There is more to England than the bright city lights, museums, shopping, and tourist areas of London. When you travel in any direction away from London, you will find yourself easily in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). England has one of the largest Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty of the United Kingdom located in the Cotswolds and covered in gentle rolling hills, beautiful hiking areas, breathtaking viewpoints, and charming quintessentially English villages and market towns.
The Cotswolds are perfect for hillwalking, cycling, backpacking, exploring, and even simple, low-key staycations with their dog-friendly eateries, dog-friendly hotels, and dog-friendly rentals. It’s a perfect area for you and your family to visit for a weekend getaway or even a last minute day trip.
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The Cotswolds were deemed an AONB since 1966, making it the largest AONB in England. England designated AONBs to 18% of the country to provide it with a status where nature is strictly conserved. The Cotswolds AONB runs from Chippen Camden (north) down to Bath (south) and covers an area of 790 sq. miles (2,038 sq. km).
Besides the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there are so many unique places to visit in the Cotswolds with its picturesque viewpoints, beautiful hikes, adorable English towns, lavender farms, and more.
When To Go
The Cotswolds are beautiful all year round. When there's a dusting of snow, it looks like a page out of a fairytale. Visiting in the summer or early fall (June through September) is the most ideal with the sunny weather and all of the flowers and foliage in full bloom, which brings so much color and vibrancy to the rolling hills and picturesque English towns.
Plan ahead and try to go when it's not raining your entire stay. But even if there are bouts of showers, there is bound to be sunshine breaking through in between. Personally, my trip was during the rainy end of summer (end of August) and it rained about half of the time, but there were bursts of sun here and there.
What to Bring
Waterproof Hiking Boots - You can find terrain that is moderately difficult to hike as well as easy hikes. Irregardless, if there is a chance of rain, be prepared with waterproof hiking boos so there is no slipping and sliding in the muddy trails while hillwalking.
Raincoat - Since it is England, there is always a chance of rain. Be sure to pack a raincoat wherever you go so you never have to slow down by hiding away indoors to wait for the rain to stop.
How to Get There
Take the Great Western Railway (GWR) from the Paddington Station to Moreton-in-Marsh and then take bus 801 towards Cheltenham.
Another route is taking the GWR to Oxford and from there, you can take the Stagecoach bus from there.
Where to Stay
Airbnb was the best way for me to find an affordable place that was unique and dog-friendly. Airbnb has options for filtering searches for “entire homes” where you can have an entire property to yourself or “unique stays” where the places you rent are more than just for sleep.
Use my Airbnb referral code to get up to $65 off your first stay or experience. Airbnb also goes beyond finding a place to sleep. Now, you can even search for “experiences” which include tours, cooking classes, and much more so you can fill up your vacation at the click of a button.
Using the "unique stays" option, I've recently stayed in some amazing places such a lodges in the woods and ecopods. For more information on my experiences, feel free to as me questions in the comment section below.
Coaley Peak is a viewpoint and picnic site located next to the Woodchester Park National Trust. It's a beautiful summit in Gloucestershire overlooking the village of Coaley, which includes Severn Vale and the Forest of Dean.
If you plan on walking through the Cotswolds Way footpath, you will pass through this site.
The Selsley, Rodborough & Minchinhampton Commons are beautiful areas filled with rolling hills and grazing farm animals. It overlooks the river Severn and Malvern Hills into Wales.
There is plenty of parking space and these are popular areas to bring your dog for off-lead hillwalking. With cows and sheep grazing in fields and horseback riders riding through the greenery, it's a break taking and refreshing view of nature.