Things to do in Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is situated at the northern edge of the south west region of Britain.
It covers an area of 1, 025 square miles including the largest Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the country.
Essentially a rural county, it has been known since Roman times for farming, forestry and its association with the wool trade.
The Roman road, The Fosse Way, runs through the county north to south, taking travellers from Cirencester to Stow-on-the-Wold and Moreton-in-Marsh, whilst The Ermin Way crosses east to west from Cirencester to Ross on Wye.
The Cotswolds is the most famous area of Gloucestershire, named for the band of limestone hills covering half of the County. The steep scarp edge to the west runs down the middle of Gloucestershire, sloping eastwards to the valley of the River Thames.
The Cotswolds is known and loved for its gentle hillsides ('wolds'), breathtaking gardens, fine houses, historic churches, known as 'wool churches', and picturesque villages of mellow stone cottages, nestling in the valleys.
It has been said that Gloucestershire has the most diverse geology of all the English counties; creating a wide range of landscape, flora and fauna, heritage and attractions.
Tewkesbury has fine examples of half-timbered houses, while Stroud has a rich industrial heritage.
Today, the larger market towns and villages of the Cotswolds, such as Stow-on-the-Wold, Cirencester, Chipping Norton and Tetbury, are famous for their wide range of unique and interesting shops including many fine antique shops. There are hundreds of villages to discover, not all are well known and still hold their secrets, so explore and enjoy!
Amongst the treasures to be found off the beaten track are Upper and Lower Slaughter, Snowshill, Winchcombe (home to Sudeley Castle) and Bibury, or happen upon an unspoilt historic church, such as at Northleach, often called the "Cathedral of the Cotswolds" - open the church door and you will discover a hidden world of history.
Coleford is a good base from which to explore the Forest of Dean area. The Royal Forest of Dean is one of Britain's ancient hunting forests, one of the most unspoilt areas in England, with over 100 square kilometres of woodland still standing. Disused railway lines are being reopened for cycling routes, suitable for families. The River Wye forming the western boundary of the County, offers water sports and many other activities. Coleford is also home to the Great Western Railway Museum.
The River Severn meets the River Avon at the medieval town of Tewkesbury, where the Gloucestershire Tourist Information centre will provide fuller information on 'The Severn Bore' - a naturally occurring tidal wave, which can be seen on the lower reaches of the River Severn. The estuary is a haven for thousands of wildfowl and wading birds.
Britain's largest water park is situated in the south east corner of the County - the Cotswold Water Park is an increasingly important wetland area, offering a greater area of water than the Norfolk Broads. It is a centre for water sports, nature conservation, walking, cycling and angling.
Gloucestershire has some of the finest countryside in all of England. The landscape has evolved over centuries as generations of people have moulded it through agriculture, architecture and planning, to provide for their needs.
Gloucestershire also encompasses the busy city of Bristol, which combines its maritime and architectural heritage with excellent tourist attractions, shopping and entertainment, and the World Heritage city of Bath which has some of the finest architectural sites in Europe.
Days out in Gloucestershire
The earliest verifiable recorded history of Batsford Park, of which the Batsford Arboretum forms the central part, dates back to the Freeman family who owned the estate in the early part of the 17th Century.
In 1153 Maurice Berkeley completed this fortress by the Severn Estuary at the command of Henry II, and ever since has been the home of the Berkeley family.
Birdland is set in woodland, river and gardens, this natural setting is inhabited by over 500 birds
Bourton House Garden
The Cotswolds' best kept secret! An award-winning three acre garden surrounding a fine 18th century Manor House and Grade I listed 16th century Tithe Barn.
This historic Elizabethan house, home of the Lowsley-Williams family, contains much of interest to the discerning visitor. Visitors can see the tapestry rooms and furniture and relics of the Cromwellian period.
Chedworth Roman Villa
Access to main mosaics reopens fully Spring 2012! If you want to visit the National Trust's oldest stately home, the Chedworth Roman Villa is the site to visit!
Clearwell Caves Ancient Iron Mines
When you visit Clearwell Caves you are entering some of the very oldest underground workings in Britain.
Cotswold Falconry Centre
Cotswold Falconry invites you to a spectacular demonstration with a large variety of birds of prey flying free. This gives a remarkable insight into the ancient art of falconry.
Cotswold Farm Park
The Home of Rare Breed Conservation offers the chance to meet over 50 flocks and herds of British rare-breed farm animals.
Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection
The museum is bulging with great cars, quaint caravans, precarious looking motorcycles, enamel signs and an intriguing collection of motoring curiosities!
Dean Heritage Centre
Situated in a converted former mill in the picturesque Soudley Valley, the Dean Heritage Centre is the ideal starting point for a visit to the Forest.
The impressive baroque mansion of Dyrham Hall was principally developed by William Blathwayt. He married Mary Wynter in 1686 and on the death of her father began work on the neglected manor house.
Edward Jenner Museum
Edward Jenner was born in Berkeley in 1749. Orphaned before he was 5 years old, his brothers and sisters set him on a career of medicine.
A warm welcome awaits you at Gloucester Cathedral - one of the finest medieval buildings in the country and the jewel in the city of Gloucester's crown.
Gloucester Waterways Museum
The Gloucester Waterways Museum is housed in an original Victorian warehouse in Gloucester's Historic docks.
Gloucester Waterways Museum - Trips
Gloucester Waterways Museum run 45 minute boat trips from Merchants Quay, Gloucester Docks, travelling down the Gloucester Sharpness Canal.
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
The Gloucester Warwickshire Railway is in the process of rebuilding and restoring part of the former Cheltenham to Stratford-upon-Avon mainline as a heritage railway. Currently operating from Toddington to Gotherington.
Great Western Railway Museum (Coleford)
The Great Western Railway Museum is housed in one of the last remaining permanent railway buildings in the Forest of Dean, on the original site of Coleford Railway Yard. It is the original GWR Goods Station of 1883.
Hailes Abbey is to be found nestling in the beautiful Cotswold countryside. Built in the 13th century by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, Hailes became famous when presented with a phial that was said to contain the blood of Christ.
Hidcote Manor Garden
Hidcote Manor Garden is one of those gardens which can only be found in England! It was created by keen horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston, on a Cotswold property bought for him by his mother.
International Centre for Birds of Prey
Once more under the direction of Jemima Parry-Jones, the Centre has undergone a substantial facelift and everything has been upgraded. Please come to visit.
Kelmscott Manor, a grade 1 listed Tudor farmhouse adjacent to the River Thames, was the summer home of William Morris from 1871 until his death in 1896. Morris loved the house as a work of true craftsmanship, totally unspoilt and unaltered.
Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate
Gloucestershire is well known for its fine Regency architecture and gracious spa towns, and Lodge Park was built in keeping with this affluent lifestyle.
Lydney Park Gardens
Lydney Park Gardens is open during the Spring and on certain days in the summer as part of the National Garden Scheme (Yellow Book).
Built as a hunting lodge around 1550, this tall, symmetrical building with its mullioned windows reflects the sophisticated style of the Elizabethan court rather than that of a local country house.
Owlpen Manor and Gardens is closed for restoration during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Painswick Rococo Gardens
The sole, complete survivor from the brief Rococo period of English garden design (1720-1760).
Prinknash Abbey Bird and Deer Park
On entering the Park over 50 peacocks and waterfowl welcome you as you walk towards the Love Bird Aviary and the Golden Wood full of golden Pheasants .
Rodmarton Manor, near Cirencester in Gloucestershire, was one of the last country houses to be built in the old traditional style when everything was done by hand with local stone, local timber and local craftsmen.
Few places are more historic than the lovely Tudor buildings which make up Snowshill manor. Beautifully built in local Cotswold stone, the existing modest house was built between the 15th and 18th Century.
Stanway House and Fountain
Stanway House, an outstandingly beautiful example of a Jacobean manor house is situated near Winchcombe in the glorious Gloucestershire countryside and is now the setting for a 300ft single jet gravity fountain - the tallest fountain in Britain.
Stanway Water Garden
One of the finest 18th century water gardens, restored in 1998, Stanway lies beneath the 700 foot high Cotswold escarpment. Its grand formal Canal, with 165 foot high fountain , stands on a great grass terrace overlooking the Jacobean manor house.
Sudeley Castle Gardens & Exhibitions
Award winning gardens and medieval ruins surround Sudeley Castle, which sits nestled in the Cotswold Hills on the edge of the historic town of Winchcombe.
Westbury Court Garden
Westbury Court Garden offers a little touch of the Netherlands in the heart of Gloucestershire.
