With its medieval honey-stone villages, dreamy rolling countryside and rich heritage, the Cotswolds are rural England at its best. Straddling the counties of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, and just two hours from London, the Cotswolds offer a chance to unwind and enjoy superb hospitality in historic manor houses and traditional pubs, go antiquing, visit some of England’s finest gardens or get off the beaten track on a rambling cross-country walk.
At one end of the Cotswolds, the academic city of Oxford provides a chance to wander through the quadrangles and dreaming spires of Britain’s oldest university, try your hand at punting on the willow-lined banks of the Thames and visit some of the country’s most important museums. Blenheim Palace in nearby Woodstock is arguably the country’s finest stately home, and you can explore its Churchill and Lady Diana connections or take in the magnificent Capability Brown designed landscaped gardens. At the other end, historic Bath lets you delve into Britain’s Roman history, follow in the literary footsteps of Jane Austen and marvel at the fabulous Regency architecture of Royal Crescent.
But it’s the magical undulating landscapes of the Cotswolds themselves, dotted with ancient honey-colored limestone villages like Chipping Campden, Bibury and Broadway and thatched inns that date back to the Middle Ages that are likely to linger longest. Spend a few days in the Cotswolds and you can enjoy some wonderful walking, visit world-famous gardens like Hidcote and fairy-tale castles like Sudeley, or search for antiques in some of the many fine shops. For a real treat, and a chance to experience the Cotswolds from an entirely different perspective, take a hot-air balloon ride and glide serenely over this most quintessential of English landscapes.