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Family days out in Gloucestershire

By | Blogs

If you’re holidaying in the Cotswolds this half term, you can rest assured you certainly won’t run out of things to do – no matter what the weather throws at you! The region is a hive of attractions for families, with plenty to keep the kids off the screens and thoroughly entertained.

Here’s the lowdown on some of our favourite places to visit with kids in Gloucestershire and surrounding areas. And, because we know long journeys with children are rarely fun for anyone involved, we’ve made sure to include activities and attractions that are less than an hour’s drive from our holiday homes in Cirencester.

Arboretums and Gardens

 

Batsford Arboretum

Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh | GL56 9AT

 

When the kids need to let off some steam in the fresh air, Batsford Arboretum is the perfect spot to let them loose! Located near Moreton-in-Marsh, it offers incredible views across the Evenlode Valley and is home to one of the largest private tree collections in the country.

Batsford is guaranteed to wow no matter what time of year you visit, but our favourite time to wander its 56 acres is in autumn, when the colours of the changing leaves are simply sensational. There’s also a play area for little ones and a fun children’s trail that will teach them about the natural beauty around them. Dogs are welcome too, so there’s no need for your four-legged family member to miss out!

 

Westonbirt Arboretum

Tetbury | GL8 8QS

 

Another botanical garden that’s especially magical in autumn is Westonbirt, The National Arboretum. Located in Tetbury, it’s home to 2500 different tree species, which can be seen in all their glory from the Tree Top Walkway.

Dotted around the deep dark woods are some character sculptures that children will find very familiar – The Gruffalo, the Gruffalo’s Child and other characters from Julia Donaldson’s much-loved tales! When you’ve found them all, kids of all ages can use up any remaining energy in the Natural Play Trail, where they can build a den, clamber over logs, scramble through tyre tunnels and much more!

 

The Dragonfly Maze

Bourton-on-the-Water | GL54 2BN

 

Looking for something a bit different to do as a family? The Dragonfly Maze certainly ticks that box and is an ideal activity to incorporate into a visit to the picturesque town of Bourton-on-the-Water.

This traditional yew-hedge maze consists of around half a mile of pathways and has a fun twist: dotted throughout the maze are 14 clues that make up a rebus puzzle. Solve the puzzle to find the hidden golden dragonfly at the centre of the maze!

 

Cotswold Country Park and Beach

Cirencester | GL7 6DF

If you thought you’d have to travel to the coast to get some beach vibes, think again! The Cotswold Country Park and Beach is quite possibly the region’s most surprising attraction! With a sandy beach, a swimming lagoon, a host of water sports and lots more activities, it’s the kind of day out you can make as energetic or chilled out as you fancy.

One of the most popular attractions for kids (age 6+) and adults alike is Aquaventure: a giant inflatable water park made up of more than 40 challenging obstacles for sliding, bouncing, jumping and splashing on!

 

Wildlife

 

Birdland

Bourton-on-the-Water | GL54 2AY

 

Just a five-minute walk from the centre of Bourton-on-the-Water is Birdland: home to one of the largest collections of exotic birds in the UK. Exhibits include birds of prey, rare breeds, waterfowl and an incredible ‘Out of Africa’ exhibit, where you can meet hornbills, village weavers and more.

Birdland also boasts England’s only breeding group of King Penguins and an awe-inspiring homage to the ancestors of birds: the Jurassic Journey zone, in which you will discover life-sized dinosaurs amongst the trees. It’s all set within nine acres of picturesque gardens and woodland, with a children’s play area, on-site café and plenty of picnic spots making it a full day of fun.

 

Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

Nr. Burford | OX18 4JP

Set in 160 acres of parkland around a listed Victorian Manor House, Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens has been wowing families since 1970. It’s home to a hugely diverse range of animals, many of which are endangered in the wild. But what makes this place unique is the uninterrupted views it offers of the animals – the clever landscaping and carefully considered enclosures make it seem as if you’re viewing the animals in a wild setting. There’s something really special about watching the rhinos graze in front of the spectacular manor house.

The beautiful gardens are just as much of a talking point and will delight anyone with a passion for horticulture. There’s a daily schedule of keeper talks, a fantastic adventure playground and a wide choice of refreshments in the restaurant. Dogs are welcome too!

 

Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park

Guiting Power | GL54 5FL

The family business of Countryfile favourite Adam Henson, the Cotswold Farm Park has always been passionate about the conservation of rare breeds. As a result, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with over 50 breeds of rare and commercial farm animals.

There’s an extensive programme of seasonal events throughout the year, including a pumpkin patch in autumn, lambing in the spring and an unmissable maize maze throughout the summer. It’s well worth checking out the website to see what’s on when you’re planning to visit.

 

Castles and Museums

 

Sudeley Castle

Winchcombe | GL54 5LP

Known as the ‘hidden gem of the Cotswolds’, Sudeley is a majestic 15th-century castle that was once a royal residence and is still a family home today, inhabited by Lady Ashcombe and her son, daughter and their families.

