What's with the Cotswolds

Jun 13th, 2002, 03:33 AM
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What's with the Cotswolds

Hi all,

I've noticed that many American tourists when they come to the UK make a beeline for the Cotswolds. I have one question: Why?! Yes, there are some nice villages and countryside. But that's all it is - nice: average. There's not the wild rocky coastline of Cornwall nor the mountains of Wales or Scotland. East Anglia has prettier villages too, if you ask me. So what's the attraction? Do the Cotswolds just have very good marketing iin the States?!

I'm not saying the Cotsowlds is a bad area, just that there are so many OTHER areas in Britain that are better (in my humble opinion).

Jun 13th, 2002, 04:00 AM
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It's partly publicity, partly access, which is a feedback loop -- demand brings bus tours!

The Cotswolds are what comes to mind to Americans when they think of quaint thatched cottages. They are much closer to London (the arrival point of most Americans) than the other areas you named, so they can be visited in a day or two, and furthermore they are in the same general direction as other popular destinations, like Oxford, Stratford, Warwick, Bath, and parts of Wales. As you've no doubt noticed from these boards, Americans tend to have only a week or 10 days to spend in Britain, and often want to see the countryside in a day trip.

Some Cotswolds towns have gone to great lengths to maintain their unspoilt, frozen-in-time images, to the extent of burying their electric wires and forbidding several types of exterior modernizations, so I think they also appeal to the same sensibilities that prefer Disney to "real-world" experiences.
Jun 13th, 2002, 04:08 AM
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The Cotwolds are real, living, breathing villages, that have existed for centuries. I can't quite see the comparison with Disney!! Many villages in the UK, for example in the lake District, have strict regulations with regard to new building requirements and modernisations ect, so as not to spoil the overall look of an area, with organisations such as English heritage working to preserve the heritage of England. It's not just done for the tourists benefit though.
Jun 13th, 2002, 04:17 AM
J T Kirk
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Blame (or thank, depending on your perspective) people like Rick Steves. You pick up his guide book, and nearly every other guide book as well, and the Cotswolds are mentioned as a "must-see."
I, too, thought the Cotswolds made for a pleasant drive, but I thought the hype was way too much for wat there was. The Cotswolds have their own website, and they'll send you tons of info on the area. It has become an "industry."
I bet most people travelling to England head straight for Bath(Stonehenge), the Cotswolds and London, and leave nearly all the other places unseen. Whatever.
Jun 13th, 2002, 05:17 AM
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About the Disney comparison. I realize that the Cotswolds villages are real places, I referred to the prohibitions of modernizations myself. But in being preserved so cosmetically, they are in some ways sanitized for tourists (and historians') sensibilities, rather than being normal, evolving places. These villages preserve the cute, quaint aspects of thatched roofs etc. but you can bet that they've got modern plumbing underneath, so as to not offend tourists with genuine old-time flies and fragrances. The underlying sensibility of falseness and image is the same as the Disney experience, IMHO.

Having lived in a designated historic district here in the US, I finally got tired of being told what colors I could paint my shutters (from a palette that represented a historic era 100 years before my house was built), so I guess that's what I was (over?)reacting to.
Jun 13th, 2002, 06:32 AM
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I think part of the attraction is that the Cotswolds are convenient for the holy trinity of American tourist targets - Bath, Stratford, and Oxford. A cynical part of me says fine, concentrate the tourism in one smallish area, rather than dispersing it all over.
Jun 13th, 2002, 06:43 AM
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Hmmm, maybe I’m out of the loop here, or just have a different perspective. I’ve stayed in the Cotswolds for a month or so at a time, with native friends, and have never particularly thought of the area as “hyped.” Rather I thought it had a well-deserved reputation as a quiet, pleasant get-away from the frantic pace of London. It reminds me somewhat of the Ozark area in Missouri and Arkansas here in the States, assuming the Ozarks had been settled by the Romans umpteen years ago. Would that we had the foresight to preserve some of the treasures forever lost in our towns and cities. Then places like L.A. and, to a lesser degree, NYC would have a bit more to offer than steel and glass and glass and steel.

Towns like Cirencester and Cheltenham Spa are beautiful, economical, and relaxing. By the way, that’s why some of us travel, to unwind from hectic lives. If I want wall-to-wall excitement I’ll take up skydiving.
Jun 13th, 2002, 06:54 AM
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Gud, if you think the Romans "settled" the area, you haven't been reading yourhistory books.

What on earth did LA have to preserve that's been lost?? NYC does have a bunch of old historic sites, you just have to know where to look. Here's one that's tucked away in Midtown East:

Jun 13th, 2002, 07:05 AM
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Just got back from a trip which included the Northern Cotswolds. I was home-based in Oxford. I found the Cotswolds just the restful interlude I needed. Yes, there were tourists in Chipping Campden and Stow-on-the-Wold (also Jubilee parties), but villages like Upper Slaughter were quiet and shop free. If I had a half million pounds just laying around I think I would also buy a vacation home here and take the occasional day trip to London!
Jun 13th, 2002, 10:24 AM
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As the original poster said, this is just my humble opinion. After all the hype I read before my trip, I also found the Cotswolds to be rather ho-hum. At first glance, the villages looked nice, just like you would imagine, but they mostly turned out to be tourist traps full of souvenir stores all selling the same kind of junk. The countryside is quaint, but not anywhere near as attractive as had been advertised. Actually, it looked a lot like countryside you would find many places all over the world. The place swarms with other tourists and tourist buses during the day. One positive if you do stay there, you will find some very nice accommodations and places to eat. However, that wouldn't make me want to go back there again. If you are really looking for spectacular countryside, scenic beauty, a relaxing pace and a place you can thoroughly enjoy, you should go to N. Wales. Now that is a place I would go back to anytime.
Jun 13th, 2002, 11:31 AM
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Well, unless xxx is reading a different history of Great Britain than I am, yes, the Roman influence looms large in the Cotswolds.There were major settlements and fortifications in Gloucester and Cirencester to name only two. Just two weeks ago I was standing on the top of Roman ruins in Cirencester, so xxx I don’t have the foggiest what you’re on about, unless you take issue with the euphemistic word, “settled”. If that's the case, we're being a bit picky, eh?
Jun 13th, 2002, 11:56 PM
Posts: n/a
Hi Dan,

Thanks for your comments - some American friends of mine were over here in Britain a few weeks ago and wanted to go to the Cotswolds. Fair enough. But I told them to go to north Wales too and they LOVED it there -- much prettier countryside than the Cotswolds, lots of castles and fewer tourists. They hadn't heard of Wales, so certainly wouldn't have thought of going there on their trip!

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