Category: Location

THE COTSWOLD, WHY VISIT, TOWNS AND VILLAGES

The Cotswold is a beautiful region located in the central southwestern side of England. The region is known for its picturesque rural landscapes which contain stone-built villages and towns made from the popular golden-coloured Cotswold stone.

The region is famous for its natural beauty and magical scenery. This beautiful countryside region has it all, a place for the perfect romantic getaway. From the honey-coloured buildings made from the Cotswold stone to the well-preserved medieval castles that make you feel as if you have travelled back in time, the Cotswold is a truly magical place.

Cotswolds Hill and Severn Valley

TOWNS AND VILLAGES IN THE COTSWOLD

The Cotswold has some of the most beautiful towns and villages in England. The villages are nestled amongst green rolling hills, with each having its own distinct characteristics that set it apart from the others.

A visit to these villages will definitely make you spellbound by their uniqueness and the serene environment. The Cotswold is one of the best places to live in the UK. Here are some of the villages and towns in the Cotswold.

Arlington Row, Bibury
  • BIBURY

Famous artist, William Morris once described Bibury as the most beautiful village in the Cotswold. In fact, a picture of this village is printed on all UK passports! Then it must definitely be more beautiful than advertised as pictures can’t capture it all.

Situated in Bibury is the Arlington Row, a row of stone cottages that is one of the most photographed in the UK. These stone cottages align with the River Coln so beautifully it’s almost magical.

Bibury also boasts of Rack Isle, a pleasant water meadow that is home to many plant species and animals like kingfishers, water voles, grass snakes and so on. The meadow got its name from its original use. A long time ago, it was where wool was hung out to dry after washing them in Arlington row.

Another popular tourist attraction for people who love to fish is the Bibury trout farm. It is one of the oldest trout farms in Britain.

Visiting Bibury is one of the best things to do in the Cotswold.

Burford, Cotswold
  • BURFORD

Burford is a historic town that lies at the entrance of the Cotswold. It is often referred to as the gateway to the Cotswold. The town is set on the River Windrush, an exquisite town with loads of history to see and experience.

The town has a lot of medieval churches, dating as far back as 1175. It is also home to the oldest pharmacy in the United Kingdom, Reavley’s Pharmacy. The pharmacy is a family-owned business, that has been open since 1734.

The streets in Burford are lined with old pubs, cafes and quaint little shops where you can buy exotic antiques and gift items.

What makes the Cotswold special is how it has been able to preserve its old features.

Picturesque, Cirencester
  • CIRENCESTER

Cirencester is known as the capital of the Cotswold. Like most of the villages and towns in Cotswold, it has several historical buildings.

However, one thing that sets it apart is that it is considered a business hub. In fact, it has been labelled as a market town for over a thousand years now, till the present. Cirencester has its market day every Monday and Friday.

Another thing worthy to note is the pastel-coloured shopfront that beautifully arches along the market square to the Parish Church of St. John Baptist.

  • BROADWAY

Broadway is a perfect holiday destination and can serve as your base to explore all that Cotswold has to offer.

The quaint village has a lot of historical hotels that have lodges important people. For example, the Lygon Arms goes as far back as the 14th century and has hosted a lot of historical figures like King Charles 1.

To the present day, the hotel still hosts important dignitaries like Elizabeth Taylor and Prince Phillip.

Just at the outskirt of the town is the Broadway Tower, situated on top of a hill, majestically overlooking the town itself.

The tower is a perfect place to have a picnic during summer. A visit to Broadway during the summer months will also allow you to see the best lavender fields in England, located at the south of Broadway.

Painswick Beacon
  • PAINSWICK

This village is as pretty as a picture. The village sits elegantly on top of a hill which gives an elegant view of the valley below. You could get blissfully lost in time in the streets and alleyways lined with the famous Cotswold stone houses.

The view in this village is nothing short of stunning! The buildings have plaques on them, telling the interesting history of when it was built and what it was originally used for. The village in general has a lot of informative boards, detailing its history.

One of the many things Painswick is famous for is its 99 yew trees located within the Painswick Church Gardens. Another is the Rococo gardens, which display an 18th-century-style garden.

The village is also home to the oldest building that houses a post office in England which dates back to the late 15th century

WHY VISIT THE COTSWOLD

Aside from the beautiful views, magical scenery and interesting history, many people wonder if this beautiful region has more to offer. Yes! It does. There are just a lot of things to do in the Cotswold. Apart from all these, the Cotswold is a fully packaged destination that you should visit for the following reasons:

  • A SHOPPER’S PARADISE

The Cotswold offers a fantastic shopping experience for visitors. Its many villages and towns have a lot of boutiques and shops that sell unique and quality goods. If you are looking for a place to shop for arts and antiques, the Cotswold is the place!

After London, Cotswold has the highest number of arts and antique shops. There are art galleries that host regular exhibitions and feature local artists.

  • A FOODIE’S DREAM

The Cotswold is a perfect place for a food tour to enjoy delicious and healthy meals from a different culture. There are many delis and farm shops that offer both tourists and locals sumptuous foods and drinks that are produced locally. You can be guaranteed maximum satisfaction.

