The Cotswolds Best Kept Secrets

There are few places as charming as the Cotswolds, with its picture-perfect rolling countryside, signature honey-hued villages and traditional pubs with open fireplaces. Take a closer look and there you will find a wealth of surprising attractions and hidden gems waiting to be discovered that are sure to make your holiday in the Cotswolds even more memorable.

We have done the hard work for you and found some of the Cotswolds best kept secrets – and places that we think are too good to miss during your visit.

Cotswold Lavender

If you are visiting the Cotswolds during the summer, be sure to head to Cotswold Lavender where an extraordinary scene awaits. Between June and September, the fields of Snowshill burst into life, blanketed in a photogenic carpet of over 35 breath-taking varieties of lavender. Wander amongst 90 miles of around 500,000 fragrant blooms and pick up lovely lavender goodies from the on-site gift shop. Because this Insta-worthy event only occurs for a few months each year it is easily missed, so don’t forget to pop this secret destination on your Cotswolds itinerary.

Secret tip: Visit the on-site café where you can sample a delectable array of lavender laden treats – we particularly recommend the lavender shortbread and ice-cream.

The Cotswolds Distillery

On the theme of lavender, discover another of our favourite hidden gems at The Cotswolds Distillery in Shipston-on-Stour. Here, the lavender farmed from Snowshill is blended into an award-winning Cotswold Dry Gin in the first full-scale craft distillery in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. As well as their refreshing gin, they also create a Cotswold Single Malt Whiskey made with Cotswold-grown barley, along with a variety of small-batch spirits and liqueurs. The best way to enjoy this unique attraction is by booking onto a distillery tour which offers a rare opportunity to see a range of different spirits being lovingly crafted, and you can see (and smell!) the processes in action before revelling in a tasting in front of a cosy log fire.

Secret tip: If you’re the designated driver, don’t worry, there is an opportunity to taste the spirits at the end of the tour and the friendly staff are very happy to pop some samples in little plastic pots for you to take home and try.

Rollright Stones

The mysterious and ancient site of the Rollright Stones is a Cotswolds treasure, bursting with tales of folklore and legends, as well as its alleged supernatural and healing properties and underground leylines. Resting atop a limestone ridge in Great Rollright, on the boundary between Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, there are three separate groups of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments: The King’s Men stone circle, the King Stone, and the Whispering Knights. On a sunny afternoon, it makes for a wonderful walk with scenic trails running alongside the site, while those interested in stargazing will be pleased to note that this is also a designated Dark Sky Discovery Site.

Secret tip: Legend has it that it is impossible to count the King’s Men. It is said that anyone who counts the stones three times finding the same number each time will have their heart’s desire fulfilled. Why not have a go when you visit?

Wychwood Wild Garden

 

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If a secret garden is what you're after, head towards Shipton-Under-Wychwood where you will find the enchanting Wychwood Wild Gardens. Hidden behind creaking wrought iron gates, a wonderland of 12.5 acres of community owned gardens and woodland are waiting to be explored. Drift along an avenue of a hundred limes, some over 250 years old, admire the elliptical Round Pond – home to ducks and moorhens, and discover the magnificent Cedar of Lebanon, possibly over 300 years old. There is a myriad of canals, waterfalls and pathways to navigate, shrouded by willows and fragrant fauna.

Secret tip: To see the Round Pond in it’s elliptical form you need to stand on the bridge – it makes for an incredible photo opportunity.

Daylesford Organic Farm

Why not take a piece of the Cotswolds home with you from the pinnacle of all farm shops, Daylesford Organic Farm? This retail heaven of organic gorgeousness near Kingham boasts not only the most mouth-watering range of produce and unique homewares but offers visitors the chance to dine in style in its award-winning café, relax in its spa (frequented by many a Cotswolds celebrity), and learn how to create culinary masterpieces in its cookery school. Set within stunning grounds, this foodie destination in the Cotswolds is an experience not to be missed.

Secret tip: Head straight to the Cheese Room – from floor to ceiling there is an endless display of unusual and enticing cheeses to whet your appetite. The hardest part is deciding which ones to try!

Wilderness Festival

The Cotswolds is home to many fantastic festivals and events throughout the year, but one of the lesser known (for now!) is the annual Wilderness Festival in August. Set against the breath-taking backdrop of Cornbury Park near Woodstock, this fabulously quirky Cotswolds festival boasts wood-fired hot tubs, theatre performances, skinny-dipping in the lake, late-night masked balls, debates, arts and crafts for kids and of course, a brilliant line-up of live music such as Grace Jones, and the Two Door Cinema Club. Run by Lady Rotherwick, this unique festival in the Cotswolds is a far cry from the muddy backwaters of Glastonbury.

