The Cotswolds are a range of hills in south western and west-central England covering an area approximately 25 miles (40 km) across and 90 miles (145 km) long.
The area, which has been designated as the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, lies mainly within the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but extends into parts of Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire, and Warwickshire.
The Cotswolds were designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966, with an expansion on 21 December 1990 to 1,990 square kilometres (768 sq mi). In 1991, all AONBs were measured again using modern methods. The official area of the Cotswolds AONB was increased to 2,038 square kilometres (787 sq mi).
In 2000, the government confirmed that AONBs had the same landscape quality and status as National Parks.
The Cotswolds AONB, which is the largest one in England and Wales, stretches from the border regions of South Warwickshire and Worcestershire, through West Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, and takes in parts of Wiltshire, Bath, and North East Somerset in the South. Gloucestershire County Council is responsible for sixty-three percent of the AONB. [source: Wikipedia]
Road links to the area are good; The Cotswolds lie between the M5, M40, and M4 motorways.
The main non-motorway roads through the area are:
the A46: Bath – Stroud – Cheltenham
the A419: Swindon – Cirencester – Stroud
the A429: Cirencester – Stow-on-the-Wold – Moreton-in-Marsh
the A40: Oxford – Burford – Cheltenham.
These all roughly follow the routes of ancient roads, some laid down by the Romans, such as Ermin Street and the Fosse Way.
Why not hire a classic car in the Cotswolds?
The area is bounded by two major rail routes: in the south by the main Bristol–Bath–London High Speed line (including the South Wales Main Line) and in the west by the Bristol–Birmingham main line.
In addition, the Cotswold Line runs through the Cotswolds from Oxford to Worcester, and the Golden Valley Line runs from Swindon via Stroud to Gloucester, carrying high speed and local services.
Main-line, high-speed rail services to the big cities run from stations such a Bath, Swindon, Oxford, Cheltenham, and Worcester. High-speed services to London Paddington also are available from Kemble station near Cirencester, Kingham station near Stow-on-the-Wold, Charlbury station, and Moreton-in-Marsh station.
Additionally, there is the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway serving the Cotswolds from Cheltenham to Winchcombe.
Cheltenham, which is located just West of the Cotswolds, is a hub for National Express coach services. There are local bus services across the area. For instance, a coach service runs directly from London Victoria to Cirencester.