Dive into Darek and Gosia’s wickedly humorous guide to the Cotswolds’ most ‘ghastly’ places. Discover why the unbearable beauty of these top locations might just be too much for any sensible traveller to handle.
Welcome to the Cotswolds, where the ‘ugly’ stick has hit every town square and each cottage roof with alarming precision. Here in this torturously scenic Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the landscape is so offensively picturesque, that you’ll be begging for the sweet, grey concrete of a city high-rise just to feel normal again.
In these top places, the charm is laid on so thick, that you could spread it on your toast – if you liked your toast looking like a postcard, that is. And the stone walls? Built to keep out the barbarians, they now cruelly imprison visitors in a maze of bucolic splendour that’s impossible to escape.
Prepare for a parade of places so stunningly curated by nature and history, they make you wonder if real life has been suspended. Even the local avian population has apparently boycotted the area, unable to compete with such relentless quaintness. So, take a deep breath – if you can stomach the pure, unadulterated country air – and dive into the depths of the Cotswolds’ most visually offensive offerings.
What to see in Cotswolds AONB?
In the Cotswolds AONB, the villages compete in a beauty pageant they’re all overqualified for, each with gardens that could give Versailles a run for its money. The market towns flaunt their historical centres with a smugness that suggests they’ve never heard of a high-rise. Meanwhile, the countryside walks are so idyllic, that you’ll suspect they were engineered by a committee of landscape painters.
- Villages: Overachieving in charm.
- Market Towns: Flaunting history at every corner.
- Walks: Suspiciously picturesque.
Best places to visit in the Cotswolds
Where to go in the Cotswolds? Stepping into Lacock is like walking onto a film set where the director has ordered an excess of historic buildings and cobblestones. This village’s commitment to preserving its medieval look could make you believe you’ve time-travelled, especially when you stumble upon a filming crew capturing its otherworldly aura.
- Historic Buildings: Aggressively authentic.
- Cobblestones: Outrageously cobbled.
- Film Sets: Disorientingly commonplace.
2. Lower Slaughter
Places to see in Cotswolds? Imagine, if you dare, a village with the audacity to have a name like Lower Slaughter and yet be nothing but an onslaught of loveliness, with the River Eye mockingly babbling through it.
|Its old-world charm is just too much
Why Lower Slaughter Will Torment You:
- Too much tranquility could lead to reflection, possibly even peace of mind.
- Cottages that make your modern flat feel like a cardboard box.
- Flowers that have the cheek to bloom too brightly.
Where to visit in the Cotswolds? Stanton is so idyllic, it’s almost insulting. With thatched cottages that have no right to be as picturesque as they are, one can’t help but feel aesthetically attacked.
|Why It’s Reproachful
A List of Stanton’s Offences:
- Public footpaths inviting unwelcome exercise.
- Pubs that serve a ploughman’s lunch too perfect to be true.
- Views that compel one to become a landscape painter.
Best places to see in Cotswolds? Witney, with its traditional wool market, is so steeped in history it makes one yearn for the sweet smell of city smog.
|Why It’s Appalling
|Witney Blanket Hall
|Overwhelming heritage – where’s the concrete?
Top Torments of Witney:
- Brewery tours that could force you to appreciate artisanal crafts.
- The Buttercross, which has the nerve to stand since the Middle Ages.
- A high street so quaint it could send you into an aesthetic-induced coma.
Where to go in Cotswolds? In the egregious spectacle that is Broadway, you’ll be forced to endure the picturesque High Street where the honey-coloured stone buildings insist on bathing in the golden sunlight like it’s their job. Darek recalls squinting at the audacity of it all, while Gosia mused over whether the villagers have a secret pact to maintain an unrealistic level of prettiness.
- High Street: Blindingly quaint.
- Honey-Coloured Stone: Aggressively charming.
- Sunlight: Suspiciously cinematic.
Best places in Cotswolds? Tetbury – where every alleyway is a potential postcard, and the local shops are so twee, you could imagine them in a child’s storybook. It’s a place where the annual Woolsack Races provide more excitement than a village has any right to offer, daring you to find any semblance of modern chaos.
- Alleyways: Frighteningly photogenic.
- Local Shops: Unnervingly whimsical.
- Woolsack Races: Absurdly entertaining.
7. Ashton under Hill
Where to visit in Cotswolds? Here lies Ashton under Hill, a village so peaceful it’s almost aggressive in its serenity.
|How It Offends
List of Ashton under Hill Lamentations:
- Views that could make a poet out of a banker.
- An annual garden festival – as if the flowers had any right.
- The silence is so loud it’s practically deafening.