Also, there are loads of exquisite restaurants with a cool ambience where you can relax, enjoy the scenery and indulge in some soulful meals and drinks.

  • A PERFECT FAMILY/FRIENDS GETAWAY

The Cotswold offer the perfect family getaway as there are loads of activities for families or a group of friends to do. If you are looking for a fun destination for a family or friend vacation, with interesting activities to keep you busy throughout, Cotswold is the place.

You can enjoy the Cotswold Wildlife Park which is one of the UK’s largest zoological collections and gardens. You can have a lot of fun exploring and learning in the pick.

The Cotswold Water Park is another place for fun activities. The park is home to the UK’s largest inland beach. There are loads of fun and leisure activities that can be done in the park.

  • AN HISTORICAL TOUR

The Cotswold is steeped in history and has so many historical sites you can visit. For example, you can visit the Chedworth Roman Villa, one of the grandest Roman villas in Britain.

There is also the Avebury Ring, one of the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain. Another is the Sudeley Castle, once home to Queen Catherine Parr, the last surviving wife of Henry VIII.

  • EXHILARATING EVENTS

The Cotswold boasts of some high-profile events, packed full of fun! Some of these events include the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, The Cotswold show, The Big Festival, The Royal International Air Tattoo and so on.

  • BEAUTIFUL ARCHITECTURES AND MAGICAL VIEWS

One of the many things the Cotswold is famous for is its amazing scenery and historical architecture. While you are here, you can enjoy a mix of magical fairytales and history with its spectacular countryside views, green rolling hills and majestic honey-coloured stone buildings.

You can enjoy amazing views from Cleve Hill which is the highest point in the Cotswold, where you can get a breathtaking view sweeping from Gloucestershire to Cheltenham. There is also a Broadway tower from where you can see 16 countries on a clear day. Dover’s hill which is a 230-meter natural amphitheatre is also such a spectacle.

Conclusion:

The Cotswold is one of the best places to live in the UK. It is also home to some of the most beautiful villages and destinations in the country. Although, the Cotswold is quite expensive to live in, it is easy to see why many still want to go there.

Categories:

Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat Reviews – Best area to stay in the Lake District

For anyone looking for the best place to stay in the Lake District Nature Reserve, Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat should be one of the places to consider.

In this article, I want to share with you our family staycation in the Lake District Nature Reserve and our accommodation at the incredible Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat

Why should consider a holiday in the Lake District and why stay in Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat? Please stay with me as I share our family experiences at the Lake District in Cumbria.

As an African immigrant family who has lived in the United Kingdom for many years, we’ve always liked to explore the UK. Staycation in the UK is a high priority for us.

We have been to many parts of the UK including Cornwall, Somerset, Cotswolds, Scotland, and Wales. We’ve done many beach holidays and forests. But we’ve never been to a Nature Reserves.

This time we decided to take a long drive from the Cotswold where we live to the Lake District. We wanted to explore the lovely Cumbria so we choose Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat as our accommodation.

Reception and welcome

The customer service at Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat is very good. We arrived in the evening and while we were on our way we received a call from the reception asking about our possible arrival time for check-in.

The reception closes at 8 pm so they wanted to make arrangements for our check-in if we would arrive after 8 pm.

Eventually, we arrived there before the reception closes. We were made to feel welcome, and the receptionist was quite cordial. The box with the key and a piece of paper with a park map and other crucial information was provided.

The location of our accommodation was pointed out to us. The receptionist also provided us with directions to our lodge.

Park Facilities

Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat offers a special getaway in the stunning Lake District.

Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat is one of the Darwin Escape holiday parks. The park has all the important facilities like a gym, an on-site spa which has a sauna, and a restaurant as well as a corner shop. 

This is a small park and a retreat, for people who have young kids, this isn’t a park that has all the fun activities for families and kids. We’ve been to a lot of holiday parks in the UK, especially the Haven parks. Majority of the holiday parks we’ve been to have swimming pools and activities for kids. This park is a retreat that wasn’t advertised as a family fun resort.

While Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat does not have activities for kids, we will still highly recommend it for families because of the tranquillity, and calm and peaceful environment.

I will share our experiences about the accommodation further down in this post. In the meantime, the uniqueness and the luxury factor of the accommodation are one of the reasons why you should choose the Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat. 

For us, we used Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat as our accommodation while we explore the Lake District Nature Reserves.

Accommodation at Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat

I have to say the accommodation at Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat is the best accommodation we’ve stayed in so far in our staycation in the UK. The one that is similar standard is the Center Parcs but this one might be better. 

We stayed in an elegant lodge which featured a stylish interior.

There is a balcony with chairs and a table just by the patio sliding door. As you enter through the main single door, you will see straight away that you are about to experience a luxury lodge. The accommodation is very clean I must say.

Entrance

The entrance is very spacious. There is a carpet to step into to avoid carrying dirt inside. On the left is a space where you can put your shoes and a small table. There is a shelf where you could put your keys and other things.

Hooks are available for your coat, jumper, and jacket. Also at the entrance, there is a rack for boots and wellington boots for drying.

Kitchen

The first part of the accommodation that jumped at me is the kitchen island which we really enjoyed using for our cooking.

