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The village of Bibury features Cotswold stone cottages

The Cotswolds is a range of hills in central England, sometimes called the "Heart of England", a hilly area reaching over 300 m. The area has been designated as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The highest point in the Cotswolds is Cleeve Hill at 330 m (1083 ft).

The Cotswolds lie within the current ceremonial counties of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire. The county of Gloucestershire forms the largest area of the Cotswolds.


The spine of the Cotswolds runs southwest to northeast through six counties, particularly Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, and southern Warwickshire. The northern and western edges of the Cotswolds are marked by steep slopes down to the Severn valley and the Avon. These are a result of the broken edge of the limestone layer. On the eastern boundary is the city of Oxford and on the west is Stroud. To the south towns as Cirencester, Lechlade, Tetbury, Beverston and Fairford mark the southern limit of this region.

The area is characterised by attractive small towns and villages built of Cotswold stone (a yellow limestone). This limestone is rich in fossils. In the Middle Ages, the wool trade made the Cotswolds prosperous. Some of this money was put into the building of churches so the area has a number of large, handsome Cotswold stone "wool churches". The area remains rich and has attracted rich people who own second homes in the area or have chosen to retire to the Cotswolds.

Typical Cotswold towns are Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway, Burford, Chipping Norton, Cirencester, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold and Winchcombe. The town of Chipping Campden is famous as the home of the Arts and Crafts movement, that was founded by William Morris at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.

The Cotswold Way is a long-distance footpath (approx 103 miles (166 km)) running the length of the AONB, mainly on the edge of the Cotswold escarpement with good views over the Severn Valley and the Vale of Evesham.

Historical structures

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