Gloucestershire - The Cotswolds & more

The charm of The Cotswolds only part of Gloucestershire's great offer for groups

You could say the region is essentially split into three areas - the Cotswolds, the Royal Forest of Dean and the Vales of Severn and Berkeley. The Cotswolds is renowned nationally and internationally, largely for its sheer beauty which is always pleasing on the eye. Covering almost 800 square miles, it is the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in England and Wales, and although it extends in part through Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, Gloucestershire is essentially the heart of 'the Wolds'.

Among its many attributes and visitor appeal, it is famous for an array of delightful market towns, picture-postcard villages intrinsically formed from honey-coloured stone, gentle rolling hills and lush countryside.

Added to this perfect landscape there are a great range of varied attractions for groups and visitors of all interests and tastes, including some of the finest gardens in England, a host of places to eat and drink, and a wealth of accommodation options for overnight and longer stays.

Nestling between the Wye Valley, the Vale of Leadon and the Severn Vale, the Forest of Dean is another fascinating region to explore. Lying in the western part of Gloucestershire between the Rivers Wye and Severn, and on the borders of Wales and Herefordshire, it was designated as a national forest park in 1938 and is one of England's few remaining ancient forests. The Forest is one of the most distinctive areas in the UK having a seductive charm and character that is uniquely its own.

The stunning landscapes, spectacular scenery, culture and heritage have inspired artists, craftspeople, inventors, poets and playwrights, as well as the many visitors who return year after year.

The Wye Valley is also officially designated an AONB and has enthralled discerning visitors since the 18th Century. It combines a unique blend of Welsh and English influences with some breathtaking natural scenery which is rich in history and wildlife.

When visiting Gloucestershire, the elegant Regency spa town of Cheltenham is an obvious 'must visit'. It was transformed from a small spa village into a fashionable centre through the patronage of George III, and according to local legend, the town's mineral spring was discovered in 1715 by a flock of pigeons.