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The beautiful, honey-hued villages and towns of the Cotswolds have a timeless appeal. The history of the region is apparent everywhere you look

- with gorgeous wold churches and elegant manor houses that were built by the rich merchants of old. Flourishes of more recent ties can be observed in the wonderful Arts and Craft heritage in this area of the UK. Factor in the cool festivals, plentiful museums and popular galleries and you will never be short of something to do.

The Cotswolds cover around nearly 800 square miles of land that spreads across the counties of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. The wolds (which mean rolling hills) is the largest area of outstanding natural beauty in all England and Wales.

Around 80 per cent of it is farmland, as it has been for centuries, and is divided by thousands of miles of dry stone walls, boasting many glorious by walking trails. The famous Cotswold Way runs north of Chipping Campden for nearly 100 miles. This rural part of the country is bordered by some our most delightful compact cities - Cirencester, Chichester, Cheltenham, Bath and Oxford.

The westerly part of the Cotswolds is marked dramatically by the breathtakingly steep Cotswold Edge. At the very centre you will find a stretch of the most beautiful uplands, ringed with fascinating heritage sites that date back as far as the industrial revolution, most apparently in the Stroud valleys.

To the south you will find a statelier atmosphere - with both Highgrove (The Prince of Wales’ estate) and Gatcombe Park (belonging to the Princess

Royal) within easy reach. Travel further south still, and the landscape flattens, boasting a plethora of glories including Lacock, the famous National Trust village, and the impressive Corsham Court country house.

The Cotswolds have a year round appeal. In the winter they are quieter and ideal for those wishing to explore on foot, with cosy country pubs aplenty at which to recharge your batteries. Christmas in the Cotswolds is a wonderfully traditional affair that will provide you with some great memories.

Alternatively, visit in spring to see gambolling lambs and huge expanses of wild daffodils. In the summer months the light is truly magical, especially during the endless, balmy evenings. Or, in the autumn, you will be treated to the mesmerising colours of the changing leaves, particularly at the regions two arboreta - Batsford and Westonbirt.

The Cotswolds is an affluent area - with exquisitely kept villages and towns and picture perfect countryside. Prices can be steep to reflect this though, so be prepared to shop around.

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