27 May 2024
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The Cotswolds is a quintessentially English area covering the counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire, running from Bath in the South up to Chipping Campden in the North. Surrounded by a circle of ancient towns, including Cheltenham, Gloucester, Bath, Bristol, Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford, The Cotswolds has now been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Cotswolds is now popular for its pretty villages, with cottages made from the famous local honey-coloured limestone, babbling streams, old castles, ruined abbeys, medieval churches and beautiful rolling countryside. Examples of typical villages in the Cotswolds include Chipping Campden, Northleach, Bourton-on-the-Water and the Slaughters.

Walking in the Cotswolds is a popular pastime, a feature of the area being The Cotswolds edge (also known as The Cotswolds Hills), a limestone escarpment which rises above the Cotswold lowlands, extending for 100 miles in a north easterly direction from Bath to Edge Hill in Warwickshire. Walkers can enjoy views from the Cotswolds edge, particularly from Leckhampton or Cleeve Hills or Uley Bury. The Cotswold Way runs 105 miles right through the Cotswolds, linking some of the best Cotswold villages between Bath in the South and Chipping Campden in the North. For Cotswolds walks there are over 3000 miles of public footpath in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Cotswolds is also popular with fossil hunters, as there are a large number of fossils in the rock, the most accessible areas being Cleeve Hill and Leckhampton Hill.

The defensive advantages of The Cotswolds edge were realised by the Iron Age people, who built a great number of hillforts along it. The remains of these forts can still be found across the area today. In AD47, The Cotswolds were invaded by the Romans, and there are now excellent Roman visitor sites at Cirencester and Bath, and the Roman villas at Chedworth and Woodchester. The Romans roads of Fosse Way and Ermine Way can also be found crossing the Cotswolds. The Normans brought the sheep that made the Cotswolds the most prosperous area in Britain. The name "Cotswolds" is derived from "cot" for the stone sheep shelters and "wold" for the landscape undulations typical of the area. Evidence of the prosperity brought to the area can be seen today in the wonderful country houses (many now visitor attractions) and churches that the wealthy merchants built. Good examples of these churches can be found at Fairford, Cirencester, Northleach and Chipping Campden. The importance of the Cotswolds wool trade at the time is shown by the fact that The British Lord Chancellor still sits on a woolsack in the House of Lords Chamber. The wool trade lasted several centuries, but when it can to an end, there was nothing to replace it, and poverty struck the area. This meant that during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there was very little development in the Cotswolds towns and villages, and hence today The Cotswolds is a step back in time and one of the most popular UK tourist destinations.

Hotels in The Cotswolds are popular weekend getaways, and the ancient pubs in the Cotswolds offer the visitor excellent hospitality. Visitor attractions in the Cotswolds are numerous, and include hi-tech museums and country parks. We hope that our Cotswolds business directory will help you find the tourist information you are looking for. Please use the search box at the top of the page to find businesses in Gloucestershire and the rest of The Cotswolds.

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