Local towns

A selection of fascinating towns - and one city - within an hour by car. Combine them into memorable days

Towns within 10 miles

Cirencester is often called the Capital of the Cotswolds, and was the second largest town in Britain during Roman times.   Cirencester's market town status was mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086, and it was a very prosperous medieval wool town. The central market square is dominated by the cathedral-like Parish Church of St. John the Baptist which is one of the largest in England. The town contains many interesting buildings spanning several centuries, as well as a rich variety of shops and the market stalls in the old Corn Market.

Nailsworth is a thriving little town just one mile down the hill from Minchinhampton. It has a certain quirky charm and offers a variety of delightful independent shops and places of  interest. Like its larger neighbour, Stroud, it was once noted for its involvement in the Cotswolds woollen trade, and many mills were built in the steep-sided valleys that converge on the town. Some of these fine old buildings have since been converted to new uses such as restaurants, and arts and crafts workshops.

Stroud is four miles from Minchinhampton, and is located at the divergence of the five Golden Valleys, so named after the monetary wealth created from processing wool from the plentiful supply of local water power. During the heyday of the wool trade the river Frome powered 150 mills, turning Stroud into the centre of the local cloth industry. While some of the old mills have been converted into other uses two continue to make cloth - no longer the so-called Stroudwater Scarlet used for military uniforms, but high-quality felt for tennis balls and snooker tables. 

Although not strictly a tourist haunt, Stroud comes alive every Saturday morning when it hosts an excellent weekly Farmers’ Market, which attracts a large number of very good food stalls.

Tetbury is six miles from Minchinhampton. It was also an important market town for the Cotswolds wool trade and the town centre is dominated by the splendid pillared Market House built in 1655. The town is known as an 'architectural gem' as many of the wool merchants’ houses still look as they did 300 years ago. Tetbury is well known today for its 25 antique shops and its close proximity to Prince Charles’ residence of Highgrove.  Look out for the classy Highgrove Shop in the centre of Tetbury – an ideal place for gifts to impress friends and family!

Towns and a city within one hour

Bath –The original spa was created by the Romans in the  AD 60s, utilising the natural hot springs. It became popular  as a spa town during the Georgian era which led to a major expansion of the city that left a heritage of exemplary Georgian architecture, crafted from Bath Stone. This is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage city which offers visitors a variety of theatres, museums, and other cultural and sporting venues, which have helped to make it a major tourist centre.

Bourton on the Water - The village is known for its picturesque High Street, flanked by long wide greens and the River Windrush that runs through them. The river is crossed by several low, arched stone bridges, leading to the town being called the "Venice of The Cotswolds". This is a tourist ‘honey-pot’ but time your visit carefully and it can be a real delight.

Burford is one of England's prettiest small medieval towns. The town has a broad main High Street lined with old houses, cottages and shop fronts which appear to have changed little for hundreds of years. Take time to explore the side streets and snatch glimpses of hidden treasures through intriguing alleyways and courtyards between the 17th and 18th century buildings. See the awe inspiring splendour of the cathedral-like parish church built from the wealth of the wool trade.

Cheltenham - Cheltenham Spa was specifically designed in its 18th and 19th century heyday as a pleasure and health resort for wealthy visitors. The Regency town houses, characterised by intricate ironwork balconies and painted stucco facades, line the historic Promenade, squares and terraces. Today, the town offers award-winning gardens, an impressive range of stylish shops and restaurants, and festivals of horse racing, music and literature.

Stow in the Wold – This is one of the best known of the small Cotswold towns. It stands exposed on a 700 feet high hill at a junction of seven major roads, including the Roman Fosse Way. At the height of the Cotswold wool industry the town was famous for its huge annual fairs where as many as 20,000 sheep were sold at one time. The vast Market Square testifies to the town’s former importance. Around the square the visitor is faced with an elegant array of Cotswold town houses, and the town has many fine antique shops, art galleries and gift shops.