Hotel, which boasts timbered buildings dating from the 15th century, or the Swan Hotel, situated on the banks of the River Coln.
From the beloved red telephone booth, fast disappearing across the UK, to postcard-perfect villages, cosy teahouses, and rolling green hills dotted with bleating sheep, the image you have in your head of iconic England is likely just what you’ll find in the Cotswolds.
Ever heard of high tea? Well, you need to try it for yourself. This is quintessential England – tea and scones, clotted cream and pastries and finger sandwiches, all in a scrumptious setting. Indulgence this may be, but we prefer to think of it as pure fuel. After all, you did just hike through the Cotswolds today, right? And, of course, you can eat more than just tea and scones in the Cotswolds. The region is home to a microcosm of delicious eateries, outdoor food markets, charming cafes and high-end restaurants where you can eat your fill of regional dishes.
We’ve established there are lovely green hills here in the Cotswolds. But what about other floral delights? From the first sprinkling of spring snowdrops and magical carpets bursting of bluebells in late spring to fields of wildflowers in summer and later a fiery display of autumnal colors, the Cotswolds is a place of soft and colorful natural beauty.
Oxford is possibly the most literary town in England due to its numerous famous colleges and outpouring of respected and beloved writers and thinkers (shh, don’t tell Cambridge!). But the Cotswolds is overflowing with literary giants. The most famous is, of course, Shakespeare, who famously grew up in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon. As Shakespeare’s birthplace, there are several properties important to the playwright which have been preserved, and regular productions of his plays are available in theatres across town. There are more writers who have connections with this area – Tolkien spent time here and based many elements of the Shire on Cotswolds villages, and Jane Austen famously lived in (and criticised) the town of Bath. One could say that the landscapes, culture and lifestyle inspired many of their important works.
On MT Sobek’s delightful Cotswolds walking tour, you’ll discover dreamy English countryside as you hike from village to village in just 8 days. Take detours to visit all of the iconic sites. Indulge in some Shakespeare with a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, take in a scenic steam train ride, and explore the beautiful town of Cirencester with its strong Roman influence. Along the way, enjoy tea and scones, sample pints of the finest bitter, stay in charming hotels, and enjoy a perfectly well-paced England hiking trip.
Ready to explore? Learn more about our walking adventure in the Cotswolds here.