The Cotswolds will always have a special place in my heart. It was where we spent our first bank holiday after moving to the UK. This was also our first family hike and our first encounter with the rolling hills of the English countryside. It is no surprise that it is listed as an “area of outstanding natural beauty” covering six different English counties.
When to go
We visited during the May bank holiday when the weather was pleasant enough to stay outdoors most of the day. I am pretty sure it is beautiful all year around as long as you make sure to dress for the weather!
Where to stay
After doing our homework on travel websites and asking our friends, we decided to go for Cheltenham because it is quite a central location in the Cotswolds. We stayed at a charming bed and breakfast called Cotswolds Grange Hotel that was also dog-friendly! A standard double room with a huge bathroom starts at £95. The staff was very friendly printing us maps and giving us tips as we enjoyed our yummy English breakfast. Win!
How to get there
We decided to drive there since it only takes a couple of hours from London. We also felt that a car would be handy to have to be able to get around the different points of interest whether ruins, castles, parks or churches.
What to pack for your family hike
Depending on the weather make sure you pack layered clothing since you will be out most of the day. You will also need suitable attire for the great outdoors such as hiking boots, wellies and raincoats. Take snacks and fill up your water bottles since you will be getting physical as expected on any family hike.
What to do
Explore the historical castles of the Cotswolds
After checking in at the hotel, we started off by visiting Sudeley Castle and Garden. It is the site of burial of Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, Katherine Parr. My husband was already tired from the drive and not very keen on sightseeing anyway. So he chose to enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the dog-friendly cafe. Meanwhile, my daughter and I got to explore the castle rooms and exhibitions. In the garden, there were actors dressed up in Tudor fashion and jugglers teaching circus tricks to the children. There is a lovely playground complete with a wooden fortress, zipline and obstacle course which got my daughter really excited. Tickets are £ 11.55 for adults and £ 5.25 for children aged between 5 and 15.
Next we visited Broadway Tower which claims to be Cotswolds’ highest castle. The great thing about it is that you can pace yourself and visit the exhibitions on each of the three floors before reaching the top. That way you can actually enjoy the view without feeling out of breath! We had lunch at yet another dog-friendly cafe called Morris and Brown before going back to the hotel for an early night in.
Go on a family hike and bring the dog
The beauty of the Cotswolds is that you can find a range of walking tours and nature trails to suit every level from beginner to serious hiker. Since we are amateurs at this and this was literally our first ever family hike, we decided to go to Cleeve Common. That way we were able to spend as much time as we can walking around and taking in the views. We knew it was our cue to leave when our dog decided to roll around in some sheep (or fox) mess! So we headed back to the hotel and after freshening up we went into Cheltenham town centre for a delicious pub lunch and some shopping.
Relax at a park after your family hike
Our hotel was right next to Pittville Park, so after breakfast we headed over there. It was a lovely way to spend the morning walking around the lake and watching the swans and ducks go about their business. My husband and daughter decided to rent a small boat from the boathouse. I sipped on my hot chocolate and pretended to watch the dog. It was soon time to check out from the hotel and hit the road back to London.
Staying longer than a weekend?
I would definitely love to visit the Cotswolds again (perhaps this time without my dog! Sorry doggo!) just so that we can visit more castles and churches. If I do visit Cheltenham again, I would like to attend an event at the Cheltenham Racecourse and get a ride on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway between the Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. There is a wealth of information on this official website to help you plan your trip and I hope the above is inspiring too.
Want more than a family hike?
There are lots of beautiful towns in the English countryside that you can visit such as Bath or Stratford-upon Avon. Just remember to slow down and enjoy the beautiful nature around you.