With a fascinating history that’s retold through the exhibition rooms within the building itself, Sudeley boasts ten magnificent gardens, distinctive ruins and one of the largest public collections of rare and endangered species of pheasants. The adventure playground and trail will keep younger visitors entertained, while the Castle Kitchen Pantry and Terrace Café are ideal pitstops for refuelling!

 

Blenheim Palace

Woodstock | OX20 1UL

There’s a wealth of history and horticulture to explore at Blenheim Palace, which is over 300 years old and spans more than 2000 acres. Inside the spectacular building, you can take in such significant sights as Sir Winston Churchill’s birth room, gilded State Rooms and the Marlborough family’s private apartments. Outside, you’re free to roam the Formal Gardens, The Butterfly House or take on the challenge of the famous Marlborough Maze! Children will also love riding on the Blenheim miniature train or taking part in the Bee Trail in the charming Walled Garden.

 

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway

Cheltenham | GL54 5LD

With stations from Broadway to Cheltenham Racecourse, The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway is a volunteer-run railway that runs heritage steam and diesel trains. Step back in time and take a round trip of 28 miles through the Malvern Hills and some of the Cotswolds’ most breathtaking scenery.

 

It’s well worth checking the website before you visit, as there are often special events such as themed rides (fish and chips special, anyone?) and driving experiences – a train enthusiast’s dream!

 

Cotswold Motoring Museum and Toy Collection

Bourton-on-the-Water | GL54 2BY

If classic cars are your thing, a visit to the Cotswold Motoring Museum is not to be missed! The impressive collection of rare cars, motorcycles and memorabilia will take you through the history of 20th-century motoring, while the nostalgic toy collection will take older visitors back to their own childhood and capture the imagination of little ones who may never have seen a toy without batteries! Set within a converted 17th-century watermill, this unique attraction has something for everyone.

 

The Corinium Museum

Cirencester | GL7 2BX

Just down the road from Watermark, this award-winning museum explores 200,000 years of Cotswolds history, with exhibits including some of the most significant archaeological finds from the town of Cirencester – which was once the Roman Town of Corinium. Interactive exhibits bring ancient stories to life, while seasonal events – such as the popular Halloween pumpkin trail – engage and educate kids of all ages!

 

Adventure

 

Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre

Gloucester | GL4 6EA

This adrenalin-filled centre boasts the longest ski slope in England and gives you access to recreational skiing runs, snowboarding lessons and tubes – large inflatable rings that spin and can be linked together to slide down the slopes! You can visit for some one-off fun, or book coaching sessions to brush up your skills.

 

Jungle Parc Swindon

Lydiard Park | SN5 3PA

Got a head for heights? You’ll love Jungle Parc! Located in historic parkland on the edge of Swindon, this action-packed day out features a children’s Adventurer Course with over 50 different activities suitable for little tree climbers aged four and up. For bigger kids (age 10+) and adventurous adults, the Xplorer Course includes over 50 challenging activities suspended in the tree canopy.

When you’ve come back down to earth, you can also pay a visit to Lydiard House for a stroll around the walled garden, a visit to the tearooms or a stomp through its 260 acres of parkland. Dogs are welcome!

 

Still searching for a half-term staycation that will keep the whole family happy? We have some last-minute availability in our luxurious lakeside lodges at Cotswold Water Park. It’s the perfect location for exploring everything the Cotswolds has to offer, or simply kicking back and making the most of some precious family time.

 

Contact us now and we’ll help you plan your perfect getaway.

Butcher's window pane with blue paint surrount

Foraging, fish and feasts!

By | Blogs

A holiday in the Cotswolds is a foodie’s paradise.

 

The Cotswolds has long been celebrated as one of the UK’s top holiday destinations for foodies, thanks to its extensive selection of top-notch eateries. Indeed, whether your heart desires a light bite in a quaint café, a slap-up meal in a Michelin-starred restaurant or a traditional afternoon tea in a charming tea room, you’re spoilt for choice at almost every turn.

 

But it isn’t just the quality of the eateries that has earned the region its reputation as a food-lover’s heaven. It’s also due in no small part to the staggering array of delicious local produce on offer. You’ve probably heard of some of the most famous Cotswoldian exports: Single and Double Gloucester, Stinking Bishop cheese and Hobbs House bread, to name just a few. But there are plenty of other home-grown delights to discover.

 

If you love food and you’re planning a trip to the Cotswolds, you’ll be pleased to hear you can incorporate your passion into your holiday in a big way! Read on to discover some of our top recommendations.

 

Wild garlic growing in the woods beside a path

 

Fancy a spot of foraging?

Foraging – the practice of gathering wild food for free – has become increasingly popular as a pastime in recent years. It’s a brilliant way to get outdoors while learning about nature and the food that grows all around us. And, of course, there’s always the chance you’ll come home with something delicious to show for your efforts! Mushrooms, wild garlic, sorrel, bitter cress, pennywort, wimberries, edible flowers, wild strawberries – depending on the season and the area you’re in, the Cotswolds has no shortage of natural delicacies waiting to be discovered.

