Ahhhhh Gloucestershire, steeped in history and full of natural beauty, has many fabulous tourist attractions. In a county popular with visitors from the length and breadth of Britain, as well as visitors from abroad, there is so much for the locals to visit too. So where do we take our family and friends when they come to stay? The choice is huge, so I’ve narrowed it down to a selection of ten great places to visit.
First let’s head for history, with a visit to Sudeley Castle near Winchcombe in the North Cotswolds. Sudeley is famous for a number of Royal reasons, and was once the home of Queen Katherine Parr, Henry VIII ‘s last wife. With exhibitions to see, and beautiful grounds to explore, Sudeley is definitely worth a trip.
Back firmly in the present, Slimbridge Wetland Centre, hailed as ‘the birthplace of modern conservation’, is the place to go to see wildlife. Whilst famous largely for its collection of swans, geese and ducks, there is a year-round programme of walks, arts, events, workshops and talks – something for everyone.
Another famous attraction is the National Waterways Museum. Set in the heart of the historic Gloucester Docks, the museum is packed with family-friendly galleries and exhibitions which give a window into life on Britain’s inland waterways.
Whilst we’re in the centre of Gloucester, let’s take a look at the magnificent Cathedral, consecrated over 900 years ago. It is an outstanding example of English cathedral design, and is also famous as the burial place of King Edward II.
Now it’s off into the countryside to one of the most spectacular tree gardens in the world, with over 3,000 different trees and shrub species – Westonbirt Arboretum. A host of events and things to do, from concerts to craft workshops, makes this much more than a beautiful place to explore – although it certainly is just that.
Underground exploration is the next on my list. At Clearwell Caves, near Coleford in the Forest of Dean, as well as an extensive natural cave system, one can experience some of Britain’s oldest underground mine workings. There are nine impressive caverns to explore, as well as deep level caving opportunities for the more adventurous!
Back on the surface, the Painswick Rococo Garden is a gem of a garden, originally laid out in the early 18th Century and recently restored. It’s particularly famous for its snowdrop display, but there is something to see virtually all year round.
The National Trust is a great source of inspiration when it comes to trips out. I’ve just chosen one of the many attractions in Gloucestershire that the Trust manages. The remains of one of the largest Roman Villas in Britain can be found at Yanworth near Cheltenham. At Chedworth Roman Villa some of the fascinating Roman remains include mosaics, bathhouses and hypocausts.
And now for something completely different: the 1:9 scale replica of the village of Bourton-on-the-Water is situated in the garden of Bourton’s Old New Inn. Complete with houses, Church and shops, all built in the warm Cotswold stone of the original, the model village is a masterpiece of craftsmanship.
It’s always nice to round things off with some music, so number 10 on my list is Keith Harding’s World of Mechanical Music in Northleach. The museum houses an amazing variety of self-playing instruments, and visitors can hear many of them in action.
That’s the end of my list and – you’ve guessed it – there’s so much to see in Gloucestershire that even my selection of ten would take a lot of trips out to complete. But then, you’ve got to start somewhere…