The name Cotswold is sometimes attributed the meaning "sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides incorporating the term "wold" meaning hills. The spine of the Cotswolds runs south west to north east through six counties, particularly Gloucestershire, west Oxfordshire, and south western Warwickshire. The northern and western edges of the Cotswolds are marked by steep escarpments down to the Severn valley and the Warwickshire Avon.
The area is characterised by attractive small towns and villages built of the underlying Cotswold stone (a yellow oolitic limestone). This limestone is rich in fossils, in particular fossilised sea urchins. In the Middle Ages the wool trade made the Cotswolds prosperous. Some of this money was put into the building of churches so the area has a number of large handsome Cotswold stone "wool churches". The area remains affluent and has attracted wealthy people who own second homes in the area or have chosen to retire there.
Cotswold towns include Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway, Burford, Chipping Norton, Cirencester, Moreton-in-Marsh, Northleach, Stow-on-the-Wold, Stroud and Winchcombe.
While the beauty of the Cotswold AONB is intertwined with the villages that seem to almost grow out of the landscape, the Cotswolds were primarily designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for the rare limestone grassland habitats as well as the old growth beech woodlands that typify the area. These habitat areas are also the last refuge for many other flora and fauna with some so endangered they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Cleeve Hill, and its associated commons, is a fine example of a limestone grassland and it is one of the few locations where the Duke of Burgundy butterfly can still be found in abundance. Some extracts taken from wikipedia
The Cotswolds Way
The 102 miles long Cotswold Way follows the escarpment running along the western edge of the Cotswolds. On the walk one gets great views of the Severn Valley while walking amidst beech woods and open pasture. It passes through picturesque villages built in local limestone. The Cotswold are a designated 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' so you can be sure the scenery on this long distance walk is always going to be pleasing to the eye.
Cotswold Way Co UK Dedicated site providing all one needs when planning the walk.
Ramblers Association Comprehensive site providing details on the route. Includes an accommodation guide, booking service providers, maps required.
Cotswold Way Service A very useful site on planning to do the Cotswold Way
The Cotswolds has many attractions to help visitors to enjoy their stay in the area, or residents to make the most of living in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Below we have some links to some wonderful places that you may like to visit when enjoying the Cotswolds.
Wildlife and Farm Parks
The Cotswold Wildlife Park, Nr. Burford
The Cotswold Farm Park
Birdland Park and Gardens, Rissington Road, Bourton-on-the-Water
Corinium Museum, Cirencester
Witney Museum, Witney
Cogges Manor Farm Museum, Witney
Chipping Norton Museum
Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock
Swinford Museum Filkins
Tolsey Museum Burford
Chedworth Roman Villa
North Leigh Roman Villa
Buildings, Estates and Country Parks of Interest
Blenheim Palace - Woodstock
Minster Lovell Hall - Minster Lovell
Kelmscott Manor - Kelmscott, near Lechlade
Chastleton House - Chastleton, near Moreton-in-Marsh
Sherborne Estate - Sherborne, near Cheltenham
Cotswold Water Park - Britain's largest water park
Crickley Hill Country Park - Large country part between Cirencester and Gloucester
Broadway Tower - Broadway
Broadway Tower Country Park - Broadway
Sudeley Castle - Winchcombe, near Cheltenham
Chavenage House - Tetbury
Snowshill Manor - Near Broadway
Other Cotswold Attractions
Westonbirt Arboretum, Westonbirt (Near Tetbury)
Batsford Arboretum, Morten-in-Marsh
Model Village, Bourton on the Water