The Cotswolds - honey-coloured villages in gorgeous scenery

Beauty Spot

The Cotswolds - honey-coloured villages in gorgeous scenery

The Cotswolds is a particularly scenic and 'typically English' area in a central southern part of the country between Oxford and Gloucester around the Cotswold Hills. It is renowned for its rolling hills and pretty villages made of mellow local stone, winding country roads and picturesque farmland.

The character of the area is defined by the bedrock of Jurassic limestone that creates a type of grassland habitat rare in the UK. It has also been quarried for the golden-hued Cotswold stone, the tone of which gives local buildings their butter-coloured charm.

The Cotswold landscape broadly stretches around 25 miles across and 90 miles down from Stratford-on-Avon to just south of the city of Bath. Some of the best known 'chocolate box' villages and small towns include Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway, Burford, Chipping Campden, Chipping Norton, Castle Combe and Winchcombe.

The soft, predominantly rural, landscape sets off particularly well the many stone buildings, and a number of stately homes and gardens, including Blenheim Palace. The highest point of the region is Cleeve Hill at 1,083 ft (330 m), just east of Cheltenham. Another viewpoint is the Broadway Tower in Broadway Country Park, sometimes known as 'The Highest Little Castle in the Cotswolds'.

The area features a number of impressive gardens, arbotera and country parks open to the public, including Westonbirt Arboretum and National Trust properties such as Hidcote Manor.

Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966, the Cotswolds covers 787 square miles and, after the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks, is the third largest protected landscape in England and the largest AONB. It lies across the boundaries of several English counties; mainly Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and parts of Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire, and Warwickshire.

There is a long distance footpath through the area known as the Cotswold Way.

Further reading

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