There are two bar chairs at the kitchen island where the person cooking or someone else can seat while cooking is going on.  There is the extractor which is very useful to avoid stuffiness while cooking. 

The living area and kitchen are open plan and this is similar to most of the holiday accommodation we’ve seen in our staycation in the UK.

The oven and microwave are above one another in integrated style.

Kettle for hot water, toaster for toasting your breads,  these are all available. The fridge freezer is not a small size. It is the size you will see in an average home in the UK.

Cooking pans, dishes, cutlery, and glasses are all available. Other essential kitchen utensils are all available for a wonderful eating and cooking experience. The washing machine and dishwasher are also available in the kitchen area.

I must not forget the wine cooler where I kept my wine and it was very useful because it kept my wine at the perfect temperature.

Living room

We had a wonderful family time seating in the living room. The sofas were very comfortable. The wooden center table looks beautiful. We found a food basket on the table where we put our fruits.

The living area with the dining and kitchen were all laminate flooring. Only the bedroom had carpets.

Dining

The dining area is very spacious and has a round table with four chairs which were very good for us family of four. They put salt and paper on the dining table. I particularly liked the wooden table mats and coasters.

Internet and TV

There is free WiFi which is at a reasonable speed. This is a public internet network and might not be secure so take caution in using it for personal information.

The TV has the usual national channels like BBC, ITV, and Channel 4. There is a section of the TV where you can select a movie to watch but you will need to pay for the movie.

We were a bit disappointed that the TV is not a Smart TV that can allow us to watch catchup streaming. Perhaps in the future, they will have a smart TV in the lodges.

Bedrooms

We are family of four, we had a lodge that sleeps four people. There are two rooms. The main room has a double-size bed while the second room has two single beds which were good enough for our two boys.

I must not forget to mention that both room sizes are much bigger than other resorts we’ve been to. The bedrooms had carpet beautifully laid.

Both rooms have a TV fixed on the wall and a bedside table with an outlet above that you can use to charge your mobile phone or use to plug in electronic devices. There are flexible lights by the bedside which can be very useful for reading while on the bed.

There are wardrobes in both rooms with hangers. The master bedroom has iron, iron board and airer perhaps for drying cloths after washing in the washing machine.

Washroom

The washroom is very spacious. The washroom in both bedrooms is similar. Both rooms are en-suite.

The washroom comprises of WC, a sink with a large mirror above the sink, a bath, and a shower. The showroom is very clean with the tiles and flooring shining.

Grocery shopping

We had our grocery shopping at the local Lidl in Cockermouth before checking. We are fans of Lidl and Aldi simply because they always have reasonable prices.  

The Lidl is about 15min away from the park. There is also an Aldi at Cockermouth. You could also try the Lakes and Dales Co-Operative at Keswick which is about 17min away. There is also the option of ordering groceries that can be delivered to the Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat.

There is a corner shop at Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat but it’s very small. You should also expect to pay more for the items in the corner shop at the resort.

Restaurant

There is a restaurant on site but we didn’t try the restaurant so I can’t say much about it. We walk in just to see the environment of the restaurant.

It was very clean and well organized. We cooked our food when in the lodge and eat out when we are outside the park exploring the Lake District.

Things to do

Look at the best things to do in Cumbria and the Lake District and start planning your next perfect escape.

For us, our aim was to explore the Lake District National Reserve and we use Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat as our accommodation in the Lake District. There is a lot to do in the area.

These are some of the best things to do in Cumbria and the Lake District.

The Lakes

The closest of the Lakes to Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat is Bassenthwaite Lake which is less than 10mins away. There are a number of lake viewpoints.

As you drive on the roads you will see cars parked at various viewpoints where you can also park and the footpaths or steps down to experience the lake.

Lake District from its name is known for lakes. There are around sixteen lakes in the Lake District. Aside from Bassenthwaite Lake, you can also take a trip to see the other lakes and perhaps take a walk around the lakes or participate in some water activities or sports.

The largest of the Lakes is Windermere. Other lakes include Coniston Water, Ullswater, and Derwentwater.

Lake District Wildlife Park

For people who love animals, you will enjoy the Lake District Wildlife Park.

There is a lot to see, including falconry demonstrations, discussions about more exotic creatures, and frequent feedings of the animals. Tractor rides and an adventure playground are available. Additional fees apply for animal encounters and experiences.

There are a number of animal talks or shows at different times during the day. At the wildlife park, we particularly enjoyed the reptile and insect shows where we learned a lot.

Lakes Distillery

The Lakes Distillery is one of the tourist attractions of the Lake Districts. You can take a tour of the Distillery

The tour will give you exclusive access to a sample tasting of The Lakes Single Malt Quatrefoil Faith, and a variety of maturing spirits from sherry and bourbon casks. The tasting will be exclusively hosted in the Lakes Distillery Boardroom.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

You can uncover the mysteries of Castlerigg Stone Circle.

Of all the stone circles in Britain, Castlerigg has one of the most spectacular and atmospheric settings, with sweeping views and the Helvellyn and High Seat mountains serving as a backdrop.

It was established in the Neolithic era around 3000 BC, making it one of the earliest British circles.