 

Close-up photo of a hand holding a basket of mushrooms in the forest

 

If you’re new to foraging and don’t know your herbs from your hedgerows, it’s a good idea to tag along with an expert. Many guided foraging walks and classes take place all over the Cotswolds throughout the year, and they’re a truly memorable way to spend a few happy hours out in the fresh air. Your guides will help you seek out edible treasures, while also providing you with information about local wildlife and birds. Many of the trips culminate with your haul being turned into a unique and delicious meal by a talented chef!

 

If you’d like to include a spot of foraging in your Cotswolds holiday, check out The Tudor Farmhouse Hotel, The Bathurst Estate and Rob Gould, Cotswold Forager.

 

Catch of the day!

 

The Cotswolds is a bona fide haven for anglers. And if you’re looking for the ultimate fishing holiday, Watermark is the perfect setting.

 

Our luxury lodges give you exclusive, unlimited access to the busy fishing lakes of the Cotswolds Water Park – and many of them back directly onto the water, so you don’t have to venture any farther than the back door of your lodge! This allows you to enjoy as much time on the water as you like, without having to compete with the droves of keen anglers who head to the region throughout the year.

If you’re staying elsewhere in the Cotswolds, you can still fish the lakes of the Cotswolds Water Park by purchasing a day ticket through The Tackle Den. This gives you access to Pike Lake (home to pike as large as 31lbs!) and 114 acres of Bradleys Lake, which plays host to mirror carp, tench, perch, roach and pike. If lake fishing isn’t for you, you can also access miles of the River Thames through South Cerney Angling Club, and the River Avon through Swindon Isis Angling Club.

 

Fishing for all the family

 

Maybe you’ve never fished before and are keen to give it a go? England’s oldest working trout farm is located at Bibury and features a ‘Catch Your Own’ Beginners’ Fishery from April to October.

 

Landscape photo of two men fishing in a river in front of a Cotswolds barn

 

All equipment is supplied and expert staff are always around to give a demonstration and lend a hand. You can even hire a barbecue on site to cook your catch! It really is a great family day out and a brilliant way for anyone – young or old – to try their hand at fishing for fun.

Speciality Seafood

 

If you love cooking up delicious fish and seafood dishes but prefer someone else to do the catching, New Wave Fish Shop is a must-visit. Located in the heart of Cirencester, this traditional fishmonger and fine-foods shop is run by a team who are passionate about offering top-quality, responsibly sourced seafood from around the British coastline.

 

 

Grab some fresh fish or seafood to take centre stage in your own home-cooked meal, or sample some of the ready-to-cook dishes prepared in-store by resident chef Ben Hogget. From fish pies and fishcakes to dressed lobsters, crabs and whole poached salmon, you’re sure to find something to tempt your taste buds. What’s more, Ben’s always on hand to offer cooking tips and recipe ideas.

 

From the farm

 

The Cotswolds is famed for its award-winning meat and traditional butchers who supply quality, free-range meat straight from farm to table. When you stay at Watermark, you can arrange delivery of fresh meat and other local produce from one of the region’s most popular butchers and farm shops, Jesse Smith. You can order online and collect from one of six locations from Burford to Tetbury, or have your shopping delivered straight to your lodge. Whether you’re bringing the family together for a Sunday roast or planning a summer barbecue by the lake, you’ll find everything you need (and more) is just a click away.

 

Butcher's window pane with blue paint surrount

If you want to shake things up a bit, The Cotswold Curer offers a tempting range of award-winning cured meats, including salami, chorizo and pancetta made using locally farmed, outdoor-reared pork from both rare and traditional breeds. It’s Mediterranean-style charcuterie with a Cotswolds twist!

 

Get your five a day

 

Of course, if you’re catering for yourselves while staying in the Cotswolds you’ll need a good stock of fresh fruit and vegetables. And there’s no easier way to shop for it than with a next-day delivery from Four Seasons. Choose from twelve mixed boxes – which range from everyday essentials to a deluxe selection for the most discerning palette – safe in the knowledge that everything is sourced from small suppliers and local farms.

 

Alternatively, you can turn shopping for fruit and vegetables into fun for the whole family with a pick-your-own experience at Lotmead Farm, located just outside Swindon. Call the Lotmead Hotline on 01793 790137 to find out what’s available for picking on the day of your planned visit; depending on the time of year you could find yourself coming home with strawberries, gooseberries, blackberries, rhubarb, potatoes, asparagus, broad beans or even a pumpkin or a Christmas tree! There’s also an on-site café, a farm shop, a small animal enclosure, a nature trail and a children’s play area, so you can really make a day of it!

 

Chin-chin!

 

If you’re making an effort to eat local while staying the Cotswolds, it would be rude not to also sample the region’s award-winning wine, right? Poulton Hill Estate Vineyard is part of an exciting movement of English winemakers, situated in the breathtaking countryside near Cirencester.

