The most picturesque Cotswolds Villages you must visit
Everybody always talks about the Cotswolds as an intensely beautiful place, but it takes some time to genuinely appreciate what they mean. The countryside is amongst the most beautiful in the world, being exactly what everyone imagines when they picture rural England. It isn’t just the rolling fields that make the Cotswolds so captivating, however. What makes this area of England stand out so vividly in people’s imaginations, and in their memories, are the towns and villages, and within them, the people. Here is a list of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds that you need to visit if you are to get any real sense of the beauty of this part of the world.
This is the perfect town for losing yourself in the Cotswolds of your imagination. Sat on the River Coln, this little village was once described as the most beautiful in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds by poet and novelist William Morris. The village emanates from an ancient Saxon Church, and the pre-eminence of history is heightened still by Arlington Row; a group of steeply pitched cottages dating from the time of Shakespeare. If you are looking for an introduction to the Cotswolds that is ostensibly everything that you imagined, then this is the place to start.
The quintessential English village, Broadway is rightfully known as the ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’. The beauty and charm of this small haven attracts visitors from across the world. People come from far and wide to soak in the vibrant culture, stunning scenery, and lively atmosphere of the village. Broadway has been a major stop-off point for travellers since Roman times, and the Lygon Arms has been in business since the 16th Century.
Today it still serves as the ideal base from which to explore the surrounding countryside, as well as offering a weary head some fantastic food and drink. Broadway prides itself on its amazing locally grown produce, and the fantastic restaurants around town are keen to show off all of it, from organic cheese and soft plums to strong ale and world-famous asparagus! Along with food and drink, accommodation also caters for all budgets, with small B&B’s ranging up to luxury hotels. Broadway is undoubtedly tailored for visitors; why miss out?
Few other villages in the Cotswolds, if any, will be so synonymous with a certain way of life as Chipping Norton. Its inhabitants have been characterized to the point of satire for their dedication to living a comfortable, rural and typically English existence, yet that should in no way be taken as an indictment on the town. Those who scoff at the ‘Chipping Norton set’ are welcome to do so, but I defy anyone to visit this small piece of England and not feel touched by its cheery, warming feel.
The fame of the town has indeed brought new waves of visitors, but the proud locals have thus far successfully resisted any attempts at making the town more “touristy”. The shops remain theirs, and the atmosphere remains one of vibrant friendliness and comfortable intimacy. As with other places of great beauty in the Cotswolds, Chipping Norton comes complete with a stunning old church, thriving wildlife towards the edges of town, and myriad pubs, cafes, and fish and chip shops. In fact, if you’re heading for Cheltenham, Chipping Norton, known as ‘Chippy’ to the locals, is the last place to get cod and chips for 30 miles. Best be safe and stop in then.
The name is a bit of a giveaway: this lovable little village sits atop the escarpment that overlooks Broadway, among other villages, making it the high point in the area and the local bellwether for coming snow. This is definitely a place for those who want to genuinely retreat into the country. Snowshill is a secluded idyll, filled with ancient cottages and, you guessed it, a 19th Century church that straddles a pleasant village green. The peaceful shelter of this village and the surrounding area makes for excellent walking, and the local manor house, administered as a National Trust site, has some dramatically beautiful gardens that can’t go unappreciated. The Snowshill Arms is a quality establishment, providing the perfect rest point for weary ramblers before heading home. This is definitely a Cotswold village that you must see.
I could go on for pages of course. The Cotswolds are alive with charming and beautiful villages and market towns, many of which date back hundreds of years, and all of which offer something slightly different, although all are reassuringly similar in the possession of atmosphere and good scenery. If you want to get the most out of your visits to the Cotswolds, these villages are great places to start. Each has a distinctive character, and each offers a slightly different take on the unmistakable magnificence of the Cotswolds. Enjoy.
This guest blog post was by Calvin Sheffield, a blogger and writer from the Cotswolds.
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