/What IS the Cotswolds? And why is it so popular with travelers?

What IS the Cotswolds? And why is it so popular with travelers?

The Cotswolds is remarkably ill-defined for such a well-known region. Is it… a town? A county? A group of towns and counties formed just to justify the plurality of the name?

Well, yes. And no.

Measuring roughly 25 by 90 miles, the Cotswolds is a range of gentle hillsides and sleepy historic towns in west-central England that many consider the quintessential English landscape.

Cottage in the Cotswolds

The British government has designated it “The Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”, and despite sounding a little over-the-top the name is actually quite accurate!

One of the unique things about the Cotswolds is the uniformity of architecture; most of the cottages were built using local yellow limestone, and now any time a new building goes up it has to abide by certain regulations to maintain the region’s historic look and feel… which means there aren’t any generic Sainsbury supermarkets in the area mucking up the ambiance.

The Cotswolds; Bibury Arlington Row Cottages

The Cotswolds; Arlington Row Cottages in Bibury

Despite being extremely popular with tourists, the vast majority of villages in the Cotswolds are actual towns where locals live and work and eat and shop. Granted, you’d have to be quite wealthy to buy one of those houses, but it adds a functional charm that’s truly lovely.

Cottage in the Cotswolds

Our tour of southern England didn’t provide anywhere near enough time in the Cotswolds to suit our (rather demanding) needs, but our short visit was more than long enough to spark a love affair.

We discovered that we LOVE the Cotswolds. Adore the Cotswolds. Would make tons of adorable little babies with the Cotswolds, if we were into that sort of thing and were quite sure it was legal.

The Cotswolds; Lacock Abbey

The Cotswolds; Lacock Abbey

For years now we’ve tossed around the idea of buying a little campervan to use as a mobile HQ while exploring Europe. This idea was inspired by the travel blog of Mike and Katherine, an Australian couple who have been doing just that for a few years now. Theirs was the very first travel blog we discovered, and one of the inspirations behind our year-long motorhome tour of the United States.

There are many benefits to living in an RV fulltime, and the lifestyle’s particularly well suited to our dream of exploring the entire U.K., some of Europe, and perhaps even northern Africa at our own slow-as-a-turtle pace.

During our tour – as we were gleefully frolicking through the streets of quaint Cotswolds villages – we made a decision. This nebulous travel plan that we’ve carried with us for almost two years? It’s happening.

I don’t know when, and I don’t know how, but we’re coming back to the Cotswolds. And this time we’re going to enjoy every inch of it.

Cottage in The Cotswolds

Want to see more photos of the Cotswolds? Check out our Facebook album for England.

NOTE: We visited The Cotswolds as part of a complimentary tour from International Friends; read our review of International Friends to learn more about the area.