The Cotswolds

Famous for their rolling hills and Jurassic limestone, the Cotswolds offer an idyllic British countryside experience with a unique landscape that you won’t find anywhere else. Studded with beautiful towns, villages and hamlets, there’s so much to do and see.

The Cotswolds cover 787 square miles, encompassing the counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. Within this area, you’ll find lots of beautiful scenery, quaint buildings and fascinating history.

It is the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England, and the second-largest protected landscape, after the Lake District. With a reputation for being quintessentially English, the Cotswolds attract millions of visitors every year from the UK and abroad.

Nature and Wildlife in the Cotswolds

I have always been interested in birds and wildlife, and have been a member of the RSPB since the age of 8. One of the reasons that I love the Cotswolds so much is the variety of beautiful nature and wildlife that can be found here.

The area is home to lots of different types of birds, including buzzards, red kites, pheasants and partridges, and I’m always excited to point them out on tours. You can also see gorgeous British flora like snowdrops, bluebells, daffodils, wisteria rosea and hollyhocks.

Of course, the British countryside isn’t complete without a variety of different trees and beautiful rivers, which the Cotswolds have in spades. Here, you’ll find the Avon, the Coln, the Windrush and even the world-famous River Thames, which flows South to London from its source in Gloucestershire.

Cotswold Limestone

The Cotswold area is famous for its yellow oolitic limestone, which has been quarried for centuries to create the stone-built towns that are so unique to the area.

The colour of the stone varies from north to south, so you’ll find honey-coloured buildings in northern villages such as Broadway, and pearl-white ones further south in Bath.

And don’t be surprised if you find a few fossils during your visit to the Cotswolds! The jurassic stone is rich in fossils, especially sea urchins, and they make for popular souvenirs.

Things to do in the Cotswolds

While you could spend weeks simply admiring the natural beauty of the Cotswolds, the area has much to offer in the way of attractions.

If you like to pick up a few local trinkets on your travels, the Cotswolds are home to many market towns and shopping streets selling handmade local goods and produce. For international tourists, this is a great opportunity to buy some traditional English treats to take home as souvenirs.

There are plenty of attractions for all ages. The Cotswold Farm Park is particularly popular with the little ones, as they can get hands-on with animals of all sizes and learn more about life on the farm. National Trust sites like Durham Park, Snowshill Manor and Lacock Abbey also make great family days out, with lots to see and do.

Fans of beautiful architecture and historic buildings will have plenty to do and see, as the Cotswolds are home to some of the country’s most stunning stately homes. Blenheim Palace is one of England’s largest houses, offering everything from beautifully landscaped grounds to intricately painted ceilings and murals. Highclere Castle’s breathtaking Jacobethan architecture is famous across the world as the main setting of the British period drama Downton Abbey.