 

The vineyard is home to over 8000 vines of grape varieties that are specially selected to thrive in the region’s climate, geography and soil. And thrive they certainly do! As many as 20,000 bottles of wine are produced at Poulton Hill each year and the range features whites, rosés, reds, sparkling wines and spirits. Visit the Cellar Door to snap up exclusive discounts and limited editions to perfectly accompany your locally sourced fare.

 

Here at Watermark, we’re all pretty food obsessed and love nothing more than discovering new favourites and seeing our guests enjoying everything The Cotswolds has to offer! If you find another local treasure, be sure to tag us in your pics and recommendations. Find us on Instagram.

What makes a British staycation so great?

By | Blogs

Staycations are set to be a particularly popular holiday choice in 2021 – and it doesn’t take a genius to work out why. Sadly, Covid has put paid to dreams of far-flung, exotic destinations for most of us.

But the truth is, even before a global pandemic changed the face of the travel industry, we were waxing lyrical about staycationing in UK. There’s just so much to love about a homeland holiday and we have a feeling more people will be converted in the coming months – perhaps choosing to holiday in the UK even after the world has properly opened up again.

Here are just some of the reasons we love a Great British staycation:

 

You get to swerve the airport drama.

Getting up at silly o’clock, never-ending queues, baggage allowances, lost luggage… not the most relaxing ways to start a holiday! The great thing about staying in the UK is you can choose when you hit the road, you avoid all the stressful airport procedures and your only restriction on luggage is how much room the kids are taking up in the back of the car! Plus, you don’t have to worry about accidentally leaving someone’s passport at the petrol station.

 

 

Furry friends are welcome!

We’re a nation of pet lovers, and it can be heart-wrenching to leave your four-legged family members at home while you jet off to sunnier climes. Not to mention the hassle of finding a willing pet-sitter while you’re away.

 

 

Here in the UK, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to pet-friendly holiday accommodation, with options up and down the country ranging from hotels to self-catering cottages.

 

Travelling with kids is less stressful.

We’ve all been that parent: trapped on a plane with a screaming baby or a tantruming toddler and feeling like you have hundreds of disgruntled eyes burning holes in the back of your head. It’s not fun for anyone involved.

 

Holidaying in the UK means you can travel in your own vehicle and in your own time. While that won’t guarantee you a tantrum-free journey, you won’t feel like you’re under the scrutiny of other passengers and you can make pit stops for fresh air, snacks and distraction as often you need to.

 

 

It boosts the UK economy.

Choosing to holiday in the UK means your hard-earned money is going back into our own economy and supporting all kinds of businesses that depend on tourism. Hotels, holiday cottages, pubs, cafes, restaurants, leisure attractions, campsites – the list goes on! And, though we don’t want to dwell too much on the C word, there’s no getting away from the fact that in the post-lockdown world our hospitality industry needs the support more than ever.

 

You can combine it with seeing friends and family.

Most of us have friends and family around the UK who we don’t get to see very often. Planning a staycation can be a great opportunity to visit or meet up with loved ones en route to your destination. It’s also much easier to invite extended family to join you for some or all of your holiday than it is if you go abroad.

 

 

You’ll learn more about our beautiful country.

Stick a pin in a map of the UK and no matter where it lands, you’re sure to find a whole host of options for a holiday to remember. There is so much beauty and history to discover right here under our noses, but everyday life is hectic and it’s not usually possible to cover much ground if you’re limited to weekends alone. A staycation is a brilliant way of getting to know this island we call home.

 

Staycations in the Cotswolds

 

Of course, for us the ultimate destination for a Great British staycation is right here in the Cotswolds! Spanning six counties and 790 square miles, this picturesque area boasts charm and history at every turn. The iconic Cotswolds Hills are the region’s best-known landmark, but there is much more to explore besides, including quaint villages, bustling towns, river valleys, woodlands and a heap of family-friendly attractions.

If you’re looking for a base for your holiday in the Cotswolds, you’ll find a selection of country escapes and lakeside lodges here at Watermark. If you’re seeking a rural retreat, you’ll love The Byre at Tiltup, a stunning country house set over two acres in a beautiful hamlet near the charming villages of Southrop and Eastleach. Alternatively, Watermark’s lakeside properties are nestled right in the heart of the Cotswold Water Park: a stunning wetlands landscape made up of 147 lakes spanning 40 square miles of the breathtaking Gloucestershire countryside. The Watermark lakes are home to a collection of luxury lodges and a variety of activities for kids and adults alike. From scenic routes for walking and cycling to fishing, swimming, sailing and wakeboarding, there’s no shortage of things to do.

 

Feeling inspired? Whether you’re a couple craving romantic seclusion or a large family with the kids and dog in tow, start planning your staycation at Watermark today.

 

 

Country Escapes in the Cotswolds

By | Blogs

Thought Watermark was all about the lakes?

 

Think again!

 

In addition to our beautiful lakeside retreats, we also offer a selection of family-friendly properties in the heart of the Gloucestershire countryside. In the spotlight this month is one of the most recent additions to the Watermark family, The Byre at Tiltup.

About The Byre at Tiltup

This stunning, recently completed barn conversion is set within two acres of picturesque countryside in a small hamlet between the charming Cotswolds villages of Southrop and Eastleach.