Westonbirt The National Arboretum
Westonbirt - The National Arboretum, in the South Cotswolds, is one of the most magical and important tree gardens in the world. With over 600 acres of picturesque historic landscape
Hidden in a secluded Cotswold valley, untouched by time and the modern world, lies Woodchester Mansion, an unfinished masterpiece of Victorian building.
Places to Visit in Gloucestershire
Arlingham is a delightful unspoiled village in the Horseshoe Bend of the River Severn. Off juncton 13 of the M5, head for Frampton on Severn then go straight through the vilaage, keep left over the canal for 3 m.
Seven miles north-east of Cirencester, Bibury is on the southern edge of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding National Beauty.
The large village of Bishops Cleeve is situated at the bottom of Cleeve Hill, three miles north of Cheltenham in the picturesque Cotswolds.
Bourton-on-the-Hill is a charming Cotswold village in a beautiful area of Gloucestershire. From its hillside location it overlooks the larger village of Moreton-in-Marsh on the famous Fosse-Way.
Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the showpieces of the Cotswolds, its picturesque beauty and charm make it a favourite place for visitors. The sparkling clear water of the River Windrush flows through the main street.
Bristol - the Capital of the West Country - is famous for its tourist attractions, maritime heritage and excellent shopping. It has wonderful architecture, lots of engineering history, a first class university and great night life.
Cheltenham is one of Britain's finest Spa towns, set in a sheltered position between the rolling Cotswold Hills and the Severn Vale, it enjoys a mild and pleasant climate. Cheltenham became famous as a Spa in the late 18th century.
The historic town of Chipping Campden in north Gloucestershire is a Mecca for visitors, from home and abroad. Chipping Campden is set on the edge of the Cotswolds.
The town at the heart of the Forest of Dean. Cinderford grew up at the point where the Littledean to Coleford Road crossed Bideford Brook (known also as Cinderford or Soudley Brook).
Cirencester is a busy market town, situated in the southern Cotswolds, often referred to as the Capital of the Cotswolds.
The market town of Coleford, known to have been in existence from 1275, has an attractive centre. The Clock Tower is all that remains of the original church built in 1821and demolished in 1882.
This idyllic Gloucestershire village takes its name from the fast flowing River Coln, which flows from the Cotswolds and eventually feeds into the mighty Thames.
Down Ampney is the birthplace of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. In the bell tower of the old church, there is a modest exhibit about his life.
Overlooked by the Cotswold Hills, in the lush Severn valley, the city of Gloucester is perfectly located and easily accessible, from all corners of the country. Whatever you're length of stay, you'll find there's so much to see and do.
The small hamlet of Little Witcombe is in Gloucestershire, just off the M5 and within striking distance of Gloucester.
There has been a settlement at Lydney ever since Roman times. It is thought that Lydney Park was a significant Roman settlement with a temple, bath house and guest house dating back to the 4th century.
The Cotswold village of Mickleton has lots of things to do and see. This article is a great guide to the best local attractions and villages worth visiting.
Moreton-in-Marsh, the lovely old market town in the north Cotswolds, grew up around the Fosse Way, the old Roman road which runs through the wide main street.
Newent is the smallest of the four towns in the Forest of Dean District and lies in the North West corner of the county of Gloucestershire, known for many years as the capital of the Ryelands.
Staple Hill is a suburb of Bristol which comes under the administrative control of the South Gloucestershire Local Authority. The strange name 'Staple Hill' may derive from the old English word 'steap' meaning 'steep'
Stow-on-the-Wold is the highest of the Cotswold towns, situated at the meeting place of eight roads. Stow was the most important market town in the north Cotswolds when the sale of the sheep and wool was at its height.
The Gloucestershire market town of Stroud is ten miles south of Gloucester and is a popular destination for tourists visiting the scenic Cotswolds.
Tewkesbury is a medieval gem famed for its timber framed buildings. An ancient settlement situated at the meeting of the rivers Avon and Severn, a delight for those seeking 'Olde England'
The idyllic Cotswolds village of Toddington in Gloucestershire it is 12 miles north east of Cheltenham.
The village of Upper Slaughter lies two miles beyond the better-known Lower Slaughter, just off the A429 trunk road between Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the Wold. This area is, without any doubt, one of the most beautiful in England
Westbury-on-Severn is an attractive rural village situated, as its name suggests, on the River Severn. It is noted for its most unusual parish church which has a separate steeple.