The Cotswolds is a beautiful ‘quintessentially English’ region, which was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s one of Britain’s favourite destinations and often referred to as “the Heart of England”. If you’re looking for a rural holiday, the Cotswolds is the ideal location to enjoy just that, not to mention that they also play home to a wide variety of attractions suitable for entertaining both the kids and the adults, whatever the weather.
Here are just five top Cotswold attractions for you to visit:
1. Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
The Gloucestershire Warwick Railway (GWR) is a 25 mile trip that journeys between Laverton and Cheltenham Racecourse. This heritage route travels north from Toddington, cutting across the 15-arch Stanway Viaduct with view of Stanway House to boot. Alternatively, the route journeys south from Toddington, passing the GWR train maintenance workshops and then past the village of Didbrook; Hayles Abbey Halt; Winchcombe Station; and the Greet Tunnel – the second longest on a preserved railway. The home of the Bugatti Owners’ Club, the Prescott Hill Climb, also features on the itinerary ahead of Gotherington. Tewkesbury Abbey can also be seen during the latter half of the journey, along with the Malvern Hills and Bishop’s Cleeve. After running over a continuously welded section of line, the route approaches terminating station Cheltenham Racecourse, opened by HRH The Princess Royal in April 2003.
All in all, this steam train route offers guests a whistle-stop tour of just a fraction of the Cotswolds, and is great for little ones with a love of trains. There are a variety of tea rooms along the way along too, and a small museum of rail memorabilia. Family all-day rover tickets start at just £38, with well-behaved dogs and under-5’s going free.
2. Heritage Motor Centre
Image by Phil Brown via Flickr
The Heritage Motor Centre (HMC) is based in Gaydon, Warwickshire, and promotes the ‘Best of British Motoring’. The museum houses a host of permanent exhibitions including but not limited to:
- Jaguar Heritage Display – a collection of Jaguar Heritage vehicles and look at their history.
- Artist in Residence: Popbang Colour – Watch artist Ian Cook create stunning artwork using just paint and remote control cars.
- Making British Cars – a look back at the British motor industry and where it is heading in the future
- Under the Skin – The chance to get under the bonnet of various cars and look at their internal workings.
The HMC also plays home to temporary exhibits including Aston Martin – A Century of Craftsmanship along with displaying the Land Rover Defender 110 vehicle that was used in the opening sequence of James Bond movie, Skyfall. Family tickets start at just £34 and the HMC is guaranteed to keep the petrol heads in your party occupied for most of the day!
3. Cotswold Water Park
Spanning an area of 40 square miles between Swindon and Cirencester, and comprising 150 lakes, the Cotswold Water Park offers a wide range of activities including angling, boat trips, horse riding and paintballing. There is also a large selection of water-based activities including wakeboarding, windsurfing, canoeing and kayaking – so why not try something new this summer? It is recommended that you contact individual leisure providers for activity prices, and all of the details can be accessed on the water park website, waterpark.org.
4. Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens
Set in 160 acres of parklands, Cotswold Wildlife Park plays home to thousands of animals including birds, mammals, primates, and reptiles. Throughout the day there is a medley of feeding talks, allowing you to get up close and personal with animals at feeding time. Along with daily events, there are also a number of special events throughout the summer including Cotswold Falconry (26th/31st August) and Wild Nights Tours (3rd/10th August). At the focal point of the park is the Victorian Manor House, surrounded by a large walled garden plus a collection of trees and flora, that give the park a somewhat stately feel. As such, the park is ideal for both animal and gardening lovers. Admission prices start at £14 for adults and £9.50 for children aged 3-16 years, with tots under 3 going free.
5. Warwick Castle
Image by Mark Fosh via Flickr
Warwick Castle is a Grade 1 listed building dating back almost 11 centuries. Guests can explore every inch of the castle from its towers to its great hall and engine house, along with its extensive grounds that includes the historical pageant field. There are various attractions across the site, including The Castle Dungeon, and two ‘new for 2013’ attractions: Merlin: The Dragon Tower (inspired by the popular BBC series of the same name); and Warwick Castle UNLOCKED! which allows guests to look around four of the castle’s formeyl secret rooms. There are also a number of summer events taking place, including Horrible Histories Foul Fayre: Stormin’ Summer! and the LEGO Castle Event, along with the castle’s annual jousting events throughout the holidays. Admission for a family of four, including all internal attractions, is priced at just £64.44 when you book online at least 7 days in advance.
There is clearly oodles of fun to be had in The Cotswolds, so why not treat yourselves and the kids to some much needed family-time whilst exploring the district’s top attractions in the surroundings of the great British countryside?
Anisha is a travel writer and cycling enthusiast that works a longside CotswoldCountryCycles.com. When she’s not getting from place to place on two wheels she enjoys nothing more than a pint in her favourite Cotswolds pub.