As you approach this four-bedroom property, you can’t fail to be blown away by the spectacular scenery of private paddocks, woods and farmland that surround it. Step through the door and the first thing you notice is that every effort has been made to bring that natural splendour inside the property, too. Floor-to-ceiling windows, bifold doors and skylights ensure the whole building is flooded with light.

In this house, every room is a room with a view.

The light and airy feeling continues upstairs, too, thanks to a statement atrium featuring a steel balustrade and a galleried landing beneath an oversized skylight.

 

Modern luxuries with a planet-friendly focus

Of course, The Byre is complete with all the modern luxuries you’d expect from a Watermark property.

The spacious open-plan living area comprises a kitchen, dining room and lounge set beneath a striking vaulted ceiling. The fully fitted kitchen has a Nespresso machine and Quooker tap, and the décor throughout is a muted and soothing palette of neutrals and greys with accents of natural timber. An app-controlled tunnel fire transforms the living room and adjacent snug into havens of cosiness at the push of a button.

An eco-conscious approach has been taken at every stage of The Byre’s renovations. High-spec insulation ensures maximum energy efficiency, while ground-source underfloor heating provides heating and cooling functionality, ensuring the perfect temperature all year round and typically using 15-40% less energy than traditional radiators. A BIOROCK septic tank provides a sustainable and smart water treatment system, and LED lamps are installed in every room – but with so much natural light flooding the house, there really is minimal need to use them!

The Byre is an ideal setting for those who want to log out of technology and savour a digital detox, but if you prefer to stay connected the property is kitted out with super-fast unlimited broadband, a 55-inch smart TV, an entertainment system and a Sonos sound system.

Restful nights and peaceful mornings

Upstairs, The Byre comfortably sleeps up to eight guests across four bedrooms, two of which have en-suite facilities. The master bedroom benefits from fabulous views across the countryside, and there is no better start to the day than enjoying breakfast on its private balcony with only early-morning birdsong for company.

Al fresco dining

When the weather is fine, The Byre’s terraces make memorable settings for evening drinks or a spot of al fresco dining. If you fancy taking the cooking outside too, you can take advantage of the gas barbecue and the paddock’s firepit. Barbecued sausages and toasted marshmallows are always a winner!

When you don’t feel like cooking at all, you’ll find a choice of pubs and restaurants in Southrop and Eastleach, both of which are within walking distance.

Things to do

You’re never short of things to do in the Cotswolds, and The Byre is a brilliant base for exploring the wider area.

Celebrated as one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds, Burford is just eight miles away and plays host to a range of attractions including the famous Burford Garden Centre, a bustling high street and the Cotswold Wildlife Park.

If walking and water sports are your thing, nearby Lechlade is a must-visit. It’s also renowned locally for its wide selection of artisan coffee shops, where you can enjoy a hot cuppa and homemade cake. Just the ticket after an active day!

Tempted by The Byre at Tiltup? This Cotswolds gem currently has some availability through the summer holidays. Book now to secure your dates!

 

Winter at Watermark

Experience Winter at Watermark

By | Blogs

If ever there was a Year of the Staycation, 2020 must surely be it. And, let’s face it, with international restrictions still in place and many of us feeling uneasy about travelling outside of the UK, it’s likely to be a while before we’re willing and/or able to venture to far-flung destinations. So why not try a Winter at Watermark?

Memorable holidays don’t always start in an airport lounge. Nestled in the heart of the Cotswold Water Park, just 90 minutes from London, Watermark is a haven of peace and tranquillity that’s easily accessible yet feels delightfully secluded.

Winter is a wonderful time to visit a Watermark lakeside retreat. Arriving for your winter staycation, you’ll feel your worries simply melt away as you take in the stunning Gloucestershire countryside, elegantly manicured grounds and natural beauty that is, quite literally, on your doorstep. The Cotswolds offers an array of attractions to explore, but the wonder of a winter at Watermark is the huge selection of exclusive activities available right here within our lakes.

Family fun is what we do best, and our on-site activities promise to keep everyone entertained, whatever the weather. Our Children’s Activity Park boasts swings, climbing frames and a super-exciting zip wire for thrill seekers of all ages! Older children and teens will love hanging out in our games room, while our youngest guests can burn off some energy in our soft-play room and sporty types can take advantage of our boules court, cricket nets, table-tennis pavilion and football pitch.

Most of our lodges have private decks that give you immediate access to the water, and we offer a variety of water sports for beginners and experts alike. Try your hand at fishing, glide out on a canoe or paddleboard, or have a go at wakeboarding or water-skiing if you like a faster pace. Fancy stretching your legs while taking in the scenery? Our lakeside paths range from a gentle 1.6km to a more challenging 18km and are all fantastic routes for walking or cycling.