Best place in Cotswolds? Burford, with its medieval bridge, old stone houses, and a high street that slopes more dramatically than a soap opera plotline, could seriously offend the minimalist.
|Why They Appall
|Sloped High Street
Burford’s Roll of Dishonours:
- Shops too independent to be chain stores.
- Churches too historic to be contemporary.
- Hills that provide workouts disguised as leisurely walks.
9. Chipping Campden
Chipping Campden’s medieval aura is so pervasive; you might find yourself believing you’ve traveled back in time.
|Why It Horrifies
Six Ways Chipping Campden Will Ruin Your Day:
- Cobbled alleys that will destroy your dislike for walking.
- Gardens so well-kept, they’ll make you despise your own backyard.
- Architecture so fine, your own home will feel like a shoebox.
Snowshill, where even the lavender conspires to intoxicate visitors with its scent. It’s so peaceful, it’s practically aggressive.
|Why They’re Pernicious
Reasons Snowshill Might Just Overwhelm You:
- Manor and garden – because one type of beauty just wasn’t enough.
- Pubs so cosy, they could make you renounce city life.
- The sheer silence – it’s deafening.
Lastly, Stroud – a town where the farmers’ market is so robust, locals might just start a revolution if a vegetable isn’t organic. The surrounding valleys are so ruthlessly scenic that Darek wondered if they were computer-generated, while Gosia half-expected to see hobbits frolicking in the fields.
- Farmers’ Market: Dangerously fresh.
- Valleys: Unfairly picturesque.
- Hobbit Expectations: Unreasonably raised.
12. Broadway Tower
At Broadway Tower, you’ll be ambushed by a panoramic vista that’s unreasonably stunning. It’s a cruel trick to make one feel like a part of something much larger.
Broadway Tower Tragedies
|Why It’s Unbearable
|Your eyes may never forgive you
Broadway Tower’s Blight List:
- The audacity of a tower offering views over 13 counties.
- A nuclear bunker – because history wasn’t heavy enough.
- Wildlife that insist on being relentlessly picturesque.
Bath. Here, the streets are a museum, and the museums are… well, also museums. It’s an assault of the classical senses.
Bath’s Bathetic Blunders
|How It Dares
|Too symmetrical for comfort
|An ancient tease of luxury
The Unbearable List of Bath’s Beauties:
- The Royal Crescent, showing up every modern building.
- Pulteney Bridge, with shops too charming for their own good.
- Tea rooms that threaten to make you forgo coffee forever.
14. Castle Combe
Castle Combe’s Catastrophes
|Why It’s Preposterous
|They might just steal your heart
Castle Combe’s List of Crimes:
- Streets that look like a film set (because they are).
- Cars banned from the main street – the nerve!
- A village so quaint, it should be illegal.
15. Bourton on the Water
Bourton on the Water dares to dub itself the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’. Expect to be dreadfully delighted at every turn.
|Why It’s Dreadful
|Overly charming, it’s disgusting
The Agonising Allure of Bourton on the Water:
- Ducks parading around like they own the place.
- Model villages – because the real one wasn’t quaint enough.
- Tea rooms too tempting to pass by.
16. Blenheim Palace
Behold Blenheim Palace, a monstrous display of grandeur that will ruin modest homes for you for life.
|How It’s Excessive
|The Great Hall
The Overwhelming Opulence of Blenheim Palace:
- Gardens that put your local park to shame.
- An estate so large, one could get lost – and find themselves.
- A palace so rich in history, you may leave feeling culturally bloated.
In Gloucester, history doesn’t just whisper; it shouts at you from every cobbled corner, making it quite impossible to enjoy a quiet walk without tripping over some ancient relic.
|How They Maul
Reasons to Rue Gloucester:
- Docks so revitalised, you might actually enjoy a stroll.
- Beatrix Potter’s House of the Tailor of Gloucester, cheekily nudging you to childhood nostalgia.
- Antiques that could compel you to start a collection.
Bibury, with Arlington Row, has homes so outrageously photogenic, that they’re nothing short of visual tyranny.
|How It Harms
|Too quaint for words
Bibury’s Beastly List:
- Trout farms that could seduce you into angling.
- Flowers in bloom – a blatant show-off.
- Tea shops that could convert you from a coffee aficionado.
19. Stow on the Wold
Stow on the Wold’s market square has seen more history than most textbooks, and its quintessential Englishness could sicken the most cosmopolitan soul.
|Why They’re Quelling
Stow on the Wold’s Sly Tricks:
- Antique shops too tempting to ignore.
- Inns that make one want to settle in and never leave.