Keswick Market Town

Keswick, which is sandwiched between the massive Skiddaw and the serene beauty of Derwentwater, has emerged as the main tourist destination in the northern Lake District.

Visitors can enjoy a variety of attractions in this charming market town, including unique museums, unique shops, and boat tours around Lake Derwentwater. Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat is located less than 10 miles from the historic town of Keswick.

Final Thoughts

We had a wonderful time at Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat. I will strongly recommend this resort to anyone interested in exploring Cumbria and the Lake District.

We have seen a lot of accommodations in our staycations in the UK. This resort has exceptional accommodation and environment.  If you have been thinking about exploring the Lake District, stop thinking and start planning your trip.

I produced a video where I give you a tour of the Keswick Reach Lodge. Click on the link below to watch the video.

https://youtu.be/dZeaLaWNX-o

Categories:

What is it like living in the Cotswold?

There is no doubt Cotswold is one of the most beautiful regions of England. The Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a gem in the Cotswold area because of the beautiful landscape and the rolling hills.

The Cotswold walkway is one of the amazing features of the Cotswold area. It extends from the quintessentially English market town of Chipping Campden to the Roman city of Bath. The distance Cotswold walkway is 102 miles (164 km).

Cotswolds pretty villages, cities, and towns

Cotwolds major towns have a rich history

Technically Gloucester City and Cheltenham Town are not in Cotswold. However, they are both at the boundary line of the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the West. The City of Bath is also at the boundary of Cotswold AONB in the South. Oxford though not at the boundary of Cotswold AONB but not far off to the AONB in the Eastern part.

Traveling to these cities and towns gives you the opportunity to enjoy large urban areas within a short travel from the Cotswold interior. You can have easy access to the richness of the history of these amazing cities and towns.

Cotswold villages are a lot of quintessentially small English market towns and villages within the Cotswold area. I have a detailed article on the Cotswold villages. 

We regularly visit these towns and villages and it is a blessing to leave within a short distance to these villages and towns.

Cotswold places to visit and day out

You are spoilt for choice of places to visit in the Cotswold. Depending on your interest, there are interesting places to visit in Cotswold. As a dad of a son who loves animals, the Cotswold wildlife park is one of our favorite places to visit. We also love the Bibury Trout Farm in Bibury.

I have a list of places to visit in the Cotswold article which you can read. As well There is an article I wrote that is specifically for places to visit for wildlife.

There are various must-see places in the Cotswold. Depending on your area of interest, there are amazing spots and places where you can have a good family time.

If you are single and just want a place to visit alone, there is a place for you also. Basically, there is a place for everyone.

Click here to see my list of best places to visit in Cotswold.

Proximity to London

One of the amazing things about living in Cotswold is the proximity to London. There are people who work in London but live in Cotswold.

There is a direct train from London to Oxfordshire in the south of the Cotswold. I have a friend who work a couple of days a week in London and the rest of the days at home. He lives in Cheltenham and goes to work in London on the train and returns the same day.

Airport

International airports are not far away. From the center of the Cotswold in Cirencester, you can arrive in London Heathrow within one and half hours. Bristol airport is also close and has flights to various European destinations.

Cardiff airport in Wales is an option also. It’s about 1:30 min away.

Motorways

In the UK, having easy access to the motorway is essential for traveling out of your location. The M5 offers a great opportunity to easily get out of the Cotswold area if you want to travel. There are junctions 10 and 11 for Cheltenham, junction 11 and 11a for Gloucester.

Junctions 12, 1,3, and 14 will also take you easily into the Cotswold area.

Schools

Most families who have school-age children will like their children to attend a good local school.

The majority of the primary and high schools in the Cotswold area have good Ofsted ratings. We have school-age children in my household. We’ve never experienced any issues with them in school. You can look at the rating of schools in the Cotswold area on Locrating.

There are a few selective schools in the Cotswold area.

These schools have examinations they use to select children who go there. They are also called grammar schools.

For people who can afford independent schools, there are a number of them to choose from. For list of independent schools, you can see the Independent Schools Council website.

Historic Environment

Cotswold area has a lot of history. This fact always makes me count it as a privilege living here.

Cirencester is considered the capital of the Cotswold. There is a rich Roman history in Cirencester. 

One of these is the nationally recognized Arlington Row in Bibury.

Gloucester and Cheltenham to the north of the Cotswold can offer great opportunities to experience historic environments. Gloucester Cathedral is full of history. Gloucester is not a Cotswold city, however, the city is just at the border of Cotswold. Gloucester Dock and Cathedral have featured in blockbuster movies.

To the south are Bath and Oxford. Bath is one of the Regency cities with an incredible history of Regency Architecture. As a resident of Cotswold you are in close proximity to these places tourists come to the area to see.

Entertainment, Shopping and Dining

There are a variety of places to eat out and have a good social time with friends and family. Once in a while, we eat out at a variety of restaurants in Cheltenham.

We’ve been to the Nandos at the center of Cheltenham and some of the Indian restaurants. Depending on your pocket and the kind of experience you want there is a place for everyone. You can find the list of the best restaurants in Cotswold by clicking here.

