10 Alternative And lesser-knowN gems

Green BulletBLEDINGTON Village green, maypole and The King’s Head make this relatively unknown village a delight.

Green BulletSTANTON Deep in good walking country near Broadway, Stanton may also look familiar from TV locations, but is quiet and relaxed with a no-nonsense pub serving hearty fare to walkers.

Green BulletMAUGERSBURY Park in Stow-on-the-Wold and take the short, ancient track down to nearby Maugersbury to experience a deserted but beautiful village, with rustic valley views. Commercial activity is limited to the occasional pot of honey for sale outside one of the cottages.

Green BulletWYCK RISSINGTON Whilst its neighbour Bourtonon- the-Water is often packed with visitors, Wyck is a step back to pure ‘Miss Marple’ country. Historic cottages, village green, pond and church are all you’ll see, but there is a beautiful sense of calm.

Green BulletSWINBROOK The Swan at Swinbrook has associations with the Mitford girls, there’s cricket on the green and the locals are friendly.

Green BulletABLINGTON / COLN ST ALDWYNS Bibury is a ‘must see’ village for the first-time visitor and it’s popular around the world too – expect to see visitors from China, Japan and elsewhere. For the antidote take the short walk to pretty Ablington or drive to nearby Coln St Aldwyns for riverside strolls, birdsong and utter peace.

Green BulletCOTSWOLD WATER PARK Near Cirencester, hundreds of man-made lakes offer a surprising aspect of the Cotswolds, with a barbecue beach, nature walks and cycling and water-based activities\ from kayaking to wakeboarding.

Green BulletMINCHINHAMPTON A place that Cotswolders tend to keep themselves. It’s pretty and located in some of the most spectacular valley-top scenery around Stroud. Awareness is on the up after it appeared as a location in J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy.

Green BulletNORTHLEACH Also used as a The Casual Vacancy location (see Minchinhampton), Northleach has a beautiful ‘Wool’ Church and a charming little town square, including a bustling combined\ wine bar and coffee shop.

Green BulletPAINSWICK Another lesser-known gem of a town, Painswick has an elegant church spire, spectaculartopiary in the churchyard and offers a glimpse of ‘old’ Cotswolds. Best of all are spectacular valley views.

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Surprising CoTswolds

another quiet day in the cotswolds!

Most visitors rightly want to see a Cotswold garden, have afternoon tea and maybe browse in an antique shop, but if you prefer to go a little off piste, here are some slightly different themes to explore.

EXTREME SPORTS

The second May Bank Holiday weekend is the time to visit for weird and wonderful sporting events. Cheese Rolling takes place just outside Gloucester, on Cooper’s Hill and is precisely as it sounds. The hill is so steep that the local Rugby Club waits at the bottom to catch out of control cheeserollers. Woolsack Races at Tetbury are a reminder of the importance of the wool trade. The Cotswold Olimpicks are over 400 years old and involve shin-kicking (see above – note hobnailed boots), tugs of war and various other country sports. (Plastic) Duck Racing pops up at various fêtes around the Cotswolds, or you can head to Bibury on Boxing Day for the world championships.

GET STONED

Uley Barrow www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/uley-long-barrow-hetty-peglers-tump
Also known as Hetty Pegler’s Tump. Neolithic.

Painswick Beacon www.walkingenglishman.com/cotswolds07.html
With fabulous views as far as Wales, the site includes Kimsbury Hill Fort, first inhabited in the Iron Age between 500 and 100 BC.

Belas Knap www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/belas-knap-long-barrow
A steep walk leads to a Neolithic long barrow, circa 3,800BC.

Rollright Stones www.rollrightstones.co.uk
Stone circle with plenty of legends attached…

ROMAN COTSWOLDS

Spoonley Wood
www.winchcombewelcomeswalkers.com Enjoyed by Bill Bryson. A chance to see Roman Villa\ remains that haven’t been ‘heritaged’. They’re all the more atmospheric for that.

Chedworth Roman Villa
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chedworth-roman-villa

North Leigh Roman Villa
www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/north-leigh-roman-villa

Corinium Museum
www.coriniummuseum.org Cirencester was a major Roman town – reflected in\the quality of this fine museum....and don’t forget Roman Bath!

THE FIVE VALLEYS

Stroud, a no-nonsense working town (great Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning); is refreshing after the sequence of picture perfect villages to the north. The main reason for visiting are the five valleys that converge on the town. To the north are Painswick Valley and Laurie Lee’s Slad Valley, competing to be the most beautiful. Head for the glorious Rodborough and Minchinhampton Commons (visit to blow the cobwebs away and have a Winstones ice cream).

Surprising Cotswolds