Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Guide To The Beautiful Cotswold Region Of The UK

The Cotswolds, an area in the South West of the UK, is widely acknowledged by both people in the UK, and elsewhere, to be one of the most scenic and beautiful parts of the UK. The rolling hills, windey lanes, and picturesque villages, are truly jewels in the UK’s crown. Despite being very scenic, the area is also very historic, with churches going back to the 8th Century.

The Cotswolds - "One of the most scenic and beautiful parts of the UK"
The Cotswolds, as an area, are named after the area of hills that stretch across the west of England. The area that is covered by the hills is 25 miles across and 90 miles long. When people think of The Cotswolds, they usually think of Gloucestershire, and indeed this is the county that has the greatest coverage in the Cotswolds area. But the area also covers a few other counties at the edges, including Oxfordshire and Wiltshire.

The Gateway and Capital of the Cotswolds is usually considered to be Cirencester. This pretty town has a population of 19,000, and is famous its Roman heritage – it was known in Roman times as Corinium, and was the second town in Roman Britain, after Londinium (London), and was the major Roman Administration town for South West England.  Cirencester contains one of the largest Agricultural colleges in the West; it welcomes students from all around the world, from as far as China and the US.

One great attraction to visit in Cirencester is the Corinium Museum, which hosts one of the finest collection of Roman artefacts anywhere in England. The museum contains stunning complete mosaics taken from Roman Villa excavations locally. The museum is also great for kids – it offers the opportunity to really explore what life was like for a Roman citizen in Britain, plus offers the opportunity to dress up as a Roman soldier, sword, helmet and all! Entry prices are pretty reasonable - £4.80 for adults, £2.40 for children. There are discounts available for senior citizens, families and students. There is also a lovely shop at the museum selling a wide range of books, souvenirs, and Roman inspired gifts, including plastic swords for the kids!

The museum is also the home of Cirencester’s visitor information centre, who advise on local accommodation, local transport info, local attraction info, and also sell maps and guidebooks.

Being a Roman town , Cirencester also has an Roman amphitheatre, which is great to visit, especially in the winter, when it is covered in snow and you can sledge down the sides! It remains one of the largest Roman Amphitheatres in Britain, and was built in the early second century. The amphitheatre would have been used for plays and productions, and possibly even gladiator battles. It was later the scene of the battle of Cirencester, between the Mercian King Penda, and the West Saxon Kings Cynegils and Cwichelm in 628.

Cirencester has great transport links to the rest of the Midlands and The South West, with connecting roads to Swindon, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Bristol, Bath, Wantage, Chippenham and Stroud. There is also the train station at Kemble (just outside Cirencester), which offers good access to London and the rest of the country. The nearest airports are at Bristol, Kemble, London Heathrow, and Birmingham.

So you can see that Cirencester is a great place to visit in itself, but is also a good base to explore the rest of the South West.

Steppes Travel specialise in luxury and tailor made holidays to many locations all over the world. They offer the best in travel to South America, Africa and Europe.

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