Gloucestershire is a county in south-west England. It comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean. The county seat is Gloucester and other principal towns include Cheltenham, Stroud, Cirencester, and Tewkesbury.
Cities, towns and villages
- 2 Cheltenham – spa town and home of the Cheltenham Racecourse.
- 3 Chipping Campden
- 4 Cirencester – main town of the Cotswolds
- 5 Lydney
- 6 Moreton-in-Marsh
- 7 Patchway
- 8 Stow-on-the-Wold
- 9 Stroud and the Five Valley villages such as Nailsworth and Minchinhampton
- 10 Tetbury
- 11 Tewkesbury – historic town famed for its role in the War of the Roses.
- 12 Thornbury – has medieval castle and a popular high street, also known for its churches, pubs and former railway station
- 13 Winchcombe – a small Cotswold town, home to Sudeley Castle and Hailes Abbey
- 14 Wotton-under-Edge
- 15 Yate and Chipping Sodbury
- 16 Berkeley – village, home to Berkeley Castle, a magnificent medieval fortress and scene of the gruesome murder of King Edward II in 1327
- 17 Bourton-on-the-Water – a large Cotswold village known for its picturesque beauty. Still features some interesting, independent shops.
- 18 Chedworth – a village known for its Roman villa.
- 19 Fairford
- 20 Kemble
- 21 Lower Slaughter – a quintessential English village nestled in the Cotswolds. The dour name refers to the wetlands and the River Eye which flows through the village. From here, you can walk to Upper Slaughter – a similarly beautiful village – in a matter of minutes.
- 22 Severn Beach and the Severn Bridge
The county of Gloucestershire is divided into several districts for administrative purposes. These are: Gloucester, Cheltenham, the Forest of Dean, Tewkesbury, Stroud, and the Cotswold district. The former two are almost entirely urban, with Gloucester being the more industrial and working-class city relative to the rather genteel town of Cheltenham - and a strong rivalry between the two exists. The other, more rural, districts surround the two towns with the Forest of Dean covering the west of the county, Tewkesbury covering the north and centre, Stroud covering the south, and Cotswold covering the east.
The district of South Gloucestershire is a fully independent authority, and is only part of the county for ceremonial and historical purposes. The area was briefly part of a county called Avon which included Bristol together with all of its suburbs, but this arrangement was very unpopular and was abolished in 1996.
The M5 motorway and M4 motorway both cross the region. The Severn Bridges are themselves major landmarks. The A40 is a significant road that connects the county from west to east.
Gloucestershire is served by reasonable levels of public transport for a rural county, particularly in Gloucester and Cheltenham.
Stagecoach provide the majority of bus services around the county, as well as connections to locations outside the county including Swindon, Oxford, and Hereford. Services are most frequent on the routes connecting Gloucester and Cheltenham, but frequencies from either to Stroud and Tewkesbury are hourly or better, with Cirencester having an hourly bus from Cheltenham. Most buses have numbers but the local services within Cheltenham have letters instead.
Trains connect Cheltenham and Gloucester with services then continuing to either Lydney (and then South Wales), Cam and Dursley (then Bristol), or Stroud and Kemble (then Swindon and London). In general trains are faster than buses but are much less frequent, and Cheltenham's railway station is located around a mile from the town centre. Note that Moreton-in-Marsh station, in the far north of the county, does not have direct train services to anywhere else in Gloucestershire, and is actually on the Worcester to Oxford line.
The more rural parts of the county have a more sporadic service, particularly in the Cotswolds. Pulham's are the main operators here, but there a number of smaller independent operators too. In these areas you can generally get around with careful planning, but it is probably necessary to hire a car if you want to see most attractions in the area.
South Gloucestershire's public transport network is more closely linked with Bristol than it is with the north of the county, and here First Bus provide many of the services. To get here from Gloucester or Cheltenham, it is usually best to take a train to Yate or Bristol Parkway (the latter of which is in Gloucestershire), and then use local buses to reach your final destination.
Gloucestershire is known for several food stuffs, including its own breed of pig, the Gloucestershire Old Spot:
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