However you choose to spend your day, you can look forward to returning to your cosy lodge, which will become your own secret hideaway for the duration of your stay. Hunker down in front of a film, relax with a book or bring out the board games for some good old-fashioned fun! If you enjoy cooking, our fully equipped kitchens provide everything you need to create home-cooked meals, but if you’re planning a complete break from chef’s duties you can order in from one of the nearby businesses that deliver mouth-watering food direct to your lodge. We love Jonathan’s Catering for irresistible meals prepared using the very finest ingredients, and Bibury Trout Farm for fresh trout and locally sourced groceries.

If you’re celebrating an occasion while you’re staying with us, be sure to check out Poulton Hill Estate for small-batch red, white and sparkling wines produced right here in the Cotswolds. And if you’re looking to surprise someone special, local florist Oops a Daisy can deliver beautiful bouquets and handcrafted chocolates.

When the day comes to an end and the kids are tucked up in bed, there is nothing more romantic than cosying up to watch the moon rise and the stars glow above the peaceful lake. You can even arrange your own private hot tub on the deck – the perfect setting for cracking open a bottle of bubbly and raising a glass to a day well spent.

What better way is there to escape the hurries of everyday life this winter? Have a Winter at Watermark!

 

 

 

Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham Festival: Wondrous Week at Watermark

By | Blogs

Only a 35-minute drive from our luxurious holiday homes and lodgesCheltenham Festival – known as the most prestigious National Hunt jump racing event of the year – gathers the world’s top jump jockeys take to their greatest stage at Cheltenham Racecourse to compete for a myriad of prestigious trophies. Running from Tuesday 10th March and culminating with Gold Cup day on Friday 13th March, Cheltenham Festival transforms a day at the races into “Four Days of Extraordinary drama and high emotion, with moments of pure theatre thrown in for good measure.”

With your holiday home-away-from-home not far from the racecourse we take pride in going the extra mile, turning those four race-filled days into your personal Wonderous Week at Watermark. Read on as we outline this electric festival, and show you how Cheltenham Festival and Watermark are a match made in heaven – and we’re not horsing around!

Tuesday 10th March – Champion Day

The famous Cheltenham ‘roar’ will erupt to kick the week off at 1:30PM on the first day of festivities, allowing you to justify a well-deserved and undisturbed lie-in at one of our luxury lodges. With seven races lined up, including the Unibet Champion Hurdle, Champion Day throws you straight into the drama and action. After a day full of excitement, we recommend stopping off in Cirencester and finding a hearty pub dinner before hopping straight to bed as soon as you enter your lovely lodge.

Wednesday 11th March – Ladies Day

Infamous for its tens of thousands of fashionable festival-goers, Ladies Day opens the doors to those who want to show off head turning raceday outfits, adding a splash of colour to Cheltenham Racecourse. Although ladies and their outfits are the stars of the show, don’t forget to pay a visit to The Park, a new addition to the already variety-filled festival, that gives you the opportunity to enjoy a bite of street food whilst dancing to live music performances throughout the day. Travel light and party safe in the knowledge that your remaining outfits are quietly awaiting your return at our secure lakeside premises.

Thursday 12th March – St. Patrick’s Day

Traditional Irish folk music, celebrating the Emerald Isle, and two hugely competitive races – the Ryanair Chase and Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle – make St. Patrick’s Day at Cheltenham an unmissable event. Make sure your outfit lets you horse around and jig to the day’s fantastic music lineup, including performances by The Lucky 15’s, Taylor & The Mason, and All Folked Up. Even if you have no Irish blood, you’ll be overwhelmed with the Irish spirit and sense of community.

Friday 13th March – Gold Cup Day

An absolute must-do on any sports fan’s bucket list, the Gold Cup Day is the crème da la crème of jump racing, and marks the finale of Cheltenham Festival. You’ll be one of over 70,000 attendees witnessing the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup – a highly sought after trophy that only the best of the best compete for. With 22 fences over 3 miles 2½ furlongs (5,294m), this seven minute stamina sapping race is the blue riband of jump racing and is presented on a world stage. There’s no better place to be than live at the racecourse to experience the unforgettable atmosphere.

With home just around the corner, there’s no better way to spend Cheltenham Festival than coupling it with a private, peaceful, and perfect stay at one of our holiday homes. Get in touch if you have any questions about our holiday homes, and begin booking your Wonderous Week at Watermark.

 

Christmas in the Cotswolds

Watermark Wanderers: Christmas in the Cotswolds

By | Blogs

Whether you’ve just set foot inside one of our luxurious properties for a Christmas in the Cotswolds, or have invested in one of our award-winning holiday properties, we know how difficult it can be to find the exit after becoming acquainted with your home away from home.

With clearwater sailing, serene fishing, and a competitive game of tennis sitting just outside your front door, you’ll struggle to find a reason to stray too far from our water park. But there is so much more to do in the local area, and it’s all just a hop, skip and a jump away from your private haven.

Watermark Wanderers is a series of blog posts that helps you explore all things Cotswolds and beyond as you enjoy the peace of a lake getaway. In this edition, we’ll be wandering into a Winter Wonderland, and discovering the festivities all over the Cotswolds. From Christmas markets to illuminated castles, the Cotswolds offers thousands of classic Christmas card camera captures, with the authentic winter spirit to go with them!

