Gloucestershire is a picturesque county, situated where the West Midlands and South Wales meet the West Country.
As well as some ancient towns, Gloucestershire contains two famous areas of great beauty. The Cotswolds take up a great deal of the county, and spill into Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. The Forest of Dean lies across the River Severn towards Wales.
Gloucester itself was a Roman town and is now a very interesting cathedral city with many old buildings. Gloucester Docks are now a tourist attraction, with shops and museums, in their own right.
Cirencester is a thriving market town, which was also an important Roman town. It has a brilliant parish church and an astonishing 40 foot yew hedge.
Tewkesbury is another ancient market town. Tewkesbury Abbey is one of England’s finest Norman structures, and is often mistaken for a cathedral.
Cheltenham is famed for its elegance and decorum, and is also the birthplace of Gustav Holst.
The beautiful rolling Cotswolds contain lots of delightful little towns and villages, including the sublime Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Campden, Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold.
The Forest of Dean is still a lovely wooded area. It was in bygone centuries part of England’s industrial heartland, but much of the area’s prosperity today comes from tourism.
The River Thames rises near Cirencester, and the highest point to which it is navigable is Lechlade.
Other features of Gloucestershire include Badminton, home of the famous horse trials; Berkeley Castle, where Edward II was horribly murdered; part of Offa’s Dyke, the ancient boundary between Mercia and Wales; Sudeley Castle, where Katherine Parr, the widow of Henry VIII, lived; and Westonbirt, with its superb arboretum.
The historic, and still hugely significant, city of Bristol is now, along with Bath, part of the new county of Avon.