Grittier than many of the 'typically Cotswold' towns, Stroud is a wonderful mix of dramatic landscape (it's surrounded by five sweeping valleys), eclectic shopping choices (where else would you find a specialist fairy shop and a fossil shop) and industrial heritage (the landmark mills snake along the valleys) - very different, slightly bohemian, never dull!
The pretty little Cotswold town of Charlbury is overlooked by most visitors, largely because by car it can only be reached by narrow winding roads. Yet, with both a main line station and an hourly bus service to Oxford, it is well served by public transport. With some good walks (and cycle rides) in the surrounding countryside and a choice of places to eat, drink and stay it's ideal for a car-free break.
Birdland in Bourton on the Water is set in nine acres of gardens and woodland along the winding River Windrush. There are over 500 exotic and rare birds from around the world in naturally themed aviaries and waterside habitats - don't miss the entertaining (and informative) penguin feeding (daily at 2.30) with the majestic King Penguins and the comical Humboldts!
Secret Cottage is a six hour guided tour of Cotswold villages with a difference - you’re invited into Becky’s own thatched cottage for coffee and pastries, a buffet lunch and a traditional English cream tea. Be a local for the day! Tours run daily all year from Moreton in Marsh station and you can take the tour on your own, as a couple or as a group (7 maximum) - a great day trip from London-Paddington.
Just to the south east of the Cotswolds in the quiet little village of Northmoor (with an excellent community owned pub!), sits Rectory Farm. A working farm with pedigree North Devon cattle and meadows running down to the River Thames, Rectory Farm offers B&B in their glorious 16th century farmhouse and two self-catering cottages in converted farm buildings.
Just outside the Cotswolds - a couple of miles south east of Lechlade - lies Buscot Park, another fascinating National Trust property. The late 18th century property, still the family home of Lord Faringdon, houses the famous Faringdon Collection and is set in enchanting landscaped grounds. (Buscot Park re-opens at Easter)
It's hard not to love half-timbered buildings and riverside walks and if you do, then don't miss Tewkesbury! Just to the north west of the Cotswolds, where the Rivers Severn and Avon meet, Tewkesbury has almost 400 listed buildings, fine half-timbered houses with overhanging upperstoreys and narrow alleyways in between, many leading down to the river, and visible almost everywhere you go the tower of the magnificent Norman abbey.
Another glorious Cotswold inn, the 17th century Maytime Inn in the little village of Asthall - a popular restaurant, 100 different gins, fine wines by the glass, real ales, craft beers, an award-winning garden with stunning countryside views and six wonderful rooms...
How can you describe Cogges? It''s a unique venue and heritage site with a fascinating story: a manor house dating back to the 13th century with farm buildings, walled garden and orchard. Children will love it: farm animals, dressing up costumes, an adventure play area and grounds to explore! Cogges re-opens on Saturday 17 March.
A warm welcome awaits guests young and old at Bould Farm, a 17th century farmhouse B&B on a working farm (pedigree sheep and cattle).There are large comfortable double rooms and a popular en-suite family room with a double and two single beds. Great walks straight from the door!
The Corinium Museum in Cirencester, known as Corinium in Roman times, is a superb multi-award winning museum taking you on a journey through time and charting the development of the Cotswolds from its prehistoric landscape to the modern day.
Fairford, once a major coaching town, sits on a lovely stretch of the River Coln - there are picturesque walks along the riverside - and boasts a fine 'wool church', St Mary's, with a complete set of 28 medieval stained glass windows telling the story of the Bible. Each July thousands of people descend on the town for the Royal International Air Tattoo, the UK's biggest military air show.