The pubs are great also. We’ve been to a number of pubs across the Cotswold. You can see some of the best pubs in Cotswold here (TOP 50 PUBS IN THE COTSWOLDS)

Cheltenham provides a great opportunity to attend festivals which including the famous Cheltenham Race Festival. There are various events and festivals across the Cotswold. 

When it comes to shopping, Cheltenham might be the best in the northern part of the Cotswold and Bath in the southern part.

Final Thought

We enjoy living in the Cotswold area. The area is a good region of England to raise kids and have good family time. 

Whether you are single or you have a partner, you will enjoy living in the Cotswold area if you are considering moving to the area. 

There are a lot of articles on this website that are specifically related to the Cotswold. You can check out those articles and hope you will find them useful.

 

Categories:

Haven Quay West Caravan Holiday Park Review

We love Haven holidays in my household mainly because of the cleanliness of their parks. We have been to various Haven holidays parks across the United Kingdom. I thought I should write about our 4 nights experience at Haven Quay West Holiday Park in Wales.

Location

Haven Quay West Holiday Park is located in the southwest of Wales and very close to the seaside town of New Quay. The town is very small with a population of about 1200 people.

The beach

From the Haven Quay West Holiday Park, there are various entrances to the beach. It’s a golden sandy beach which is perfect for a picnic by the seaside.

I personally prefer sandy beaches to pebble beaches. We visited in autumn so we didn’t get into the water because the weather wasn’t favorable. However, we had an amazing time walking on the beach. It was great to experience and feel the sound of the ocean.

The beach is very clean and I absolutely love the neatness of the surroundings.

Caravan

We stayed in a standard caravan. The caravan is a 2 bed which was good enough for us family of 4. They do have 3 bedroom caravans for bigger families. The main bedroom of our standard has a double bedroom. The second bedroom has 2 single bedrooms.

The site has other caravan sizes like deluxe which has more space than the standard.

If you are wondering what is inside a 2-bed standard caravan you can see this video on my YouTube channel.

YouTube video

Swimming pool

I thought the park is a small holiday park compared to some of the other Haven holiday parks we’ve been to. I remembered vividly haven Devon cliffs is larger than quay west.

The swimming pool for example is small. The swimming pool has some of the common activities around the swimming pool, however, it doesn’t have slides for adults. The only water slide available is for little children.

I must say the pool is good enough for a good relaxing holiday swimming experience.

They have various pool activities which need to be booked separately and paid for and are not included in the stay and play fees of the holiday park.

Grocery for self-catering

There is a mini-market inside the park which has the essentials. The price of items is reasonable but not the cheapest.

There is a Costcutter shop outside the park in the town. It’s about 6min from the park. Not a large shop either but it’s more stocked than the mini-market. Again price is not the cheapest but you will find a bit more stuff there that is not in the mini-market inside the holiday park.

The big supermarket like Aldi, Tesco, etc is too far away.

Eating out

You are not only restricted to cooking and eating in your caravan. There are two places to eat at Haven Quay West Holiday Park. There is Papa Jones pizza on-site obviously for a delicious pizza.

We bought pizza one of the nights and really enjoyed it in our caravan. We bought the pizza at the pizza shop and took it to our caravan.

Papa Jones offers delivery to the caravan if you prefer the convenience of seating in your caravan and let it be delivered to you.

There is a restaurant in the entertainment arena. The restaurant also has a bar. We cooked our food most of the time. We wanted to eat at the restaurant one night but we didn’t book on time.

On arrival at the restaurant, all tables were fully booked so we couldn’t eat at the restaurant. The restaurant is large and has a lot of tables.

Activities & entertainment

There are various activities on-site for both young and adults. Some of these activities are

You will have to pay separately for these activities and if you go during school half-term or any other school holiday, you need to book for the activities on time. The spaces can get filled up quickly.

There is evening entertainment that you might enjoy. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to say much about evening entertainment because our children have never really liked seating watching entertainment at the holiday parks.

They are usually interested in activities like swimming, ball games.

   

Local areas

You don’t have to restrict yourself to only the holiday park. You can visit the local area. We visited the New Quay Town Center. It’s a very small town but very lively around the harbour.

It’s a seaside town with a harbour. The area around the harbor is very beautiful. You can go on a boat ride and can have the opportunity to spot dolphins.

Final thoughts

Haven Quay West is not the best Haven holiday park we’ve been but I will still recommend it. Haven parks generally are good. They have a good standard of neat environment. The activities are reasonable.

Mobile Internet isn’t great. We all use EE in my household so am not sure if other mobile networks have better internet. You can use the free WiFi but only available at the entertainment arena building. WiFi was not available inside the caravan at the time of writing this.

In summary, the park is a good park to enjoy a good break and escape a bit from the busyness of life in your home and work life.

Categories:

What’s so special about the Cotswolds?

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the Cotswolds in England? For me, it is ‘dreamy natural beauty.’ From antiquated villages, lush rolling hills to delightful valleys, the Cotswolds is distinctive in many ways.

It is little wonder this largely well-preserved countryside is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

With a landscape of 800 square miles of beautiful rolling hills, it is the largest area of AONB in England. Everything about the Cotswolds is picturesque, from villages, market towns, castles and country houses, gardens to arboretums.

