There's nothing I love more than strolling around in the sunshine (especially when we have so little of it here in the UK) and admiring the British scenery. We are lucky to have such wonderful places dotted around our little isle, many of which are often not featured on tourist maps in favour of bigger cities and discovering a hidden gem can make a journey even more worthwhile. This weekends sunshine has reminded me of the trip I took to the Cotswolds only a few weeks ago and the fact that I still hadn't really blogged about my experience. I took hundreds of photos as everywhere I turned the views were breathtaking and narrowing them down into two or three for a short roundup was a difficult task.
The Cotswolds has always been somewhere I have wanted to explore and with the Cotswolds covering an almighty five counties in the south of England, I can only really say I've dipped my feet into travelling around that area having been only been to three places. Last year I visited Stratford Upon Avon - the tourist hotspot for everything Cotswold and Shakespeare related and this time, I went a little bit off the beaten tourist track to Tewkesbury.
Tewkesbury is a medieval English town in Gloucester, which is one of the many counties which makes up the Cotswolds. It is known for its array of independent stores, quaint coffee shops and antique stores. It rests alongside the River Avon and has boat trips which take you to nearby towns and villages. The town has 350 buildings listed as places of historic interest - perfect for those who like to learn all about English history. Many of the buildings in the town display signs telling you what it used to be hundreds of years ago.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Tewkesbury is Tewkesbury abbey. The abbey dates back to 715 and is the second largest parish church in England and a former Benedictine monastery. The abbey has the most wonderful grounds, all kept in pristine condition and the inside of the abbey has the most beautiful architecture, it is definitely worth a visit.
After spending the night in Tewkesbury at the Tewkesbury Park hotel, we then headed to Cheltenham which is only a fifteen minute drive. The best thing about Tewkesbury is that is it only fifteen minutes either side of two major towns - Gloucester and Cheltenham, making it a perfect base point for your travels. Cheltenham is somewhere I've longed to visit due to it's connection with the races. Unfortunately we didn't visit on race day, but it was still wonderful to stroll around the town and soak up the first bit of UK sunshine this year.
Cheltenham is a regency spa town and known as a cultural hub for the Cotswolds. Every year has many music and art festivals as well as literature and science exhibitions. If you love white washed regal buildings, extravagant parks and fine dining, Cheltenham definitely has to be on your bucket list. The town features a plethora of independent, high street and upmarket stores as well as a large shopping centre and wonderful bars and restaurants. The town has a lot of character from it's beautiful flower stalls to all the unique statues dotted around the centre. It is a place that ticks many boxes for me when it comes to weekend breaks - plenty of places to shop, great night life, wonderful views and also an array of places where you to go escape the hustle and bustle if needed.
My brief, but jam packed weekend away to the Cotswolds has left me with a thirst to discover more and I thoroughly enjoyed what little time I had there. Driving through the countryside and stopping in places like Cheltenham and Tewkesbury, it wasn't hard to realise why these places have been given the prestigious title of 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' by UK environmental agencies and I can't wait to go again.
Have you visited Cheltenham or Tewkesbury?