Holidays In The Cotswolds
PUBLISHED: 13:25 12 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:00 20 February 2013
Welcome to Holidays UK, a magazine showcasing some of this country's most beautiful and interesting destinations, also featuring holidays in the Cotswolds.
Extract taken from Holidays UK 2009
When Laurie Lee picked up his pen to immortalise the Cotswolds, the poetry flowed: rolling hills, deep valleys, babbling streams, golden-stone cottages and bustling market towns.
If you want to know where the Cotswolds begin and end, you need to look for the characteristics that help define them: drystone walls; goldenstone cottages; villages idly gathered around greens; market towns unmarked by the passage of time; ancient beech woodland circled by mewing buzzards; limestone grassland dotted with scabious, harebells, cowslips and wild orchids. It was this natural beauty that led to the Cotswolds being designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty back in 1966.
The landscape has influenced every aspect of this glorious region: the sheep that grazed here created the wealth that built the manor houses and churches; the streams powered the mills. A Disney film-set would find it hard to surpass the idyllic villages: Bourton-on-the-Water, the Venice of the Cotswolds, where the River Windrush passes through; the lovely Slaughters; towns such as medieval Tewkesbury, Regency Cheltenham and Georgian Bath.
Indeed, the nation's favourite places, from Laurie Lee's Slad, Bibury's Arlington Row and Sir Peter Scott's Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge to Castle Combe and Bath's Royal Crescent, are all to be found here.
But this is no backwater, for the Cotswolds and Forest of Dean have named themselves Britain's Rural Capital of Culture. There are festivals galore - literature, science, music, plus top horse-racing at Cheltenham.
You'll find theatre, opera, artists and galleries. It's an area that will make you laugh with its quirky customs such as rolling cheeses down hills; shin-kicking at the Cotswold
Olimpick Games; intrigue you with mysteries like the legend-rich Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire; and charm you with eccentricities such as Snowshill Manor, which is packed to the rafters with a collector's ephemera. Moreover, the Cotswolds have a water park - an area of land one-and-a-half times as big as the Norfolk Broads - where you can sail, bird-watch or swim.
Spring at Westonbirt Arboretum, autumn in the Forest of Dean; Stroud Farmers' Market; Prince Charles' Highgrove Shop in Tetbury; polo in Cirencester Park; Churchill's birthplace, Blenheim Palace; Harry Potter film locations at Gloucester Cathedral and Lacock Abbey; Gloucester Docks.