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The Cotswold Villages by michael ,  Jul 29, 2013

By Rick Steves:

The Cotswold Hills, a 25-by-90-mile chunk of Gloucestershire, are a sightseeing treat: crisscrossed with hedgerows, raisined with storybook villages, and sprinkled with sheep.

As with many fairy-tale regions of Europe, the present-day beauty of the Cotswolds was the result of an economic disaster. Wool was a huge industry in medieval England, and the Cotswold sheep grew the best wool. Wool money built fiine towns and houses. Local "wool" churches are called "cathedrals" for their scale and wealth. A typical prayer etched into their stained glass reads, "I thank my God and ever shall, it is the sheep hath paid for all."

With the rise of cotton and the Industrial Revolution, the woolen industry collapsed. Ba-a-a-ad news. The wealthy Cotswold towns fell into a depressed time warp; the homes of impoverished nobility became gracefully dilapidated. Today visitors enjoy a harmonious blend of man and nature — the most pristine of English countrysides decorated with time-passed villages, rich wool churches, tell-me-a-story stone fences, and kissing gates you wouldn't want to experience alone. Appreciated by throngs of 21st-century romantics, the Cotswolds are enjoying new prosperity.

The area is provincial. Chatty locals, while ever so polite, commonly rescue themselves from a gossipy tangent by saying, "It's all very...ummm...yyya." Rich people open their gardens to support their favorite charities, while the less couth enjoy "badger baiting" (a gambling cousin of cockfighting where a badger, with its teeth and claws taken out, is mangled by dogs).

The north Cotswolds are best. Two of the region's coziest towns, Chipping Campden and Stow-on-the-Wold, are eight and four miles respectively from Moreton-in-Marsh, the only Cotswold town with a train station. Any of these — Chipping Campden, Stow, or Moreton — would make a fine home base for your exploration of the thatch-happiest of Cotswold villages and walks.

The Cotswolds are walking country. The English love their walks and vigorously defend their age-old right to free passage. Once a year the Rambling Society organizes a "Mass Trespass," when each of the country's 50,000 miles of public footpaths is walked. By assuring each path is used at least once a year, they stop landlords from putting up fences. Any paths found blocked are unceremoniously unblocked.

After a well-planned visit, you'll remember everything about the Cotswolds as quaint: the walks, churches, pubs, B&Bs, thatched roofs, gates, tourist offices, and even the sheep.

Nothing to right home about. Very small village on the very south of Cotswold area. I was interesting to see it as example of "non-touristic village". I guess if you skip it you won't loose much.

Cirencester is typical Cotswold market town:

Bourton on the Water is very charming village. It looks like next time I'll choose all villages which are "on-the-water".  

Birdland Park is nice bird zoo to spent an hour and 9 pounds.

By Rick Steves:

Stow-on-the-Wold has become a crowded tourist town, but most visitors are day-trippers, so even summer nights are lazy and quiet. The town has no real sights other than itself, some good pubs, cutesy shops, and art galleries draped seductively around a big town square. The tourist office sells a handy walking tour brochure called Town Trail and the free Cotswold Events guide. 

By Rick Steves:

Chipping Campden is a working market town, home of some proudly thatched roofs and the richest Cotswold wool merchants. Both the great British historian Trevelyan and I call Chipping Campden's High Street the finest in England.

Walk the full length of High Street (like most market towns, wide enough for plenty of sheep business on market days). On one end, you'll find impressively thatched homes (out Sheep Street, past the public WC and ugly gas station, and right on Westington Street). Walking north on High Street, you'll pass the Market Hall (1627), the wavy roof of the first great wool mansion, a fine and free memorial garden, and, finally, the town's famous 15th-century Perpendicular Gothic "wool" church.

Broad Campden:

There is Cotswold Falconry Centre near Moreton-in-Marsh. If you love birds of prey you must visit this place, if you don't you must visit anyway and you will love this birds.