About the area

What exactly is a Cotswold?

If you want to start a conversation locally, ask what the word 'Cotswolds' means. Everyone agrees that 'wolds' refers to 'hills' but after that, opinions are divided.

A farmer will define the Cotswolds as an area of gently sloping hills good for arable and sheep farming, a geologist would enthuse over our oolitic limestone and an estate agent will name it as one of the most 'affluent' and 'desirable' addresses in Britain. The area is also designated as England's largest 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' (AONB). If you've visited before or if you're planning a visit for the first time, remember that the Cotswolds occupy an area larger than just a few villages (100 miles north to south). 

Here in the South, the area has a slightly wilder nature, especially in the beautiful five valleys around Stroud.

The five valleys meet at the town of Stroud - and the hills are plateaus between the valleys, especially the wide, lofty heights of Rodborough and Minchinhampton Commons - can make you feel as if you are in a strange new world. With magnificent views... this really is escapism!

Together with Selsley Common, these stretches of common land provide an ideal open space for walking, horse-riding, kite and model plane flying, or simply relaxing while listening to the soaring song of the skylark.

Across the valley, you can see the slow stately movement of the wind-turbine at Nympsfield, the very first one in the Cotswolds AONB.

Winstone's home-made local ice cream is irresistible on warm sunny days, especially when served directly from their shop-front on Rodborough Common!

The South Cotswolds epitomises all that is best about an unspoiled English landscape – listen to the birdsong, enjoy the butterflies, delight in the rare orchids … and escape from the pressures of everyday life.

The views from Coaley Peak Picnic Site are truly magnificent but, for many, the countryside around Cam Peak and Cam Long Down, cannot be beaten. Or, why not leave the car and discover the Site of Special Scientific Interest at Stinchcombe Hill. Here, you can enjoy the views and also admire the conservation projects which are reclaiming large areas of limestone and grassland for protected flora and butterflies, as well as the threatened skylark.

Want to find out more about our commons please visit the attractions page and click on picnic sites and views

The Gloucester - Sharpness Canal

Opened in 1827, the 16 mile canal was built to enable boats to reach Gloucester Docks and avoid the narrow winding stretch of the River Severn.

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