The best way to really enjoy the Cotswold is to walk along the country paths as you discover its gorgeous hills, villages and valleys.

The Cotswold Hills span from the fields of the upper River Thames to the Cotswold Edge. The area’s honey-coloured look comes from the ancient limestone that formed the hills.

The limestone can only be found in the Cotswolds. The woods, green landscape and streams make it an attraction for endangered animals.

There has always been some speculation about how the name ‘Cotswolds’ was coined. Most believe it was formed from ‘Wold’ which is an old English name for hills and the word ‘cot’ which means sheep. Given its history, this makes much sense.

What’s the history of the Cotswolds?

Cotswolds history can be traced back over 6000 years which was when the land was first cultured. Remnants of different eras are still visible all around the region. The Neolithic long barrows and Iron Age hillforts are such examples.

Cirencester used to be the second largest town in Britain during the Roman era and was a major stop on the Fosse Way between Exeter and Lincoln. You can still find various Roman villas in the Cotswolds. Local Roman artefacts can also be found at the Cirencester’s Corinium Museum.

The Cotswolds economy was predominantly wool trade in the Middle Ages. They were famed for having some of the best wool in Europe. The rolling hills were very ideal for sheep farming.

A sheep breed with a long golden fleece was very famous at the time. They even called them the Cotswold lion.

The wool merchants at the time were very rich and you can see pieces of evidence in the grand houses and cathedral-style ‘wool churches’  in places like Chipping Campden and Northleach.

The industrial revolution shifted the wool trade from water to steam power and the mills were moved from Cotswold to the Coalfields.

Even with industrialization, most of the Cotswolds original buildings have remained largely untouched. Today those buildings are a big part of why it’s a tourist haven, which is the area’s biggest economic sector.

Because of the honey-coloured look of the local stone, people preferred to build villages and houses with it and the buildings are what is distinct about the region today.

Where is the Cotswolds?

Located in southwest England, the Cotswolds can be found between the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. It also spreads into portions of Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Somerset.

Just like its name, there really isn’t a definite answer to its borders. The borders of the Cotswolds are difficult to define.

Do you choose the AONB boundary or the local government areas? Do you combine places with a similar history, architecture and geology? Where do you place places like Cheltenham, Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford?

Distinct Features Of The Cotswold

The cheese rolling?

The cheese rolling is one of the fun events that happen in the Cotswold every year on Spring Bank Holiday. The event takes place just outside Gloucester at Cooper’s Hill, which is one of the steepest slopes in the Cotswolds.

For the event, a nine-pound ball of double Gloucester cheese is rolled from the hill top and competitors chase it to the bottom.

The first person to reach it wins.

Have it in mind that this is a very dangerous adventure due to the steepness of the hill but it is now an international spectacle. People now come from all over the world to take part in the local event. Such is the charm of the Cotswolds.

There are some other strange but fun events like Tetbury’s Woolsack Races, Bourton-on-the-Water’s River Football, the Bampton Shirt Race and the Cotswold Olimpick Games.

Royal Connections

Not only is the Cotswold an AONB, but it is also home to remarkable manmade structures built for royalty.

A few of these structures include Corsham Court, which is an imposing former royal manor with gardens designed by Capability Brown.

Another example is the Prince of Wales’s Highgrove Estate; it is open to the public.

The villages are stunning

The Cotswold villages are stunning and they all share the same honey-coloured look of the local stone they are made from. The Cotswold offer a taste of pleasant rural life.

The three most beautiful villages in the area are Burford, Bourton-on-Water, Chedworth. Architecture apart, the local pubs and local eatery in this area are some of the best around. You can also stroll into many antique shops.

The hills are also great for farming. It’s not uncommon to see fields of dairy cows, sheep and more around.

Cotswold also provides entry points to historic towns and cities like Bath, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Cirencester etc. which are great tourist areas.

Crime Rate

Perhaps the most underrated distinctive feature of the Cotswold is the relatively low crime rate in the area.

In Conclusion

There is no doubt that Cotswold is a beautiful region with beautiful places in the UK. The peace, quiet and greenness are underrated qualities.

But what really makes this area special is the limestone that most of the structures are built from, since they can only be found in the Cotswold.

 

Categories:

6 Amazing Destinations for Wildlife in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is famed for being one of the most beautiful places in the UK. If you are looking for places where you can see a beautiful selection of wildlife, you must visit the Cotwolds.

Here are some of the most amazing wildlife destinations in Cotswold.

1. Slimbridge

If you love birds you will not be disappointed here. When we visited Slimbridge, I remember our younger son not wanting to leave because of the amazing experience he had. They have a coffee shop and a big restaurant where you can sit and have fun family time if you are there with your family. The place is family-friendly. Whether you are single, with family or a group, you can be sure to have a very wonderful time at Slimbridge.

2. Cotswold Farm Park

This site is dedicated to the best of British farming, through a sustainable and authentic approach. This farm park provides an amazing opportunity to see a range of farm animals.

Something unique they offer is the opportunity to see small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, chicks, ducklings, piglets, lambs and goat kids. You can learn about a lot of animals from the experts on the farm. There are outdoor play areas for children and both adults and children can enjoy a wildlife walk where you can discover stunning seasonal flowers and enjoy amazing views.