Festive Food in a Pub

It’s hard to choose your favourite homely eaterie when The Cotswolds is laden with traditional British pubs that serve mouth-watering festive grub. If you’re looking for a nearby nook that serves all the trimmings, The Potting Shed Pub is a swift fifteen minute drive away, and is renowned for its cosy atmosphere, locally sourced ingredients, and exquisite Christmas Menu. Or, if you’re looking to break the norm to enjoy a very festive steak(!), Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa prepares delectable delights, and is a quick 30 minute drive away. Don’t forget to book first!

Sudeley Castle’s “Spectacle of Light”

Unmissable if you’re dazzled by the utterly dazzling, Sudeley Castle’s “Spectacle of Light” event leads you on an irradiated adventure through its grounds. With light displays strewn across the castle, gardens, and ruins, you’ll find it hard to hide the twinkle in your eye. 2019’s theme is Peter Pan, so be prepared to lose yourself in J. M. Barrie’s unforgettable tale, told in a way you could have never imagined.

Bath Christmas Market

Christmas in the Cotswolds

Combining wonderment, winter treats, and wondrous stalls, strolling through Bath Christmas Market forces you to reminisce about homemade mince pies and the waft of fresh-out-the-oven gingerbread. Overlooked by the architectural masterpiece that is Bath Abbey, you’ll find it difficult to turn a corner without your jaw hitting the floor – and what better way to close it with a variety of locally baked, tasty winter treats.

Warming Winter Walks

After all that Christmas Market food, what better way to burn those calories than to admire the very best scenery the Cotswolds has to offer. Pack your warmest gloves and don your thickest coat as you set off on a chilly, yet peaceful amble in some of the most beautiful public parks the country has to offer. Two of our favourite hiking trails are Broadway Tower (30 miles from your front door) and Cotswolds AONB (only 15 miles up the road). Make sure to check the opening times before setting off on a superbly memorable mosey.

What are your favourite activities and sights in and around The Cotswolds during Christmas? Do you think we’ve missed something that absolutely has to be included on your Watermark winter itinerary? Get in touch to let us know what you think, tag us in an Instagram post at @watermarkcotswolds, or Tweet us at @watermarkclub.

Watermark Wanderers

Watermark Wanderers: Cirencester

By | Blogs

Watermark Wanderers is a series of blog posts that helps you explore all things Cotswolds and beyond as you enjoy the peace of a lake getaway. In this edition, we’ll be wandering the streets of Cirencester, the Cotswolds largest market town which is simultaneously bustling and tranquil, with the centre situated only six miles from your porch. Why book a flight when there’s so much to see in your own back garden?

Whether you’ve just set foot inside one of our luxurious properties for a magnificent weekend getaway, or have invested in one of our award-winning holiday properties, we know how difficult it can be to find the exit after becoming acquainted with your home away from home.

With clearwater sailing, serene fishing, and a competitive game of tennis sitting just outside your front door, you’ll struggle to find a reason to stray too far from our water park. But there is so much more to do in the local area, and it’s all just a hop, skip and a jump away from your private haven. Follow Watermark Wanderers for more information.

Cirencester Town Centre

‘Quintessential’ is an overused word when it comes to describing something as English as warm beers and cricket – but there truly is no better adjective to use when referring to Cirencester town centre. The charm of discovering homemade goods at the Charter Market in the shadow of the 12th century parish church is too English for words. Any words outside “quintessentially British” that is.

Church of St. John the Baptist

Acting as Cirencester’s centrepiece, the Church of St. John the Baptist has stood proudly for over 800 years. Combining an architecturally unique zig-zagging upper balcony, and a hallmark open-plan Gothic interior, the church is the first thing you’ll see when arriving to the town centre, and is the first thing you’ll want to explore.

Corinium Museum

Cirencester was once an important Roman settlement so it’s no surprise that hundreds of Roman artefacts have been discovered at the site of Corinium over the years, and displayed in the Corinium Museum. From incredible floor and wall mosaic displays, to more recent medieval sculptures, the Corinium Museum oozes history and teaches you more than a thing or two about Gloucestershire’s fascinating past.

Cirencester Park – Bathurst Estate

If you’re looking to escape the business of the town centre, Cirencester Park lends its 3000 acres to allow visitors to mentally tune out and temporarily forget responsibility. The park offers a perfectly peaceful environment for picnics on a clear skied day, wonderful walks for some spontaneous mental meditation, and long paths for breezy bike rides. Time it right and you could be a spectator of the Cirencester Park Polo Club enjoying a sportsmanlike game of their favourite English pastime.

What are your favourite activities and sights in and around Cirencester? Do you think we’ve missed something that absolutely has to be included on your Watermark itinerary? Get in touch to let us know what you think, tag us in an Instagram post at @watermarkcotswolds, or Tweet us at @watermarkclub.

summer at Watermark

A day with Watermark this summer

By | Blogs

If you’re wondering what a summer at Watermark has to offer you, read on! Here you will discover what a typical day spent in the Cotswolds could look like – packed full of family fun and delicious food, Watermark has plenty of options to make sure this summer is spent doing what you love.

