Top 10 things to do in Gloucestershire
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Gloucestershire is one the most varied and interesting counties in the UK and you will never be short of things to do there. At Highgrove House take a bracing walk among the national collection of trees at the Westonbirt Arboretum. This Forestry Commission site is accessible and dogs are allowed. There are always vessels to be seen in Gloucester’s historic docks, from narrow boats and barges to sailing vessels. Meanwhile, why not pay the National Waterways Museum a visit? The Gloucester Museums Pass gives access to this and also the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum (telling the story of the regiment), the Gloucester Life Museum and the Museum of Gloucester.
In Tewkesbury, the John Moore Museum commemorates the work of the naturalist and writer, with an extensive natural history collection and children’s activities. The museum is next to the Abbey in a preserved row of timber-framed buildings, amongst which is the Merchant’s House – a 15th-century shop and dwelling. The Old Baptist Chapel was renovated by the museum, and its artefacts include an ancient minute-book, partly written in code to protect the writer from political enemies during the restoration of King Charles II. The Corinium Museum in Cirencester focuses on the Romans in Gloucestershire, with impressive displays of mosaics, artefacts and archaeological finds housed in light, well-presented galleries.
A short drive away is Chedworth Roman Villa (National Trust) where you can see how the villa was set out, its mosaics and a museum of finds from archaeological digs. Nearby Sudeley Castle is privately owned and open to visitors from March to December. Visitors come for its 1,000 years of history and associations with Tudor royalty – Henry VIII’s sixth and surviving wife, Katherine Parr, is buried here. Down in the Forest of Dean, something stirs. It could either be a Gruffalo at the Dean Heritage Centre in Soudley or the almost silent wingbeat of a raptor at The International Centre for Birds of Prey in Newent. Hawks, owls, kites and falcons will fly to land on your fist and you can learn about conservation and breeding of these wonderful creatures.
Berkeley GL13 9PJ
Berkeley Castle is considered by many as a hidden gem; it was built in 1153 by the Berkeley family, who still live there. Over the centuries it has changed from a foreboding fortress to a welcoming family home. Travel throughout time and history, from the Keep with its dungeon, the room where Edward II is said to have been murdered, to the Drawing Rooms with their fine upholstery, chandeliers and silver lamps. Visitors can see superb tapestries, silverware, paintings from the 16th-20th centuries, fine furniture and a unique spider’s web ceiling. Visit website
Guiting Power, Cheltenham GL54 5FL
Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park is home to Britain’s most comprehensive collection of rare breeds of British farm animals. It is very much a working farm, with plenty of activities for the youngsters, including rabbits and guinea pigs to stroke, lambs and goat kids to bottle feed, piglets to meet, seasonal demonstrations (lambing, shearing or milking), farm safari ride, 2-mile Wildlife Walk and play areas both indoors and outside. Discover all the farming experiences you could wish for, with the comforts of easy parking, a restaurant, gift shop and picnic area. The Cotswold Farm Park also has its own camping and caravanning site. Visit website
Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 9AD
Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre is home to the country’s largest private collection of trees and shrubs. It’s an intimate and romantic place to visit, with interest all year round from the first snowdrops of spring, right through to the outstanding autumn colour in October and November. Visiting Batsford with little ones? The children’s trail is a fun way to explore the Arboretum, keeping little ones interested and entertained! Plus, on completion of each trail, every child gets a prize! Ask about our children’s trail at the admissions desk. Visit website
Phillip’s Field, Whichford Road, Stourton, Shipston-on-Stour CV36 5EX
From its single malt whisky to its gins and liqueurs, everything made at the Cotswolds Distillery is about quality and flavour above all else. For a chance to see inside a bustling craft distillery set in beautiful Cotswolds countryside, book a place on one of the award-winning tour and tasting experiences. Tours run three times a day, seven days a week and must be booked in advance. Or pop along to the distillery shop to have a chat and sample some delicious spirits and liqueurs. Visit website
Evesham Road, Cheltenham GL50 4SH
Cheltenham, the jewel in jump racing’s crown, plays host to the best jumping action in the world from 350 spectacular acres in the lee of the beautiful Cotswold hills. Whether you’re here on a crisp bright October day or a balmy evening in May, you’ll feel that unmistakeable Cheltenham magic. The racing, the setting, the tradition and history, the shared sense of enjoyment all combine to give everyone, from those sampling the finest hospitality to the racegoers on the course, an experience they’ll never forget. Visit website
Gloucestershire restaurants and cafes
Gloucestershire nightlife venues
Gloucestershire cultural attractions
Image credits: ©Cotswold Farm Park; Courtesy of Cheltenham Racecourse; Mike Tayler/Batsford Arboretum; Nick Turner/Berkeley Castle; Tom Elms Photography/Cotswolds Distillery