Cotswold Farm Park have something to offer for all age group but if you have kids this is a place you must visit with your children.

3. Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

One of the best places to experience wildlife is the Cotswold. Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens is a family-friendly environment with a lot to offer for wildlife lovers. You can see animals like zebras, lions, giraffes, and camels. There are more than enough places to park your car and enjoy everything the park has to offer. There is also a beautiful large walled garden and a wonderful collection of mature trees which are an integral part of the landscape.

Whether you are looking for birds, primate, mammals, or reptiles they have them all at Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens.

4. Cotswolds AONB

Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covers a large area of land. There is no limit to what you can do in Cotswold AONB.

Cotswolds National Landscape provides various locations, from which people can follow walking and cycling routes to explore the surrounding countryside of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

There is an abundance of footpaths, bridleways, and minor roads. You have great opportunities to discover hidden corners, epic views, historic sites, and rich diversity of wildlife.

You can find helpful maps of directions by clicking here.

5. Birdland Park & Gardens

Personally, I have been to this amazing park. It is at the center of the Bourton-on-the-Water village. The village itself is one of the best among the Cotswold villages. Bourton-on-the-Water is famous for the low bridge and the streams that flow through the village. You can have a nice time in the village center then easily stroll into Birdland Park where you can see and behold the beauty of over 500 birds at the park.

Discover the amazing world of birds at the Birdland Parks & Gardens. Some of the birds that will dazzle you at the park are snowy owls, burrowing owls, great grey owls, spectacled owls and Indian scops owls. You will also have the opportunity to see mackinder’s eagle owls, Chaco owls, and white-faced owls.

6. Cotswold Falconry Centre

If you love birds of prey, you will have an amazing experience here. You can have an owl experience or enjoy the flying starts of the birds. The birds show off their amazing flying skills, you will truly admire and appreciate the amazing birds at the Cotswold Falconry Centre.

In Conclusion

What I have always loved about the Cotswold is the preservation of green spaces. I guess it is then not a surprise that it is home to some beautiful and explore-worthy wildlife. From beautiful gardens to birds, primate, mammals, or reptiles, it is only a question of what your interest is. There is just about everything for everyone.

Categories:

Best Things To Do In The Cotswolds

One of the most asked questions for people who visit the Cotswolds is about the best things to do in the Cotswolds.

The Cotswold is a beautiful place with a breathtaking view of rolling hills and grasslands.

From its rolling hills to the English country homes built with clear yellow limestone, vintage-looking cottages and medieval villages, the Cotswold is awe-inspiring.

It is one of the best places for a UK break. A tour of this place can be the most exciting and soulful moment of your life.

As there are so many stunning areas to visit, we have noted down some of the must-try things you should do while visiting Cotswold.

1.   Visit the lovely English villages.

The Cotswold is well known for its amazing English villages. It is normal to find contrasting villages here but all are beautiful and unique in their way. Some of the villages we would like to suggest visiting are:

Bourton-on-the-Water, Cotswold

 

  • Castle comb: It is one of the prettiest villages in England. There haven’t been any new homes built since 1600 AD. The people living here mostly live in the ancient built homes. In 1961, it was recognized as the most delightful village in England. It also features wooded mountains and hills, as well as vintage-looking cottages. Visiting this place, you will be astonished seeing how gracefully the people living here have taken care of this place. It is as beautiful as it used to be hundreds of years ago.
  • Bourton-on-the-Water: If you want to visit a place where you can get both town and village vibe in the UK, Bourton-on-the-Water is the place to go. It is famous for its low bridges and traditional English houses, also known as stone houses. Here you can also visit some eye-catching museums where you will get to see vintage cars and different ages of toys. You will also get to meet different birds like parrots, owls and penguins. Apart from these, it also has some modern-town touch to it. You can spend time in trendy cafes having hot tea and flavoursome freshly baked pastries.
  • Bibury: Its eye-catching honey glazed cottages shining in the morning is one of the most beautiful sights in Bibury. Arlington Row is where most tourists visit because of its breathtaking architecture. In Bibury, you get to appreciate the traditional rural villages, tea houses and many other notable architectures.
  • Blockley: Blockley is a pleasant-looking village in You can have a walk from Blockley to Batsford and experience beautiful golden stone houses, silk and wool mills, and vintage cottages. You can also visit the Batsford Arboretum which is a 52-acre botanical garden. Here you will see the largest private tree and plant collections in the country.
Arlington Row, Bibury

You can read up on 15 of the prettiest Cotswold villages here.

2.   Visit a Garden in Cotswolds

Cotswolds has some amazing garden which refreshes your soul and body. Some of the top picks are –

  • Westonbirt Arboretum: Westonbirt Arboretum is one of the most beautiful tree gardens in the UK. It consists of trees from all over the world. This garden has more than 600 acres of trees.
  • Painswick Rocco garden: Painswick Rocco garden is an English garden in the hidden valley of the north Cotswolds built in the 1740s. Here you can enjoy the garden with flowers, vegetables and also café and seasonal functions.

3.   Visit churches

It doesn’t matter if you are a religious fanatic or not, the Cotswold has some amazing ancient churches that is sure to catch your attention.

