Cotswolds Way Guidebook

This new edition of The Cotswold Way guide has been produced by the Cicerone Press to coincide with the elevation of the route to National Trail status in May 2007. Read review..

The Cotswolds Hills

The Cotswolds Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are formed from a belt of oolitic limestone that divides the heart of England from the North Sea to the south coast passing through Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and nudging into Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire

The Cotswolds is an area of about the shape of a rough diamond in the heart of England stretching through the counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

A photograph of the                    
Cotswolds Hills The western edge forms the escarpment that overlooks the Severn Valley and the Vale of Evesham. This ridge gives the picture of hills seen from the valley floor as you travel along the M5 motorway. Yet, once on the top the land opens out into the rolling wolds and deep, wooded river valleys that make this one of the most beautiful areas in the UK.

The Cotswolds is popular with both the English and visitors from all over the world, renowned for the gentle, picture puzzle; sleepy villages that are so typically English has are the world famous cities of Bath and Oxford or the cathedral city of Gloucester.

Cotswolds Stone

The stone which can lie just below the surface has been used for hundred's of year's and this is in evidence throughout the area from the honey coloured stone of the north Cotswolds to the subtle grey of the southern Cotswolds. Besides the buildings the Cotswolds are famous for the drystone walls that have divided the landscape for hundred of years.

A Cotswolds stone wall There have been many stone quarries throughout the Cotswolds and some of them have supplied the stone for some of the most famous buildings in England, such as St Paul’s Cathedral for which stone from Taynton was used in the construction. The story of the famous Bath stone quarried from the area around Corsham and use in the construction of Georgian Bath is unfolded through an interesting exhibition in the heritage centre in the Wiltshire town.

There are other quarries supplying gravel from the Thames Valley including the area around the Cotswold Water Park, Bourton on the Water and Witney.

For more information on Cotswolds stone go to our information page.

Cotswold Towns and Villages

Idyllic towns and villages like Bibury and Bourton-on-the Water hide in the steep wooded valleys or sit proud on high rolling wolds. The fine buildings created by great artisans, the magnificent churches built by the wealthy wool merchants from medieval times and their grand houses with wonderful gardens are waiting to be discovered by travellers.

Use the links to discover more about the history, the villages and towns, about the conservation projects undertaken throughout the area and top attractions to visit.

Burford, the gateway to the Cotswolds Follow one of our suggested tours by car or follow one of our family walks to discover some of the hidden parts of the Cotswolds. The Cotswold Gateway is your guide to this wonderful Cotswolds area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Take a look at our Cotswolds town guide and the Cotswolds villages guide.

Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

* The Cotswolds is one of 41 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales and is the largest, covering 790 sq miles - 2,038 sq kms from Bradford-upon-Avon to Banbury a distance of 78 miles - 126 kms from north to south.

The Cotswolds was designated An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966 and this means that the countryside protected forever and that the past, present and future assured for generations to come. The Cotswolds Conservation Board is the organisation that looks after the AONB in its entirety. For more information about the Cotswolds Conservation Board visit their website. The majority of this beautiful countryside is farmland, a diverse mix of arable, livestock and woodland.

About a tenth of the Cotswolds is woodland with many of the woods being ancient. Some of the best examples are on the western edge with the beech woods around Cranham and Birdlip. Other woodland consists of oak, ash and sycamore.