As tour guides, we often get asked 'When is the best time to visit the Cotswolds?'. This isn't as easy to answer as you might imagine. Every season has its virtues, the Cotswolds is beautiful all year round! I appreciate that's maybe sounds a bit flippant, so below I will try my best to explain why!
Cotswolds in Spring
Spring is a beautiful season, the weather starts to get milder & you see the first hits of new life blossom. From snowdrops in the hedgerows to lambs in the fields. It is one of my favourite seasons. The villages are still quiet, so you can wander through these beautiful locations but do remember to pack layers. You can have beautiful warm days but equally as likely to have some flurries of snow! It you are here in the Spring & want to see a beautiful display of snowdrops then do visit the Rocco Gardens in Painswick, set in 6 acres they have a truly magical display. It is a wonderful season, as the villages seem to awaken after their winter slumber & locals are happy to be out & about again.
Cotswolds in Summer
Unsurprisingly early summer (May) through to the end of September are the busiest months in the Cotswolds. With a lull in August, when locals seem to decamp off to warmer shores. The best time to see roses would be mid June, then you have the glorious lavender fields just outside Snowshill village in July, followed by a last hurrah of roses in September. Weekends are naturally busier, along with the school summer break from the second week of July to the first week of September. However this is the time to visit if you want to avoid the rain, although let's face it...it can rain at anytime in the UK! Look out for local newspapers when you visit, like the Cotswolds Journal, or the free local magazines in the Churches who will list the village fetes. It is wonderful to see the communities come together & of course this year we have the added bonus of the Queen's Jubilee. So celebrations galore on offer if you visit in the summer months. Why not include a stop in one of the famous Cotswolds gardens, like Hidcote Manor. Hidcote is said to be one of the finest gardens designed in the 20 Century, the brainchild of Major Lawrence Johnson in the 'Arts & Crafts' style.
Cotswolds in Autumn
This is another of my favourite months, it is so difficult to choose just one! I absolutely love the colours that seem to pop in the autumn. The golden leaves, burnt reds & oranges, truly complement the yellow hues of the Cotswold stone properties. On chiller evenings you can light the fire and snuggle in after a fabulous day exploring with a warm toddy. The Cotswolds seems to breathe a little easier & there are fewer visitors so you can find a quiet spot in even the more popular locations. Autumn seems to be a time when you can soak up a little warmth from the sun & fill the day with adventures without the crowds. The best place for autumn colour would be Batsford Arboretum, wander through 56 acres of the largest private collection of trees in Britain. The Cotswolds is perfect for a weekend getaway at this time of year or to tackle a good walk before the winter frosts start to appear.
Cotswolds in Winter
If you are a lover of a good roaring log fire then this is the season for you! In the run up to Christmas you have the villages & market towns decorated for the season. If you are near Stow on the Wold then do check out St Edwards Church to see the Christmas tree competition. Where local businesses & charities decorate a tree, it is not unusual to have upwards of 30 trees to marvel at & get inspiration from. Providing you wrap up warm then you can enjoy plenty of time exploring the local area. Do not miss the Christmas tree in the Windrush river in Bourton on the Water. There is something very refreshing in a good stomp through the fields after a good frost. It is certainly the quietest time to visit. Who knows you may even be able to build a snowman on the local village green!
When to visit? Well it is always the right time to visit the Cotswolds, hmmmm with perhaps the exception of one weekend.....August Bank Holiday! We actually close over the August Bank Holiday, because we feel it's not fair to our guests. If you think of all the reasons why you want to come to the Cotswolds, the beautiful scenery, quaint cottages, charming villages unspoilt by the passing of time. Or perhaps you want to escape the crowds in the big city. Mayhem descends over the August Bank Holiday weekend, it's as though half the UK population within a 2 hour drive of the Cotswolds decides that it the place they want to visit for a nice family picnic. Then.... yikes the quiet little villages are filled with frustrated drivers honking their horns for a parking space. In Bourton on the the Water by 10am you can't see a blade of grass along the river! So our advice, the Cotswolds is beautiful all year round, you will be greeted with beautiful properties, stunning villages where you can imagine Miss Marple or Agatha Raisin peering through a net curtain. You will find friendly locals with some villages that have more horse traffic than vehicles, dusty country lanes & wonderful cafe's, independent shops & pubs. If you can avoid it, try not to visit over August Bank Holiday weekend. If that is your only free dates, then head to one of the smaller villages & avoid the honey pot locations!
Lucy & Richard are locals who provide award winning tours of the Cotswolds. Go Cotswolds exploring with them & you will be treated to fun facts, hidden gems and lots of free time to wander in the very best locations. Cotswolds Guided Tours was established in 2017 & has grown from strength to strength. After two years of struggling through the pandemic we are now happy to 'open our doors' (on the minibus) and welcome back guests on our mixed group or private Cotswold tours.
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