Characterised by rolling hills, ancient woodland and sleepy villages of honey-coloured cottages, the Cotswolds is pretty enough to charm even those who are lucky enough to live there.

Stretching for 100 miles across the five counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, this is the England of picture books. A tapestry of farmland is divided by 4,000 miles of historic Cotswold stone walls and covered with a scattering of pretty market towns, stately homes and castles.

Its name comes from the English words cote, meaning shelter, and wold meaning high open land, and its fields are home to flocks of Cotswold sheep. The undulating landscape means you are rewarded with spectacular views over the Vale of Evesham or the Severn Valley, depending on where you are, or simply across the myriad of meadows and orchards.

The Cotswolds is an outdoor lovers’ dream with most people coming to walk or cycle through the beautiful countryside. Parks are filled with snowdrops and bluebells in the spring, gardens bloom with English roses in the summer and the two arboretums of Westonbirt and Batsford are a sea of orange and red come autumn. Winter is just as magical with brisk walks past fields covered in a light dusting of snow en route to the local pub to sit by the roaring fire.

As well as picture-perfect villages, there are beautiful towns and cities to explore including the Regency spa town of Cheltenham and the cathedral city of Gloucester.

What to do

  • Walk through the beautiful Cotswold countryside
  • Admire the burnt orange leaves in autumn at Westonbirt and Batsford arboreta
  • Visit Highgrove House and Gardens, the private redidence of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall
  • Explore antique shops and boutiques in picture-perfect market towns