Secret tip: Taking a dip in Wilderness’ lake is a must - whether you enjoy a refreshing swim on a sunny afternoon or indulge in a zen experience of ‘paddleboard yoga’.

Bibury Trout Farm

 

Trout farm, Bibury Cotswolds

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Watch children’s faces light up in delight at Bibury Trout Farm where the fish dramatically leap out of the water in their quest for food thrown by visitors. A sight to behold, this is one of Britain’s oldest, and certainly most attractive Trout Farms located in the chocolate-box village of Bibury - referred by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village in England’. The hatchery spawns up to six million trout every year, perfect for budding fishermen who want to try catching their supper in the ‘Catch Your Own’ Fishery’. During the summer months, visitors can purchase disposable barbeques from the gift shop and dine al fresco amongst the resident wildlife – a great day out in the Cotswolds for the whole family.

Secret tip: The gift shop sells cups of fish food for around 60p, which is worth purchasing as it is incredible to see the water come to life as the fish vie for every last morsel.

Blockley

 

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One of our favourite secret spots for a summer’s picnic in the Cotswolds is in the charming village of Blockley. This hidden gem of a village is full of quintessential Cotswolds charm, nestled in a lush valley surrounded by gently rolling hills. Lay out a blanket on the banks of the mill stream that winds its way through the bottom of the valley, or head onto the traditional village green, overlooking the picturesque Norman Church. Bliss!

Secret tip: If you’re looking for picnic supplies, nearby Moreton-in-Marsh is home to the Cotswold Food Store which is packed full of locally sourced food and drink. It also claims to sell the best olives in the Cotswolds!

The Lido

If the sun is shining, there is no better place to cool down than at The Lido in Chipping Norton, a true oasis in the Cotswolds. Boasting an eco-friendly heated 25m pool and toddler pool, as well as a slide, café and grassy area with picnic tables, this secret attraction in the Cotswolds is fun for everyone. Just imagine yourself poolside, ice cream in hand, all your troubles melting away…

Secret tip: If you want this outdoor paradise all to yourself, The Lido offers an early morning swim session – what better way to kick start your holiday in the Cotswolds!

Broadway Tower

Most visitors to the Cotswolds will wander through the pretty village of Broadway at some point during their stay – it’s one of the most photographed locations in this beautiful region. However, if you take a scenic stroll along a footpath that winds its way up the hill beyond the village you will find one of England’s most outstanding viewpoints, Broadway Tower. Standing at 65ft high, this unique 18th century Capability Brown Folly Tower is the second highest point on the Cotswold escarpment and boasts panoramic views over 16 counties from the top. Along with its awe-inspiring views, you will also find an interesting exhibition on William Morris and intriguingly, a nuclear bunker of the Royal Observer Corps which is open to visitors on weekends.

Secret tip: If you’re looking for a dog-friendly day out in the Cotswolds, this is the place to go. Located on the Cotswold Way, Broadway Tower is a great place to start a dog-friendly walk and there is a dog-friendly café to relax in afterwards serving a fine selection of afternoon teas and local specialities, as well as tasty treats for happy hounds.

The Slaughters

For a walk to remember, we think the mile-long amble between the timeless honey-coloured twin villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter is just perfect. On a dreamy summer’s day, you can follow the path lined with rose-clad cottages beside the River Eye, perhaps dipping your toes in its shallow water, and stop for an afternoon tea in The Old Mill – once used to produce flour, but now a tea room, ice cream parlour, craft shop and museum. These two untouched villages are the epitome of idyllic Cotswolds charm and have been widely used for filming and productions. Copse Hill Road in Lower Slaughter has even been named as the most romantic street in Britain!

Secret tip: There is limited parking in the Slaughters, but they are easily reached on foot via a scenic stroll from Bourton-on-the-Water.

Map of the Cotswolds best kept secrets

Where to stay

With all the comforts of a home from home, set in beautiful locations, our holiday cottages in the Cotswolds are the perfect places to rest your weary legs after a day of exploring the regions’ best kept secrets. Why not have a browse of our collection and find the perfect retreat for a staycation to remember?

More inspiration

If you're thinking of bringing the whole family, our guide to the best kids’ days out in the Cotswolds is sure to be helpful.

Posted by Kate Atkin on 18th May 2018