16 Muddy approved attractions in Glos
From the big-beast tourist destinations to our cool insider alternatives, read on for our pick of 16 unmissable attractions in Gloucestershire.
Headliner: The Roman Villa, Chedworth
Roman history oozes out of the pores of the Cotswolds and there’s hours of Roman-themed fun to be had at The Roman Villa in Chedworth (the grandest in Britain no less). Follow seasonal trails, dress up as a Roman or get creative with crafts, seeing how they generally hung out here in the 4th century. There’s a café, serving sandwiches, cakes and snacks and a great shop selling all the Roman memorabilia you could want.
Hidden away on the edge of Cirencester, up an unassuming suburban street lies one of the most extraordinary natural sites in the Cotswolds – the remains of one of the largest Roman amphitheatres in Britain. Built in the 2nd century, Roman Corinium (now Ciren) was second only to London, these days it’s an incredible spot to enjoy a picnic and watch the kids or dogs roll down the slide-like hills with abandon. And repeat.
Finish off the day with a trip to the ever-brilliant Corinium Museum in the heart of Cirencester, brilliantly interactive and ‘bite-sized’ for a museum it has one of the largest collections of Romano-British artefacts in the UK.
Headliner: Westonbirt Arboretum
OK, so you’re pretty spoilt for choice in the Cotswolds for nature, let’s face it, step outside your front door and you stumble head first into rolling hills and valleys. But if you love the great outdoors Westonbirt Arboretum is an absolute must-see.
With one of the most important tree collections in the world there are over 2,500 species to gaze at. You can walk for hours here in total peace and quiet (erm, bliss), or choose a shorter loop that suits you. There are regular activities such as twig print making, den skills and nature trails but it’s crowning glory is the brand new Arboretum Skywalk. This soaring 300 metre long walkway takes you into the canopy of the trees 13 metres up. Dogs are welcome too.
Under-the-radar: Puzzlewood, The Forest of Dean
Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean adds a whole new dimension to a day out in nature – recognise it? That’s because this incredible ancient woodland has been the backdrop to scenes from Star Wars: The force Awakens, The Secret Garden, Merlin, The Hunstman, Jack the Giant Slayer and many more.
Located in the beautiful Forest of Dean, which is a fantastic place to explore, it’s an enchanting, other-worldly wood with a Jurassic treescape you won’t see anywhere else.
Explore over a mile and a half of mossy walkways, woodland paths, bridges and lookout points and kids will love the Puzzlewood app which lets them tick of 20 items along the way.
Headliner: Cowley Manor
This spa has one of the BEST pool views we’ve ever had the pleasure to gaze out of. Cowley Manor is a super-luxe country house retreat just outside of Cheltenham. Step into its C-Side spa for some A-list pampering, as well as a stunning post-modern indoor heated pool there’s a heated outdoor pool with loads of space for lounging.
This spa won the Conde Nast Best Spa in a UK Hotel Award and you’ll see why if you book in for one of their treatments, we really rate the Hot Stone Massage and Detox Wrap. Or book in for one of their Sunset Packages, just £85 for a 30-minute treatment, use of all spa facilities and a two-course dinner at the hotel’s Terrace Restaurant.
Under-the-radar: Float in the Forest
Thank us later for finding you the ultimate stress-buster, right here in Glos. Float in the Forest is a floatation relaxation therapy where you float effortlessly on the surface of warm water, 25cm deep, saturated with Epsom salt in a space-like pod. We guess it’s a bit like being a cork on the Dead Sea!
Feel 999 days of lockdown stress evaporate and your mind drift away out in one of these giant bathtubs. This gorgeous experience can be found in the Forest of Dean, and we challenge you not to fall asleep (don’t worry someone will come and wake you up). A blissful way to spend an afternoon.
Headliner: Cotswold Farm Park
This award-winning farm park is owned by well-known TV farmer Adam Henson and should be pinned top of the list for any family day out.
Packed with animals, rare breeds, fun rides and activities like mini tractor rides and giant bouncy pillows, you’ll not be bored for a second here.
There are daily talks from the animal keepers and kids love the Adventure Barn, Dolly’s Den soft play area and Farm Safari rides. Find it just outside of Cheltenham in Guiting Power.
Under-the-radar: Alpaca Trekking
Get up close and personal with these gentle and inquisitive creatures on a quirky Alpaca Trekking Experience with Tibbiwell Alpacas in Painswick.
You’ll meet the herd – Dumbledore, Apollo, Pablo and Stanley, get to know them then head out with them on leads to explore the pretty streets of this famous town known as the Queen of the Cotswolds. What could be more fun? A fabulously quirky experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
ACTION & ADRENALIN
Headliner: Clearwell Caves
There’s a hidden labyrinth of caves below the Forest of Dean and you can explore them all. Clearwell Caves are incredible ancient iron ore natural cave system where explorers can head 100 ft below ground.
