Places to Visit in the CotswoldsThe Cotswolds area is one of England's favourite destinations; famous for hundreds of honey-colour limestone villages in a beautiful rural setting. Popular with international visitors from all over the world, the area is well known for gentle hillsides (‘wolds’), outstanding countryside with river valleys, water meadows and beech woods, historic market towns and for being so ‘typically English’ where time has stood wonderfully still for over 300 years!
Here’s a small collection of our favourite places to visit. There are many, many more and we look forward to hearing about what you discover in the Cotswolds…
Open most days, Malmesbury Abbey is just a stone’s throw from The Old Bell Hotel. Standing proud in the centre of town, Malmesbury Abbey can be seen for many miles beyond this classic Cotswolds market town. A monastery was first established on the site in the seventh century, and the present building dates back to 1180 – only 40 years older than The Old Bell Hotel! Thanks to an extensive restoration programme, part of the original building now holds regular services and acts as the local Parish church. The Abbey welcomed more than 50,000 visitors last year and is an important cornerstone of England's offering of historic buildings, as well as places of worship. More information: http://www.malmesburyabbey.com/
The Old Bell Hotel is just 15 minutes away from the renowned Westonbirt National Arboretum. Open all year round, its 600 acres nurture more than 18,000 trees and shrubs, as well as many woodland trails and activities.
Widely recognised as the UK's finest collection of trees, and one of the world's most important arboreta, Westonbirt Arboretum plays host to many events throughout the year. The Festival of the Tree celebrates trees in all forms – as places to play, run and hide, to providers of wood for carving and cleansers of the air we breathe. Enchanted Christmas is an opportunity to see the trees as part of a breath-taking magical winter wonderland. Perfect for families, the event includes carols from local choirs and bands, roasted chestnuts and of course, mulled wine! More information: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt
Some 8 miles from The Old Bell at Malmesbury is Highgrove House – the Cotswolds home of HRH Prince Charles. The Highgrove Estate includes Highgrove House and Home Farm, which is farmed by The Duchy of Cornwall and produces organic vegetables, beef and other produce – all of which are available locally. More information: http://www.highgrovegardens.com/
HRH The Prince of Wales is a keen gardener and has devoted much time to planning and designing the gardens at Highgrove House, which are occasionally open to the public. The Highgrove Shop in Tetbury is open daily and sells produce from the farm, as well as china, clothing, garden paraphernalia and gifts.
Abbey House Gardens and The Naked Gardeners
The Abbey House Gardens boast one of the country's largest collections of roses, and are spectacular to visit at any time of the year. As host to the world famous 'Naked Gardeners', visitors to Abbey House Gardens might catch sight of a little more than they bargained for, as the talented and slightly eccentric owners lovingly tend their plants – although it is said that boots and gloves are often worn for protective reasons! The Abbey House Gardens are open daily from 21st March to 21st October.
More information: http://www.abbeyhousegardens.co.uk/.