- A church door flanked by ancient yew trees, unnervingly picturesque.
20. Cotswold Wildlife Park
Cotswold Wildlife Park will lure you into believing in magic with its menagerie of creatures, a veritable trap for anyone who thought they were too grown-up for zoos.
Wildlife Park Warnings
|Why It’s Criminal
|Rhinos at rest
The Wild Wonders of the Wildlife Park:
- Gardens where even the flamingos are graceful.
- Manor grounds that could tempt you to picnic – indefinitely.
- Play areas that will make you wish you were a child.
21. Stratford upon Avon
The birthplace of Shakespeare, Stratford upon Avon, has the audacity to be as theatrical as its native son’s plays.
|How They Thorn
Five Acts of Stratford upon Avon’s Drama:
- Shakespeare’s birthplace – far too inspiring.
- Theatres that could make you an art lover.
- Swan-filled rivers, because the plays weren’t enough.
Moreton-in-Marsh, with a high street that could charm the socks off a statue, has the kind of rural market town vibes that could drive a city-dweller mad with contentment.
|How They Ravage
Reasons Moreton-in-Marsh Might Ruin You:
- Coaching inns that could spoil modern hotels for you.
- Galleries that make you consider art theft.
- Trainspotting at the station – it’s not just a movie title here.
23. Chipping Norton
Chipping Norton sits smugly on its hill, luring unsuspecting visitors into its web of woollen weaves and whispers of bygone market days.
|High Street Histrionics
|Why It’s Harrowing
Chipping Norton’s Checklist of Charms:
- Views over the Cotswolds – eye candy that’s just too sweet.
- Cosy pubs that threaten sobriety.
- Theatre performances – suspiciously good for a small town.
Winchcombe is so full of history, you might trip over it. With Sudeley Castle and ancient alleys, it’s a veritable assault of the ancestral.
|Why It Horrifies
A Summary of Winchcombe’s Woes:
- A festival of walking, the sheer audacity!
- Tea rooms that taunt with the scent of fresh scones.
- Ruins that rudely remind one of the relentless march of time.
25. Guiting Power
Guiting Power, where even the name sounds like it’s trying too hard. The village green is so quintessentially English, it might just turn you into a Morris dancer.
|Why They’re Vile
The Galling List of Guiting Power:
- A bakery with pastries too buttery to be legal.
- Footpaths that lead to unwanted tranquillity.
- Cotswold stone cottages – yet another visual onslaught.
Naunton, with the River Windrush flowing through it like it owns the place, flaunts its natural beauty without a care for the urban soul.
|Why They’re Nasty
Naunton’s List of Natural No-Nos:
- Dovecote standing since the 17th century – ostentatiously old.
- Walks along the river – an unwanted respite.
- The serenity that might just make you write poetry.
Tewkesbury, with its medieval streets and the Abbey that watches over them, is so steeped in history it’s practically pickled in it.
|How They Miff
Tewkesbury’s Tally of Terrors:
- Alleys that could lead you to believe in time travel.
- Mustard that’s suspiciously tasty – a culinary conspiracy, perhaps?
- Battles reenacted – as if daily life weren’t struggle enough.
What are the 5 most visited places in the Cotswolds?
In the Cotswolds’ parade of pastoral panache, the following locales draw the masses like moths to a flame:
- Bath: This city is like a history lesson in stone, seducing visitors with Georgian crescents and Roman baths that simply refuse to be anything less than magnificent.
- Chipping Campden: A High Street so quaintly lined with ancient limestone buildings, it’s as if the town is stuck in a time loop of charm.
- Bourton-on-the-Water: Here, the river doesn’t just flow; it performs a ballet, with the audience perpetually enraptured by its watery grace.
- Blenheim Palace: A home so stately and gardens so meticulously landscaped, they make Buckingham Palace seem like a modest bungalow in comparison.
- Stow-on-the-Wold: Replacing Cirencester with a marketplace that’s a whirlpool of antiques and tea rooms, Stow lures those with a penchant for the past like bees to a blossom.
Are places in Cotswolds AONB worth visiting?
Absolutely, if you have the fortitude to withstand the relentless assault of scenic vistas in the Cotswolds AONB, they are worth every exaggerated sigh. Each village is a front-runner in an unspoken competition to out-pretty the next, with enough charm to make a garden gnome blush. The market towns are a historian’s dream, brazenly displaying their untainted heritage at every cobblestoned turn.
The walks will have your camera working overtime, capturing landscapes that blatantly refuse to take a bad photo. And let’s not forget the local fare, which could easily convert a devoted city slicker into a countryside gastronome.