An absolute gem in an area full of pretty towns, Chipping Campden is a glorious reminder of Cotswolds life in medieval times. The graceful curving main street is flanked by a perfectly picturesque array of stone cottages, fine terraced houses, ancient inns and historic homes, most made of that beautiful honey-coloured Cotswolds stone.
Slithering down a steep hill to a medieval crossing point on the River Windrush, the remarkable village of Burford, 20 miles west of Oxford, is little changed since its glory days at the height of the wool trade. It’s a particularly picturesque place with a striking mix of stone cottages, fine gold-tinged Cotswold town houses and the odd Elizabethan or Georgian treasure.
Home to some beautiful 17th- and 18th-century buildings but plagued by the heavy traffic that clogs up its broad High St (A429; built on top of the Roman Fosse Way), Moreton-in-Marsh is a major transport hub known for its excellent food shops stocking local Cotswold produce. On Tuesday, the town bursts into life for its weekly market. It’s 4.5 miles north of Stow-on-the-Wold.
Stroud, 15 miles west of Cirencester, once hummed with the sound of more than 150 working cloth mills, but when the bottom fell out of the market, the town went into decline. Although a handful of the handsome old mills still operate, the hilly town has now become a bohemian enclave known for its fair-trade shops, independent stores and lively arts scene.
A quintessentially English village with a smattering of antique shops, tearooms and art galleries, Broadway has inspired writers, artists and composers in times past with its graceful, golden-hued cottages set at the foot of a steep escarpment. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the more popular Cotswolds spots, just 5 miles west of Chipping Campden. If the village of Snowshill, 2.
This lovely little hamlet, with its quaint village green and jumble of pretty houses, sits below the overgrown remains of the largest Iron Age hill fort in England, Uley Bury. There are some fascinating sights nearby, including two prehistoric long barrows. Uley is 7.5 miles southwest of Stroud.
Little visited and underappreciated, Northleach has been a small market town since 1227 and comprises late-medieval cottages, imposing merchants’ stores and half-timbered Tudor houses. A wonderful mix of architectural styles clusters around Market Sq and the narrow laneways leading off it. Northleach is 14 miles southeast of Cheltenham.
Once described by William Morris as England’s most beautiful village, Bibury is the Cotswolds at its most picturesque (and popular), with a cluster of perfect riverside cottages and a tangle of narrow streets flanked by attractive stone buildings. It’s 8 miles northeast of Cirencester.
The picture-postcard villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter, 3.5 miles southwest of Stow-on-the-Wold, manage to maintain their unhurried medieval charm despite receiving a multitude of visitors. The village names have nothing to do with abattoirs; they are derived from the Old English ‘sloughtre’, meaning slough or muddy place.