Morning

Breakfast

Whether you decide to make the most of your self-catering amenities and eat al-fresco by the lake, or choose to dine out, the most important meal of the day deserves to be done in style to set you up for a day of adventures. Amongst the various cafés and coffee shops around the Cotswold area, The Gateway Café provides an excellent freshly cooked breakfast, with Avocado on Toast, Buttermilk Pancakes and their classic ‘Big Breakfast’ with local Kelmscott Smoked Back Bacon – you won’t be disappointed.

Activities

The Cotswold Water Park has a beautiful selection of walking routes so that you and the family can explore the countryside together. Ranging from a relaxed 1.6km walk on Route 1 to an impressive 18km on walk/ cycle Route 6, you can decide which intensity suits you, and embrace the glorious summertime rays.
Afternoon

Lunch

It’s time to refuel, and there are plenty of excellent local options, from pubs and restaurants to delis and farm shops:

The Lakeside Brasserie can be found on Spring Lake, and is the ideal spot to sit and unwind next to the water. If you’re lucky enough to be around on a Sunday afternoon, you could dig into one of their succulent home-cooked roasts. Delicious.

If picnics are your thing, you must make a stop at Jesse Smith Farm Shop and Coffee House for artisanal fare and fresh, local produce. The Organic Farm Shop has a lovely café, and is well worth a visit.

The Potting Shed Pub is a short drive away, and home to the best pub lunch around, with a creative, seasonal menu championing British food. We recommend booking in advance!

Afternoon activities

Now, your afternoon plans could take two very different routes, depending on how tired you are from the morning walk…

Totally chill out. Crack open a bottle of wine, fire up the BBQ and lounge on your private deck. A cosy Summer’s evening spent underneath a blanket could be just the thing.

Get wet! For the thrill seekers there are a great range of water sports available. The Lakeside Ski and Wake welcomes beginners and experts alike.

If you’re in the mood to step out, there are plenty of superb restaurants to try in Gloucester and Cirencester.

Watermark’s luxury lodges

What to do in the Cotswolds when the weather isn’t on our side

By | Blogs

When visiting Watermark’s luxury lodges this summer, you may be expecting a getaway jam-packed with the various fun and thrilling outdoor activities that are readily available. Wake boarding, Paddle boarding, Cycling or a 9-hole round of golf. What more could you ask for? But this isn’t always possible with the stringent hold of mother nature, causing an imagined sunny break to suddenly twist into a wet weekend.

However, don’t let this rain on your parade. Watermark have 100% got you covered. Not only do the lodges provide a beautiful interior, fit with everything you would need to completely relax and unwind within the natural surroundings of the Cotswolds, the indoor activities at Watermark and the surrounding area can also provide a fun-filled getaway:

Get your skates on in Swindon: Only a 22-minute drive from Watermark, Link Centre provides a fantastic escape from the rain with their ice arena. This centre is noted to attract people from all over the south west, providing those damp days an exhilarating frosty spin. Whether you’re a beginner or an ice-skating pro, Swindon’s rink provides all people the chance to brush up on their skating skills.

Splash around at Cricklade: Splashing in the water isn’t restricted to Watermark’s outdoor lake activities – Cricklade Leisure Centre can also provide fun for all the family. With family swim sessions only costing £12 and fun & float activities running every weekend, there’s no stop to what joy both parents and children can experience. Of course, for the dare devils amongst us who would still like to splash about during the outdoor water sports, be our guest, but if indoor water activities are more suited for you, then Cricklade Leisure Centre may be the answer.

The De Vere, Spa6: Watermark’s neighbouring luxury spa also provides an idyllic way to dodge the rainy weather and unwind by taking advantage of the various spa facilities. Amongst the steam rooms and relaxation suites, Spa6 also provides a variety of beauty treatments and men’s grooming – but if you’re wanting to truly embody the rural feel of the Cotswolds, the ancient Rasul Therapy will guarantee to maximise your experience. And to make sure you get the best from Spa6, this June a special two for £50 offer is running Monday to Thursday, that includes access to various spa treatments and the choice of lunch or afternoon tea. You won’t want to miss out.

Wyvern Theatre and Arts Centre: if jazzing up a peaceful stay in the Cotswolds is more your style, then from the 26th of June Rhythm of The Dance is taking Swindon by storm. This event promises an evening full of Irish dance prowess, bursting with colour and energy to truly transport you from everyday life. But, if Irish dancing isn’t for you, there are many other events running through the entire summer period at the Wyvern Theatre and Arts Centre. Shows like the Rock of Ages, running from the 8th to the 13th of July and Rob Beckett’s hilarious Work in Progress on the 27th of June, guarantee that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

When the rain comes crashing down you may rightly question your decision to visit Watermark’s luxury lodges. But do not fear, this list of both fun and relaxing indoor activities will ensure that your stay in the Cotswolds is as idyllic as possible. Don’t just take our word for it, come see for yourself.