The Cotswolds is a cyclist’s dream with the combination of lush landscapes, beautiful rolling hills and quaint country villages making this region a magnificent biking experience. There are many lovely villages dotted along our tours, each unique and charming, all crammed with fascinating history, architecture and local character.
The villages and towns scattered through the Cotswolds offer a plethora of heritage and culture. As you pass through these tranquil places, with their village greens, cobbled streets and thatched cottages, it’s easy to imagine that you’ve taken a step back in time.
The market town of Moreton-in-Marsh dates back to the 13th century, with its wide main street and bustling Tuesday market offering a memorable shopping experience. When touring with us you’ll get to spend the night here at the opulent and characterful Manor House Hotel.
Chipping Campden is particularly noteworthy due to its links to William Morris’ Arts and Craft Movement. With its splendid terraced high street dating back to the 14th century, Wool Church of St James and Woolstaplers Hall it’s a fascinating destination. Nearby are the grand gardens of Hidcote Manor, where ornate floral beds blend effortlessly into peaceful meadows.
Bampton is on the edge of the Cotswolds, close to the river Thames in the glorious county of Oxfordshire. This fascinating little town is home to some locations from TV’s Downton Abbey. Look out for the library and St Mary’s church which both often appear in the period drama.
The villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter are as old as they are lovely, both dating back over 1000 years, and located in the most splendid landscape on the banks of the river Eye. Highlights include the Lower Slaughter’s 17th century Manor House and also its impressive water mill. These calm villages are full of narrow lanes and secret corners waiting to be explored.
Also known as ‘the gateway to the Cotswolds’, Burford is a town that’s definitely worth exploring. There’s plenty to see and do with its medieval bridge, broad sloping main street and alluring back lanes. It has a stunning parish church and the hospital dates back to the 13th century. It is also an overnight stop on our tour, staying at the delightful Lamb Inn.
The village is known for its weavers’ cottages, and their mellow Cotswold stone and steeply pitched roofs are a charming sight. Described by the artist William Morris, as ‘the most beautiful village in England’, with the river Coln running through, it is delightfully picturesque.
Think of a movie with an idyllic countryside setting and there’s a high likelihood that it’s been filmed in the Cotswolds. The area is such a quintessential microcosm of England that it has often been used as a location for the filming of movies. Pride and Prejudice, Remains of the Day and Bridget Jones’ Diary have all used the area as a backdrop.
The Cotswolds is England’s largest officially designated ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ and has the largest number of conservation areas of any region in Britain, totalling 144 sites. There is also the Cotswold Way, a protected long distance footpath which offers unbridled views over gentle hillsides and works its way past monuments, ancient battlefields, forests and abbeys.
At the heart of the towns and villages in the Cotswolds are bustling high streets full of little shops, tearooms and pubs that give you a real slice of local life.
Rustic inns often have regional dishes on their menus, giving you a chance to sample the delicacies of the area. And their scenic beer gardens are the perfect place to rest and refresh yourself. Another great way to refuel is with tea and cake. Afternoon tea in a village tearoom served with a slice of homemade Victoria sponge is a deliciously indulgent and an ever-so-English treat.
Shops in the Cotswolds, like the villages themselves, are unique and interesting. There are antique specialists, artisans selling bespoke creations and modern merchants offering fashionable clothing. You’ll find a wide selection of independent shops catering to a visitor’s needs while delivering a warm and friendly welcome.
The Cotswolds is an area of both history and charm. Its landscape of gently rolling hills and its intriguing market towns make it ideally suited for an Active England cycle tour. Perhaps the finest example of England’s rural beauty, the Cotswolds enjoys both a rich heritage and a bountiful landscape.
Find out more about cycling in the Cotswolds with Active England and hear about what it’s like from our Facebook friends.