These are the best picks:

  • Hailes Abbey: It was founded in 1246 and was once used as a pilgrimage site. The medieval English wall paintings in this local church parish will catch your eyes as soon as you enter the church.
  • Northleach Church: The wealthy wool merchants from the town made donations to keep this church as elegant as it was before. The font in the south aisle carved in the 14th century stone pulpit is one of the few pre-reformation pulpits left. You can also see the stained glass windows, which are also amazing.

4.   Local shops

If you like to visit local shops to get food and items that exhibit the traditional culture of Cotswolds, then you should surely visit the following-

  • Upton smoker shops, Upton downs farm: In this local shop of Cotswolds, you can enjoy not only appetizing smoked trout, goose, partridge but also fresh crayfish, local veg, or cheese with classic French wines.
  • Cutter Brooks: In this store, you can find dresses and jewellers, ornaments from independent brands that are of great quality. It is a lifestyle store set by its owner Amanda Brooks. It was inspired by her husband’s Oxfordshire hometown.
  • Broadway Deli: Broadway is all about food and serving its customers the food they want and crave. Here you can make your sandwiches, get homemade jams, fresh fruits and vegetables. They also have local beer and wines and many more items. It is a must-visit place for people who enjoy local food.

5.   Wildlife Park

If you are an adventure lover, the Cotswold also offers a lot of that. The wildlife parks are an example. Here, you can get glimpses of the beautiful animals living in the Cotswold.

  • Cotswolds Wildlife Park: This Park is home to a series of animals at the risk of extinction. You can visit this place with your family and get to meet the happy penguins, friendly giraffes, and Asiatic lions.
  • Cotswolds Falconry Centre: Here you get to see eagles, hawks, falcons, kestrels, owls, and many other types of birds. In 1988, Geoff and Naomi Dalton, a couple with immense love for and interest in birds opened this wildlife park. You can have a picnic with the birds too as they have a large picnic spot there.
  • Bibury Trout Farm: It is one of Britain’s oldest trout farms and is still going strong. You can enjoy delicious fish items here and other local foods. Besides, during summer, you can fish at the Bibury Trout Farm.

 

Read up why Cheltenham is expensive here.

6.   Castle

The Cotswold is home to some beautiful castles. A must visit would be –

  • Berkeley Castle: It is a great place to visit with family, friends and groups. Berkeley Castle gives the vibe of the medieval era. Outside the castle, you can discover gardens and monuments of the 12th And on the inside, you can observe the treasures of the Berkeley family.
  • Sudeley Castle: This is a Grade I listed castle majestically located in the beautiful medieval market town of Winchcombe in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England. Nestled within the Cotswold hills, this castle is a perfect spot to enjoy your leisure time in the Cotswolds.

7.   Museum

You can also visit some great museums in Cotswolds. A must visit would be –

  • Shakespeare’s Birthplace: A museum about one of the greatest writers of all time. It is the place where Shakespeare was born and raised. In the past, this house was a familial house used by his family members. Now, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust takes care of it and is still like it was. Here you will be entertained and learn a lot from his workshops, writings, and readings.

8.   Grand cities and Towns

The Cotswold isn’t only home to castles, museums, and beautiful villages, it also has some nice cities. A must visit would be:

  • Bath: With its beautiful golden-coloured buildings in the town, Bath is the symbol of the wealthy people drawn to the healing properties in Georgian times. Bath has quiet city roads with an improving retail sector; a great place for explorers.
  • Cheltenham: If you are looking for a town with unique history with a lot of styles and grandeur, Cheltenham is the place. Cheltenham is the most complete Regency Town. Cheltenham prides herself as the Centre of the Cotswolds. Shopping in Cheltenham is one of the must-do if you go to Cheltenham. Cheltenham is recognized as one of the best shopping destinations in Cotswold.  John Lewis Cheltenham is a masterpiece on Cheltenham High Street.

You can read up on the best place to live in the Cotswold here.

9.   Party and Festivals

The Cotswold is also known for its unique festivals. Here are some you should not miss out on –

  • Cheltenham Literature Festival: It is a learning festival where you can share and exchange knowledge with like minds. Cheltenham literature festival is celebrated over ten days. Talented authors, writers, publishers also get featured to share their knowledge on travel, life, language, art, and more. If you are a literature buff, you will surely enjoy the festival.
  • The Big Festival: The Big Festival is an unforgettable experience. The action-packed festival is a mix of music, food, and activities. From UK’s chart-topping artists to the Michelin star chefs and a plethora of family activities, it is a really fun festival. Supper clubs, delicious pop-ups, and street food are some of the dishes on display. You can also hone your cookery skills in the cookery school.
  • Cheltenham Festivals: The Cheltenham Horse Racing Festival is by far the most popular. There are other festivals in Cheltenham that take place annually. I have an article that explained in detail all the Festivals in Cheltenham.

Find out if Cheltenham or Gloucester is a better place to live here.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Cotswold is a beautiful place to visit. There are tons of activities to do and have a lovely time in the Cotswold. We’ve only mentioned a few here. You can read up on more Cotswold excitement here.

Categories: