Cotswold villages: 10 of the prettiest places to visit
PUBLISHED: 15:02 28 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:54 28 July 2020
Cotswold villages are some of the most beautiful in Britain – think honey-coloured cottages, cosy pubs, tiny tearooms and narrow streets. We pick ten of the prettiest Cotswolds villages to explore.
Coronavirus statement: Please follow government regulations when visiting these villages and check ahead for houses, cafes, pubs and restaurants for temporary changes in opening times and social distancing measures.
Blockley, with its peaceful nature and beautiful appearance has plenty to offer holidaymakers and locals alike - and Father Brown fans might recognise it as the fictional village of Kembleford. The golden Cotswold cottages and limestone walls punctuating the rolling hills of the surrounding countryside look like a scene from a fairytale, and the open village green overlooks the Norman Church and provides the perfect location for a picnic in the summertime.
Blockley Cafe Whether you fancy breakfast, lunch or a delicious cream tea, a warm welcome awaits you at Blockley Café. You can also go along on a Friday evening for a ‘refined dining experience’ (restarting in August), with the chefs creating flavoursome dishes using seasonal fare. The café has also been nominated for Local Tea/Coffee Shop of the Year in a past Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards.
The Great Western Arms Complete with luxurious facilities and comforts, this much-loved local is a great place to huddle in the corner with friends and catch up over a local beer from Hook Norton Brewery.
• Lower Slaughter
The name ‘Lower Slaughter’ derives from the Old English word ‘slothre’ meaning ‘muddy place’ - but you won’t see wetland and boggy ground in this charming village. Lower Slaughter is home to honey-coloured stone architecture, quaint little cottages and the most romantic street in Britain, Copse Hill Road.
The Old Mill Be guided through the history of breadmaking, learn how the corn mill works or relax on the terrace and watch the River Eye flow by with a handmade ice cream from their in-house parlour. (Reopening in September.)
Lower Slaughter Manor Gardens With five acres of glorious landscape gardens and fine specimen trees to explore, the Manor Gardens are beautiful all year round. Finish your visit with a Sunday lunch in the highly acclaimed restaurant of the Manor.
In 2006, Kingham was voted as ‘England’s Favourite Village’ and for those lucky enough to have visited this delightful hamlet in Oxfordshire, this will come as no surprise. With rows of unspoilt limestone cottages and open village greens, Kingham truly represents a community you’d expect to find in a story book.
The Wild Rabbit Expect stripped back Cotswold stone walls, roaring open fires and soft leather arm chairs at the Wild Rabbit pub. Relax with a pint of Hooky and a plate of seasonal game while you soak up your rustic surroundings.
The Big Feastival Hosted by Blur bassist Alex James on his Cotswold farm every August Bank Holiday, foodies flock to this festival to celebrate music and delicious food courtesy of the country’s top chefs, street-food experts and musicians. (Returns August 2021.)
Rumoured to be the inspiration behind Tolkien’s ‘Weathertop’ in Lord of the Rings, the picturesque village of Mickleton is the northernmost village in Gloucestershire and lies where the Cotswolds meets Shakespeare Country. There’s an abundance of black and white thatched cottages interspersed with limestone architecture - creating a picture perfect Cotswold scene.
Mickleton and the Hidcotes walk Enjoy a steady two hour climb to experience great views over the Vale of Evesham, a ramble through two pretty hamlets and two spectacular open-gardens.
Once described by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village in England’, the chocolate box village of Bibury is one of England’s most iconic hamlets and home to the peaceful River Coln and some of the most photographed houses in the country.
Arlington Row This row of 14th century weaver’s cottages has been the foundation of Bibury for hundreds of years and is instantly recognisable as a symbol of the Cotswold District.
Bibury Trout Farm One of Britain’s oldest and most well-preserved trout farms offers a ‘catch your own’ fishery, a fish shop full of wines and deli products, and plenty of BBQs where you can cook your trout and enjoy the surrounding scenery.
If you’re looking for tea rooms, museums, cosy pubs and picture-book houses, Bourton-on-the-Water, fondly known as ‘the Venice of the Cotswolds’, has these in abundance. The clear waters of the River Windrush trickle through the village under small bridges and it’s full of golden stone cottages built many centuries ago.
Cotswold and Motoring Museum Prepare for a trip down memory lane with a vast collection of vehicles, toys and memorabilia from times gone by on display. The museum is also home to children’s TV favourite, Brum.
The Model Village Come and see the one-ninth scale replica village of Bourton-on-the-Water. With so much attention to detail, you can even hear choirs coming from the miniature church!
Beside the River Avon and at the foot of Bredon Hill marks the beginning of the Cotswolds district and the delightful village of Bredon. Steeped in history, the village is full of medieval barns, thatched cottages and Cotswold stone houses.
Bredon Hill In fact, it’s very hard to miss the hill as it can be seen from nine other counties. With a variety of paths and trails the hill is a haven for walkers and cyclists alike and when you get to the top, the surrounding views of the Cotswolds are well worth the hike.
Bredon Tithe Barn Built in the 14th century, the barn is superb example of medieval architecture. And although you cannot get inside, there are external steps to the solar, where you can peer in and view the interior.
The rural village of Ashton-under-Hill lies on the southern edge of Worcestershire and was once home to author Fred Archer - who based many of his books about country life on this picturesque Cotswold hamlet. The village has a long history with evidence strongly linking it back to the Roman occupation. These days, the village is scattered with cosy timber-framed cottages and pretty Victorian houses.
The Star Inn If you’re walking to the village from Bredon Hill, this popular, dog-friendly pub provides the perfect pit stop for a pint and a tasty home-made meal.
Village events From barn dances, and village fetes, to open gardens and Go Kart races, the village has an active community with a host of events happening throughout the year. Check out their website to see what’s on.
Naunton is a peaceful and unspoilt Cotswold village, nestled in Windrush Valley away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Cheltenham and Stow-on-the-Wold. Although you won’t find stately homes, museums and tearooms, this village is a relatively tourist-free place to take a picnic, admire the views of rolling Cotswold Hills and unwind.
The Black Horse Inn After a long walk in the surrounding countryside, this cosy pub is an ideal place to recuperate. There’s a varied seasonal selection of pub classics on the menu and plenty of traditional ales at the bar.
• Castle Combe
If you’re looking for a typical Cotswold village with limestone cottages, floral hanging baskets and stone-tiled roofs, Castle Combe should be at the top of your list. Situated on the Southern-most edge of the region, the village is a much-loved place to visit and it’s often been used as a backdrop for films such as Warhorse and Stardust.
The Town Bridge The bridge is one of the most photographed places in the village and the classic view is from across the bridge by the old weavers’ cottages, looking up Water Street.
A Step Back in Time tour For a friendly and informal insight into the history of village, book a Step Back in Time tour.