What it's like
While not at all mountainous, Gloucestershire’s main upland range, the Cotswold Hills, attracts plenty of walkers: some purely to sample the leafy lanes and pretty, tea-shop abundant villages; others to walk the full length of the lofty limestone ridge on the Cotswold Way National Trail that runs for over 100 miles from Chipping Campden in the north, all the way across the county to terminate near Bath, in the south. What these hills lack in altitude, they more than make up for in character and sumptuous, archetypal English scenery. Yet big days can be had, especially around the Cheltenham area, in the centre of the range.
But there’s more to this county than the Cotswolds; with the Forest of Dean defining its western boundary, offering some superb walking trails, lovely family cycling, top-notch and technical mountain biking as well as plenty of industrial history and some great wildlife watching. Like most deciduous woodlands, the forest’s at its best in the autumn.
And then there’s the river and rock paradise of Symond’s Yat – so often mistakenly thought to be in Wales, yet very definitely in England and in truth, straddling the Gloucestershire/Herefordshire border, with Symonds Yat East in Gloucestershire and Symonds Yat West, Herefordshire, and only a ferry to connect the two. Climbers and naturalists are drawn to Symonds Yat Rock to test themselves on the huge limestone wall or gawp at the nesting peregrines that return year after year, whilst canoeists, kayakers and even rafters prefer to run the rapids of the sylvan River Wye.
- The Cotswold Way Take a week and enjoy this very civilised long distance footpath, staying in pretty villages and fuelling up in some lovely inns.
- Forest of Dean Family Cycle Route An enjoyable two-wheeled ramble that loops around some lovely woodland near the Pedal-a-bike-away centre, where even kiddie trailors can be hired.
- Wye Valley Walk This can be followed all the way from Mid Wales, but the meandering Wye, near Symonds Yat, offers plenty of opportunity to make circular riverbank strolls.
Must see and do
- The Severn Bore Surfing in an almost landlocked county, and what a spectacle. Worth watching even if you can’t ride.
- Tyndale Monument A spectacular needle dominating the Cotswold Escarpment near Wotton-under-edge.
- Slimbridge Wild Fowl & Wetlands Centre An ornithologists nirvana, with so much to see as well as a chance to witness some crucial conservation work.
Destination County : Gloucestershire