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The charming Cotswolds is far more than picture-perfect rolling countryside studded by traditional cosy pubs. Whilst nature lovers, walking enthusiasts and eager tourists from around the world often come prepared bearing a bucket list of ‘must see’ locations to visit, the region is also home to a plethora of hidden gems that you may not have otherwise considered.
Take a little look closer and you’ll discover a wealth of surprising attractions that are sure to make your holiday in the Cotswolds even more memorable. We have narrowed down five of our favourite hidden gems in the Cotswolds to inspire your next getaway.
Mysteriously resting atop a limestone ridge on the boundary between Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, the Rollright Stones is an ancient site consisting of three separate groups of standing stones: The King’s Men stone circle, the King Stone, and the Whispering Knights.
There is a rich variety of folklore traditions and legends surrounding these stones, from tales of witchcraft with a failed king being turned into a solitary stone and his guards into standing stones arranged in a giant circle, to fortune telling; the stones being sources of fertility and also acting as oracles. The atmospheric site is widely visited for its alleged supernatural and healing properties as well as underground leylines. It has also been designated as a Dark Sky Discovery Site, meaning it’s excellent for stargazing.
With so much historical significance, these hidden Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments need to be added to your Cotswolds itinerary.
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. We have tried counting these stones ourselves and believe us when we say, it’s much harder than you might expect! Why not have a go when you visit?
Daylesford Organic Farm
The pinnacle of all farm shops, Daylesford Organic Farm is home to everything your heart could ever desire - a retail heaven of organic gorgeousness. Not only does it sell the most mouth-watering range of produce and elegant homewares, it is home to an award-winning café, a spa frequented by many a Cotswolds celebrity, a cookery school, a beautiful garden and flower shop, and a clothes shop boasting the most exquisite designs, all surrounded by incredibly photogenic grounds.
This foodie destination in the Cotswolds is an experience never to be missed and is a place of serenity as you immerse yourself in its delightful pleasures. You simply will not find a place like it elsewhere. Wonderful all year-round, we particularly love visiting at Christmas when festive treats aplenty are on display and there are fun seasonal workshops including wreath making.
Secret tip: Our favourite thing to do when we visit is 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! Why not pick up a delicious home-made pot of chutney and some crackers to go with your cheese and take it back to your cottage for supper?
Summer in the Cotswolds is all about the lavender. Between June and September, the fields of Snowshill burst into life, blanketed in a carpet of over 35 breath-taking varieties of colourful blooms. Delight in the sun’s warm embrace and wander amongst 90 miles of around 500,000 fragrant plants – a camera is essential.
The crops are harvested, and steam distilled on the farm and made into unique lavender products, including the highest quality English Lavender Essential Oils which can be purchased from the on-site gift shop. When your bags are bursting with lovely lavender goodies, there is a tea room with a great selection of savoury and sweet dishes to compliment your choice of beverage.
Secret tip: Be sure to visit the café and sample the delectable array of lavender laden treats – we particularly recommend the lavender shortbread and ice-cream.
Bibury Trout Farm
This Cotswolds hidden gem may sound strange but believe us, the Bibury Trout Farm is a great day out for the whole family. One of Britain’s oldest, and certainly most attractive Trout Farms, it was founded in 1902 to ensure the local rivers and streams were stocked with native Brown Trout. The crystal-clear waters of Bibury Spring cover 15 acres of the Coln Valley, one of the most mesmerising valleys in the Cotswolds, providing the perfect home for the hatchery which spawns up to six million trout every year. The chocolate-box village of Bibury is a reason in itself to visit the trout farm, referred by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village in England’.
If you’re holidaying with children, watch their little faces light up in delight as trout dramatically leap out of the water in their quest for food thrown by visitors – it is a sight to behold. Budding fishermen can try catching their supper in the ‘Catch Your Own’ Fishery’ and in the summer months, visitors can purchase disposable barbeques from the gift shop and dine al fresco amongst the resident wildlife.
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.
The Cotswolds Distillery
Nestled in five acres of marvellous Cotswold countryside, you will discover another of our favourite hidden gems. The Cotswolds Distillery is the first full-scale craft distillery in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It boasts Cotswold Single Malt Whiskey made with Cotswold-grown barley, and an award-winning Cotswold Dry Gin featuring local lavender from nearby Snowshill (as mentioned earlier), all created by a passionate small team of distillers who put quality and flavour above all else. When you visit, have a browse of their exclusive range of small-batch spirits and liqueurs also on offer.
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. Just be sure to book your tour in advance, as spaces are limited.
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 – we particularly recommend the Cotswolds Cream Liqueur, it’s divine!
If you have been inspired by these hidden gems in the Cotswolds, browse our collection of holiday cottages in the Cotswolds today and find the perfect retreat for a staycation to remember. We would love to see your favourite holiday moments, simply tag us and use #sheepskinlife for the chance to be featured on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages.