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Top Things to do in the Cotswolds

Cotswolds countryside Cotswolds countryside

Enjoy the best the local area has to offer with a selection of unmissable things to see and do.

DAY 1 - Explore the sights right on your doorstep

Put your car keys away: today is all about exploring the sights on your doorstep. Stroll down to the River Windrush for breakfast: both Bakery on the Water (1) and De La Haye’s (2) serve a hearty breakfast and frothy coffee. The river flows right through the village centre, beneath low stone bridges and weeping willow trees: a sight so idyllic, you’ll want to savour the ten-minute walk to Birdland (3). This wildlife haven is home to penguins, parrots, pelicans and much more – as well as a dinosaur-themed walking trail and fossil hunting experience. Nearby, the Model Village (4) captures Bourton’s beauty in miniature with its own River Windrush, tiny trees, and stonebuilt churches (listen carefully, and you can even hear the choir singing). Meanwhile, Cotswold Motoring Museum (5) captures the golden age of automobiles – and entry is free for cottage guests. Its eclectic collection of classic vehicles and memorabilia includes everything from vintage BMWs to Brum, the little star of children’s television. After dinner at the Mousetrap Inn (6), take a Bloody Bourton Walking Tour (7) for a frightfully fun encounter with the village’s ghosts and ghouls.

"An eclectic collection of classic vehicles and memorabilia"

Cotswold Motoring Museum

Cotswold Motoring Museum

DAY 2 - Tick off these National Trust properties


Hidcote Manor Gardens

The Cotswolds are home to some of Britain’s most glorious gardens, and a circular route from the cottages encompasses three National Trust properties with delightful grounds. The first call is Hidcote (8), whose intricate landscaping leads to secluded ‘secret’ groves; then Snowshill Manor (9) for formal lawns and blooming borders; and finally to Chastleton House (10), where you’ll find topiary and croquet beside this sprawling Jacobean mansion. For something a little more exotic, head to Batsford Arboretum (11): from Chilean conifers to Japanese cherry blossom, it boasts thousands of plants and trees from all over the globe. See something you like? There’s also a shop, which sells many of the specimens on display – and a restaurant that serves lunch and excellent cakes. Far smaller in scale yet still spectacular, there are three more gardens within half an hour of the cottages: Barnsley House (12) has a beautiful laburnum walk; Cerney House Gardens (13) has a secluded walled garden amid 40 acres of parkland; and award-winning Bourton House Garden (14) has lush landscaping.

DAY 3 - Take a step back in time

Take a step back in time this morning with a trip to nearby Sudeley Castle (15), where you can follow in the footsteps of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I through opulent interiors and beautiful gardens. This former royal residence has a brilliant collection of queenly curios – including Anne Boleyn’s lacework, Marie Antoinette’s bed covers, and Katherine Parr’s love letters. For more ancient adventures, Chedworth Roman Villa (16) is home to magnificent Roman mosaics, as well as an excavated water shrine and bath house – all of which date back to the fourth century. There’s also a handy café for lunch, serving sandwiches and jacket potatoes. Feeling weary? Let the train take the strain on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (17) – a heritage line that runs for 14 miles through the idyllic Cotswolds countryside between Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse. You can hop on at Toddington, the station closest to the cottages. Tonight, toast your trip at one final heritage treasure: the Slaughters Manor House (18), a pretty 17th-century pile with an excellent bar and restaurant.

Sudeley Castle grounds

Sudeley Castle

If you stay longer...

outside Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

Trewsbury Mead (19), the source of the River Thames, is a 30-minute drive from the cottages – and the starting point of the Thames Path. The 183-mile walking trail runs all the way to London’s Thames Barrier, but the first few miles to Cricklade is arguably one of its most beautiful stretches. It’s incredible to think that this trickle grows into Britain’s most famous waterway, so pack a picnic and dip your toes in the crystal-clear stream. With a few extra days in hand, you’ll want to spend one at Blenheim Palace (20), the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. These were no humble beginnings: the palace is renowned for its richly-decorated State Rooms, exquisite oil paintings, and 2,000 acres of lakes and gardens designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Kids not impressed? Try the Cotswold Wildlife Park (21) instead – where they can walk with giraffes, feed the lemurs, and get up-close with giant tortoises. Sign them up for a Junior Keeper Experience (ages seven to 11), and they’ll spend the day helping out the rangers: a great gift for young wildlife enthusiasts. Cotswold Farm Park (22) has a more pastoral menagerie, such as ponies, cattle and rare breed sheep. Children staying at the cottages get free entry when accompanied by a paying adult – and they’ll love the milking, lambing and shearing demonstrations. The critters at Crocodiles of the World (23), meanwhile, are a rather snappier bunch. For canoeing, paddleboarding, waterskiing and lots more (without a crocodile in sight) look to Cotswold Water Park (24) – it’s a top spot for birdwatching, too. For gentler pursuits, Bibury Trout Farm (25) is a great place to learn the basics of fishing, and cottage guests get two-for-one adult tickets. Barbecues are available, and the shop sells fresh and smoked trout.


Cotswolds map

1. BAKERY ON THE WATER (ON-SITE), 01451 822748

2. DE LA HAYE’S (ON-SITE), 01451 822500

3. BIRDLAND, 01451 820480

4. THE MODEL VILLAGE, 01451 820467


6. THE MOUSETRAP INN, 01451 820579


8. HIDCOTE GARDENS (19 MILES), 01386 438333

9. SNOWSHILL MANOR (10 MILES), 01386 852410

10. CHASTLETON HOUSE (10 MILES), 01608 674355

11. BATSFORD ARBORETUM (10 MILES), 01386 701441

12. BARNSLEY HOUSE (13 MILES), 01285 740000

13. CERNEY HOUSE (13 MILES), 01285 831300

14. BOURTON HOUSE (9 MILES), 01386 700754

15. SUDELEY CASTLE (12 MILES), 01242 604244

16. CHEDWORTH ROMAN VILLA (10 MILES), 01242 890256




20. BLENHEIM PALACE (24 MILES), 01993 810530

21. COTSWOLD WILDLIFE PARK (14 MILES), 01993 823006

22. COTSWOLD FARM PARK (5 MILES), 01451 850307

23. CROCODILES OF THE WORLD (13 MILES), 01993 846353

24. COTSWOLD WATER PARK (23 MILES), 01793 752413

25. BIBURY TROUT FARM (11 MILES), 01285 740215

All distances are approximate.

Boundless by CSMA is a trading name of Motoring & Leisure Services Limited, a subsidiary of the Civil Service Motoring Association Limited, registered office Britannia House, 21 Station Street, Brighton, BN1 4DE, registered in England no: 02813598. Motoring & Leisure Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the financial conduct authority.