Think of the Cotswolds and images of honey-coloured cottages in picture-perfect villages backdropped by rolling countryside will spring to mind. However, if you know where to look, there are plenty of unusual things to see and do in the Cotswolds. Read on to discover our top picks, whether you want to get hands-on and participate, or prefer to be a spectator.
When it comes to seeking out seasonal, local produce to enjoy on your luxury cottage holiday in the Cotswolds, it doesn’t come much fresher than when you forage for it yourself. So why not have a go?
Join Burleigh Court Hotel’s fantastic wild foraging walk with an experienced forager who will teach you how to identify, pick and taste an array of leaves, berries and more.
Courses are held on specific dates throughout the year and offer an insight into the nutritional and medicinal benefits of plants, as well as lots of foraging tips and recipe ideas.
The experience also includes a suitably foraged lunch for you to enjoy – delicious. If you’re tempted by this activity, Castle Cottage is a great place to stay.
The Pudding Club, held at Three Ways Hotel in Chipping Campden, has been delighting those with a sweet tooth since 1985. Held on Friday evenings, Pudding Club is informal and entertaining.
You’ll be greeted with a welcome drink and seated with your fellow diners, while you listen to an introduction about the evening from the Pudding Master. After a light main course, the fun really begins.
You’ll work your way through tasting the ‘Parade of Seven Traditional British Puddings’ which includes sticky toffee pudding and syrup sponge, but in June, July and August some are substituted with summer puddings such as Eton mess.
There’s a real sense of ceremony throughout and you’ll get to vote for your favourite, with the winner revealed over coffee.
Staying with the food theme, well kind of, the annual Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling competition attracts a very large crowd who come to see all the drama of this unusual spectacle unfold.
The event begins when a fabulous 8lb Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down the steep incline of Cooper’s Hill which is part of a beautiful, and usually serene, nature reserve in Gloucester.
It’s not long before the cheese spins well ahead of the dare-devil competitors who are hot on its heels. However, the hill is so steep that competitors rarely manage to stay on their feet and end up rolling down much of the slope themselves. The first one at the bottom of the hill wins the much-coveted double Gloucester.
In 2022, the event is scheduled to take place on Monday 30th May.
If you love birds and have a soft spot for owls in particular, the Cotswolds Falconry Centre in Moreton-in-Marsh offers a wonderful Owl Experience. During the 1-hour long session you’ll have the privilege of getting up close to several different owls and find out a bit more about each species.
There’s also the opportunity to feel the joy of one of the owls flying to you and landing on your gloved hand, all under the supervision of a trained handler. It’s a magical experience for anyone who loves owls and makes a special memory that will last forever.
We suggest arriving a bit early to say ‘hello’ to some of the other birds at the centre first.
If you find fine fragrances hard to resist, make your luxury cottage holiday in the Cotswolds the time to learn how to create your own.
The Cotswold Perfumery in Bourton-on-the-Water offers a beginners’ perfume-making course that covers a basic introduction to the art of perfumery, from the science of smells to the practical skills of how to make a perfume.
Held in a specialist lab and led by the chief perfumer, much of the course is spent experimenting with different ingredients and combining them into a perfectly balanced bottle of your own unique scent to take home.
It’s a great day if you’re interested in producing perfume, or for a special bonding experience with friends, and Bay Tree Cottage is the ideal place to stay.
Like to be spooked a little? Join Bill Spectre, a trained actor, for a ghost tour around the quaint streets of Burford. It’s designed to be an entertaining evening of tales about the town’s darker side and you’ll learn a lot about the fascinating local history too.
You can’t fail to have fun as Bill, who will be dressed in historic costume, brings the town’s infamous characters from the past to life through a variety of jokes, props and tricks.
This is a great activity for groups of friends and families, especially if you book a private tour – it makes a great birthday surprise for someone special.
There’s something about throwing an axe that’s both a little bit nerve-racking and very satisfying.
If you’re wondering what it feels like, head to the Farncombe Estate in Broadway that offers an axe-throwing experience where, under the expert eye of an activity leader, you’ll learn how to sling an array of axes and knives.
It’s a superb activity to do with friends, cheering each other on as you try to hit your target. Set in 400 acres of Cotswold countryside, Farncombe Estate is a beautiful setting for this exhilarating adventure, but if you’re not convinced by axe-throwing there are other activities to try including clay pigeon shooting and archery.
What is wassailing, we hear you ask? It’s an Anglo-Saxon term relating to drinking to good health. Traditionally, a wassail bowl would be taken around the local village and into pubs, whilst songs were sung, all in the spirit of wishing everyone a prosperous new year.
In Stroud, the tradition has been revived and the Stroud Wassail takes place every year on one day around late December/early January.
It promises music, dance and fun with a host of entertainment from wassailers, mummers and street performers who bring the art of wassailing to the streets. If you’re in the area, it’s certainly worth stopping by.
Did you know that the Cotswolds has its very own Olympic games? Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick Games as they are called have taken place for over 400 years at Dover’s Hill near Chipping Campden. A host of unusual sports events are included in the programme including Tug O’ War, Shin-kicking, running races and ‘King of The Hill’.
The latter involves competing in four events: Static Jump (jumping as far as possible from a standing position), Spurning the Barre (similar to tossing the caber), Hammer Throw and Putting the Shot.
Amateur sports enthusiasts can register to take part if they feel like they have what it takes and spectators love to watch them compete.
In 2022, the event is scheduled to take place on Friday 3rd June.
Every August Bank Holiday Monday, the popular village of Bourton-on-the-Water hosts a football match with a difference. The ‘pitch’ is the River Windrush which is a relatively shallow brook that flows through the village, teams consist of six players and each half lasts just 15 minutes.
The tradition has been upheld for over 70 years and attracts a number of local teams, as well as plenty of visitors. There’s a real sense of fun as the players kick the ball in water that can be up to their knees in an attempt to score a goal between posts positioned under the bridges.
After all the cheering and inevitable laughs, the event concludes with a fete on the village green.
In 2022, the event is scheduled to take place on Monday 29th August.