The Cotswolds Travel Guide
Bibury, Cotswolds © David Iliff CC-BY-SA 3.0
The Cotswolds region epitomises English country quaintness. With names like Chipping Campden, Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold, the Cotswold towns and villages have a fairytale-like air, with small bridges over shallow rivers, colourful gardens leading up to pretty stone cottages, all surrounded by rolling fields broken up by manicured hedges and dry stone walls. It's hard not to feel the rural tranquillity, and visitors may well feel as though they've stepped into one of Constable's paintings. In fact, in the global imagination, most of England probably looks like the Cotswolds.
Historically the Cotswolds region was famous for its wool production and the many beautiful churches, manor houses and villages built on the back of this trade are testament to this period of wealth. The industrial revolution appears to have passed-by the Cotswolds as life here does not seem to have changed much over the centuries.
The charming town of Cirencester is the self-styled capital of the Cotswolds and is a good base from which to explore the region. In Roman times Cirencester was the second most important city in England, though little evidence of this period remains. Other popular market towns include Bibury, Burford and Tetbury, which is the nearest town to Highgrove, the Prince of Wales's country retreat, and Gatcombe, home to his sister the Princess Royal. There are many other quaint villages where a room can be taken in the local pub or bed-and-breakfast.
The larger towns of Bath, Cheltenham, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Oxford are on the edge of the Cotswolds making the region a very popular choice with tourists.