If I had to pick a favourite trail, the north trail would be it. As you travel north across the Cotswolds you will notice the local limestone used in the regions architecture changes from a lighter creamy colour to a darker orange-honey hue.
Chipping Campden is one of the best examples of this, making it hard to find the words to describe it on a clear afternoon when the sunshine warms the buildings
around you. From there, the trail takes you to Broadway Tower, a distinguished looking folly positioned with great majesty atop the Cotswold escarpment offering memorable views.
The trail then cuts through the splendid Cotswold
countryside. You have to find the amazing 'hidden village' using the clues and tools in your trail pack before progressing to Winchcombe. Winchcombes' history is ancient with Sudeley Castle close by, as well as Belas Knap, a Stone Age monument.
The drive down the valley after a walk to Belas Knap is fantastic with rolling wavy hills carrying on for miles. If you pay attention you will see the land steadily rise and fall, marking the river catchment boundary and source of the river Coln, a major feature weaving its way through many beautiful Cotswold villages on the south trail.
The River Coln is your 'growing' friend for many miles before reaching a more major road providing quick access east
towards Northleach. There are some crafty clues to figure out here uncovering interesting ancient and modern history.
The main road will take you further on to Burford in the county of Oxfordshire. As you turn left into the town the view opens up from the top of the hill, bringing with it an instant sense of history as the wide street sweeps down, flanked by medieval buildings dressed in modern but tasteful shop signs employed by todays stewards of this bustling old Cotswold town.
From Burford the north trail directs you through open country and secluded hamlets until you reach Bourton-on-the-Water, famous amongst Cotswold towns for its bridges crossing the River Windrush running through the heart of the town.
From there you travel through delicious Cotswold countryside including a drive through The Slaughters and on to Stow-on-the-Wold. Stow is great, a small but busy town full of rich and interesting history, which our clues will encourage you to discover a little more about.
Roman Britain is a big part of the south trail with a visit to both the Roman amphitheatre near Cirencester and a Roman villa near Chedworth.
Cirencester was originally a Roman settlement called Corinium. A military fort was first built there in AD49 to help defend the then north-western frontier of the Roman empire. From there the trail moves east to Bibury, a gorgeous Cotswold village resting on the River Coln.
Then follow the river through a series of idyllic Cotswold villages along the Coln valley, cross the Fosseway Roman road, before reaching Chedworth. The trail then continues west, meandering through rolling hills to Painswick Beacon and Painswick village. The charming walk to the top of the Beacon offers incredible 360 degree views which you don't want to miss, then the short drive to Painswick, the Queen of the Cotswolds, gives you the chance to visit and explore one of the most interesting and stunning places in the Cotswolds.
After Painswick you drive south to Minchinhampton cutting through the famous and beautiful common grasslands. Watch out for the cows freely roaming around and for flying golf balls. Yes you read correctly. Public roads cut through this common land which is also partly a golf course with herds of cows openly strolling around. Sounds crazy but somehow it works....
Badminton is the next destination, home of the famous horse trials and yes the location for the invention of the racket sport. It's really interesting to look around here and very beautiful with all the thatch cottages.
The trail then heads north, firstly to Sherston, the location of a battle against Cnut the Great in 1016, a time not long after the Kingdom of England was first formed
but at that time under control of the Danish throne.
Further north again is Tetbury a prospering Cotswold town since the Middle Ages, like many, based on the wool trade. In many places you visit you will notice a 'Sheep Street' in honour of this. The breed of sheep in the Cotswolds now making a return is called the 'Cotswold Lion', thought to have been first introduced by the Romans.
Beyond Tetbury you are heading back to Cirencester. Along this stretch of road is the opportunity to find the source of the River Thames. The river rises not far from a pub called the Thames Head. A short walk across some fields brings you to the source of the river that helps define London. If you're visiting from abroad no doubt London is part of your plans, making a visit to the source of the Thames could potentially be an interesting part of your trip.
Both trails are available with our trail packs.