A family day out exploring The Cotswolds with Cotswold Discovery Trail
I moved to Gloucestershire just over 20 years ago. I love where I live, and one of the things I enjoy doing on this blog is sharing all the wonderful places that the area has to offer.
When Cotswold Discovery Trail asked us to review one of their self-guided Cotswold tours, I jumped at the chance. As much as I love a Cotswold village, we haven’t visited many with the girls, so this seemed to be the perfect excuse to have a family day out exploring The Cotswolds. The Cotswold Discovery Trail pack consisted of a double-sided map, with a North trail on one side and a South trail on the other, two copies of a Local Logo Challenge, two copies of a Kids Cotswold Challenge, a couple of pens and note pads, a letter explaining how to best follow the trails, a compass, a small torch and a car sticker.
Each trail has been written and designed as a circular routes that take a day long to complete. There are 5-6 designated start points, so you can choose where to begin, and finish close to this. Both routes involve visiting towns, villages, countryside and historical monuments and between them you visit the four historic counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. If you take the North Trail, you stop off at the market towns of Northleach and Burford, and the classic Cotswold villages of Stow-on-the-Wold, Chipping Campden, Bourton-on-the-Water, Upper & Lower Slaughters and Winchcombe. You can appreciate the beauty of the area from the amazing views provided by Broadway Tower and visit the historical sites of Sudeley Castle and Belas Knap.
With one of the starting points on the South Trail being at Painswick, which is just up the road from us, we decided to take this route. In addition to Painswick, the South Trail takes you to the vilages of Bibury, Chedworth, Minchinhampton, Badminton and Sherston and the town of Tetbury. You are able to enjoy the stunning scenery from Painswick Beacon as well as discovering an Iron Age fort. You also pass the source of the River Thames and visit a Roman Amphitheatre on the outskirts of Cirencester.
First stop for us was Painswick. I cannot tell you how many times we have driven through Painswick, on our way to Stroud and Westonbirt. I always enjoy passing the churchyard with its famous 99 yew trees. However, we have never stopped and spent time here. I am so glad that we had this trail as we have really missed out not visiting here properly before.
We parked up in the village and had a wander around the churchyard and village itself. As part of the trail, there are a series of questions to answer en route and at the destinations. They have been written in a way that means you have to look for the answers rather than relying on Google. It was a great way to discover the village and keep the girls intrested.
The South Trail is 82.5 miles in total. However, with this broken up into ten stops and the brilliant Kids Cotswold Challenge provided in the pack, the girls didn’t moan about spending time in the car. Their Kids Cotswold Challenge went down really well, as they tried to spot all the items on the list including red telephone boxes and wind socks.
Also in the pack is the Local Logo Challenge, however, with the questions we had to answer as part of the trail and the Kids Cotswold Challenge, we felt it was too much for us to also do this. However, it means that we can do the trail again, going back to some of the places we enjoyed and have a different experience trying to complete the Logo Challenge.
One of the great things about the trail was that there was plenty of places to stop at for a break or refreshments.
I think one of the highlights of the trail for us was the Roman Amphitheatre near Cirencester. I have been to Cirencester lots of times in the past, but because the Amphitheatre is out of the town centre I had never been. It is definitely worth a visit, and we enjoyed the short, rural walk around the remains. The highlight for the girls were rolling down the grassy slopes, and pretending they were Roman soldiers fighting a lion.
The Cotswold Discovery Trail is a brilliant idea. It would be an ideal tool for visitors to the area wanting to explore both the geography and history of The Cotswolds, but it is also brilliant for locals in order to find a new favourite spot, pub or just find out something new about this amazing place.
The Cotswold Discovery Trail pack costs £36 for the paper map. Considering this includes both trails, the Kids Cotswold Challenge and Local Logo Challenge, and the fact that these can be used over and over again, I think it is great value. However, I would suggest that you do need some planning before you go. Check the route, where the suggested parking is and make sure that you have change for car parks. The map is beautiful but large, so some strategic folding is needed as you move from stop to stop! I would definitely recommend you give it a go – we will definitely be exploring the North Trail before too long!
Disclaimer: We were provided with the Cotswold Discovery Trail pack in order to review it, but all thoughts and opinions are our own.