See nine magical caverns which have been mined for over 4,500 year, there’s also a gift shop, cafe and play area too. This fabulous underworld is located near the Forest of Dean, a mile from Coleford, and the extra adventurous can book in for Deep Level Caving. This thriller of an experience takes you deep under the ancient Forest into 250 acres of passageways and caverns. Walk, slither or crawl your way down to 200ft underground (gulp). Equipment is supplied and groups have expert guides.
Under-the-radar: RotorPro Helicopter Experience
Do the Cotswolds differently to everyone else, from a spectacular birds-eye view. Muddy loves this idea, take a personalised helicopter ride over your favourite places with local company RotorPro, based near Gloucester at Staverton Airport. These thrilling rides are a completely bespoke service – you choose the flight length, places to visit, and choice of chopper – then you’re whisked off by expert pilot Ian Lowe.
The choppers are also able to land at certain spots around the county, so why not fly in to Cheltenham Racecourse or a handpicked hotel for afternoon eat? Why should the Kardashians have all the fun we say.
Headliner: Sudeley Castle
Cheltenham’s got a castle you say? It certainly has! Five miles out of town is Sudeley Castle, a stunning 1,000 year old spread, surrounded by 360 degree views of the Cotswold hills. The only private castle in England to have a queen buried in the grounds (Katherine Parr) there are 10 magnificent gardens to explore and workshops to get stuck into (plus the Spectacle of Light trail at Christmas is one of the coolest in the Cotswolds). Let the kids go wild at the adventure playground complete with wooden castle and zip wire or have a picnic in the grounds.
Under-the-radar: Highgrove Royal Gardens
Many people don’t realise TRHs’ Highgrove home is tucked away outside of Tetbury. Have a wander around this lovely market town brimming with antique shops then pop into Charlie’s estate for a cuppa. A whole 38 years in the making, it’s fully organic and sustainable. Make a beeline for the stunning wildflower meadow, scented Carpet Garden (below) and geometrically-shaped Thyme Walk.
Plus, you can also book a personal guided tour (maybe not with HRH but hey …) when ‘normal’ service resumes in 2021 (check ahead). Finish off with a delicious cream tea in the Orchard tea Room, why not.
Headliner: Cotswold Country Park and Beach
Bring your bucket and spade to The Cotswold Water Park and Beach near South Cerney in Glos, it’s the UK’s largest inland paddling beach with picnic areas and some of the best water sport facilities around. There are BBQs by the shore, electric boats and pedalos and an adventure playground for kids. Or try out the brilliant Aquaventure inflatable obstacle course on the neighbouring lake.
Under-the-radar: The Wave
Who says you need the sea to surf? Not Muddy. Tucked away in the south Gloucestershire countryside is the first inland surfing destination of its kind in the Northern hemisphere – The Wave.
A 600ft wide, state-of-the-art WaveGarden containing 26 million litres of water, churning out 10 perfect surfing peaks per minute. Book in for a surf lesson, it’s brilliant fun, all equipment is provided. We also love the Terrace cafe here which serves up stand-out freshly cooked food, dine with stunning views over the waves.
Headliner: The Ivy Montpellier Cheltenham
If you want your food served up with lashings of ocean-liner glamour then the super-chic Ivy in Cheltenham’s trendy Montpellier district is the place to book. It’s known for its 5-star food (Tracy Emin raves about the legendary Shepherd’s Pies) and we are madly in love with the Virgin Peach Bellinis and Melting Choclate Bombe desserts. Food is a theatrical thriller here, with the kind of impeccable service more like a luxe central London eatery.
One of Muddy’s favourite foodie haunts head here for all-day dining, in a fabulous art deco cocktail of grand interiors and a relaxed vibe.
Under-the-radar: Five Valleys Street Food Market
The hottest foodie haunt in Glos can be found at the brilliant Five Valleys in Stroud. A £25m revamp has created a street food market to rival London’s Borough Market and it should be top of your must-visit list.
It’s a global smorgasbord of moorish street food, from the Artisan Baker (above) to the Italian delights of Non Solo Pasta which has a new sit-up pasta bar. And opening from 14 April is the stupendous and swanky Sandersons Boutique Department Store, where you can get your fix of designer clothes, bags, accessories and homewares. Swoon! Already famed for its weekly Farmers Market, Stroud was recently named ‘Best Place to Live in Glos’ by Muddy Stilettos AND crowned ‘Sunday Times Best Place to Live 2021’ in the whole of the UK. Beat that!