Local Area Information
The Cotswolds is designated as England's largest 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' with spectacular with breath-taking scenery - as an area it's 100 miles north to south, with gently rolling countryside of hills and steep valleys, picturesque stone villages that are often referred to as the 'Undiscovered Cotswolds'.
Villages such as Slad and Painswick cling to steep-sided valleys, old woollen mills can be found alongside the streams, and commons stretch across the hilltops at Painswick, Minchinhampton and Selsley. Slad was the setting for the author and poet Laurie Lee's book 'Cider with Rosie'.
The Laurie Lee Wildlife Way is a 9km circular walk that takes in all four Nature Reserves and the trail is marked by wooden posts carved with the famous authors poems. People come from all over Europe to see the beauty of these valleys.
For walking routes in and around the local area click this link for maps and descriptions of routes.
Wysis Way passes through Slad. The Wysis Way is a long distance footpath which links Offa’s Dyke path National trail at Monmouth to the beginning of the Thames Path National trail at Kemble in Gloucestershire and the more popular Cotswold Way passes through Painswick.
Here in the South West Cotswolds the area has denser woodland and a wilder nature, especially in the five valleys around Stroud, which Painswick is considered to be the ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’. Undulating areas of pastureland and ancient woodland make this unspoilt valley unique. Boasting 140 designated footpaths, from leisurely strolls through the woods, to steep climbs and wonderful views, these are a wonder not to be missed. You will be away from the crowds of tourists you find in the north Cotswolds and you will feel like you have discovered something special.
There are endless great walks, picnic sites and views. Here are just a few:
Snows Farm Nature reserve – Just across the Slad Valley you'll find a mixture of meadow, woodland and utter tranquility. Stunning.
Swift’s Nature Reserve – a steep climb brings you breath-taking views and 13 species of wild orchid, overlooking Slad Valley and across the Severn to Wales. Adjacent to Laurie Lee Wood, another beautiful ancient woodland, named after the valley's most famous former resident.
Frith Wood Nature Reserve - this lovely ancient beech wood is brimming with wildlife including deer, just up hill from the cottage and through here you can walk to Painswick.
Painswick Rococo Garden and Misarden Park Gardens are all within easy reach of Slad.
Rodborough Common - a favourite picnic site, overlooking the next valley.
Selsley Common (4 miles) - fantastic hill-top views and wonderful wildlife.
Roman Villa (6 miles) - the remains of a large and luxurious Roman villa built around AD250, with bathhouse complex.
Castles and gardens
Here are some of the most popular local places to visit:
Painswick Rococo Garden – the last remaining Rococo garden, carefully restored using an original painting as a blueprint, and boasting a brand new Anniversary Maze.
Woodchester Mansion (6 miles) – an unfinished Gothic masterpiece – suspended in time but revealing many of its structural secrets. Check the website for open days.
Prinknash Abbey, and the adjoining Prinknash Bird Park (2 miles) – the serene promontory setting of a modern abbey, pottery and tearooms, combined with a perfect venue for children who will enjoy the pygmy goats, baby deer and feeding trout.
Westonbirt Arboretum (17 miles) – stunning landscaped grounds, which are home to some of the world’s tallest, oldest and rarest trees.
Delight the children with a visit to Cattle Country (17 miles) – an outdoor Adventure Playground and indoor chutes, slides, and scramble nets.
Ornothologists should visit Slimbridge Wetland Centre (13 miles), the only place in Britain to see all six varieties of flamingo!
And there's more.....the Dr Jenner Museum set amidst a splendid tree collection overlooking the lake in Stroud's Stratford Park, Stroud's Museum in the park displays elements of the District's local history and never before on view. Free enterance with fantasic events for kids during half terms and holidays.
Within a short drive you can also discover historic houses, such as Owlpen Manor (11 miles) and Chavenage (14 miles) where the BBC series 'Poldark' was filmed, Sudley Castle and gardens (21 miles) and Kelmsoctt Manor, William Morris country home, referred to as 'heaven on earth'.
Towns and villages
You could spend a week just driving around the honey-coloured market towns and villages of the Cotswolds admiring the timeless beauty of this unspoilt part of England.
The official Cotswolds tourist site lists most of the best places.
Cheltenham nestles against The Cotswolds as the perfect place to unwind and refresh mind, body and soul. With unique festival vibes, an abundance of independent and much-loved high-street shops, and incredible dining experiences from street food to Michelin starred fine dining.
Cirencester (2nd largest Roman town in Britain during Roman times) contains may interesting buildings and is a lovely market town.
Tetbury, is a must. Full of antique shops and a range of delightful stores. The most famous being Prince Charles’ food shop, and Highgrove's gardens are now open to explore.
Bibury is a charming, typically Cotswold village, just a short drive away very picturesque and with a great trout farm, will be busy in peak tourist season. Winchcombe and (when it's less crowded, out of season) the incredibly twee Bourton-on-the-Water with its bird park and miniature village.
Do visit Historic Bath and its world famous Roman Baths and Therma Spa.
We also love Bisley, Miserden, Sheepscombe and Minchinhampton all very close by.
Local area used in films and TV production
’Bridgerton’ is the latest hot steamy period drama on Netflix that everyone is talking about. Gloucestershire’s very own Badminton Estate forms part of Clyvedon Castle, the fictional abode of the Duke of Hastings.
'Poldark' a BBC drama used Chavenage House and the Cotswolds as a location. Chavenage House, between Nailsworth and Tetbury, is the setting for the Poldark family's Cornish home. Chavenage House was also used in the recent adaptation of 'Wolf Hall.' The success of this historical drama also shone a light on other south Cotswolds' locations such as Berkeley Castle. Its inner bailey and Great Hall can be spotted in various scenes.
Viewers of BBC1’s ‘The Casual Vacancy’ may have spotted the beautiful locations used in the Stroud District. The fictitious village of Pagford is not just one village, but a mix of Painswick, Minchinhampton and Bisley (as well as Northleach and Burford). While the buildings housing Samantha’s Boudoir and Pagford Library can be found in Painswick, Barry Fairbrother’s house was in Bisley. The Mollison family party was held in Minchinhampton's Market House. Pagford Church is actually a combination of Painswick and Bisley churches.
Gloucesters historic cathedral cloisters were transformed into the corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the films of JK Rowlings first two books Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
If you are able – DO book a ticket to the famous local Gifford’s Circus during their 6-month tour through Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and London. They’re home is based on the opposite side of the valley and open and close the season with shows you can walk to at the farm.
Looking to book a Gloucestershire self catering holiday rental? Woodbine Cottage offers a perfect self - catering Cotswolds holiday accommodation. Available for holiday rentals and short breaks all year. Sleeps 8.