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Outdoor dining table and chairs on a contemporary wooden decking area next to a pond

Self-Catering Holidays in the Cotswolds

By | Blogs

There are so many reasons why self-catering holidays in the Cotswolds are a brilliant choice – whether you’re holidaying as a couple, a family or a group of friends.

First and foremost, catering for yourselves means you’re not restricted to the same setting, the same faces and the same menu day in, day out – you are completely in control of when, what and where you eat. The Cotswolds has a staggering number of restaurants, cafes and pubs offering a huge variety of cuisines, with something to suit all tastes and budgets, and going self-catering gives you the freedom to sample as many as you like. You can explore eateries near to your accommodation or venture further afield, but one thing’s for sure, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Contemporary open plan kitchen/dining room

Then of course, there’s the fact that – even when we’re on holiday – sometimes we simply don’t feel like going out to eat. Self-catering accommodation gives you the option to hunker down in your home-from-home whenever you want to. You can order a takeaway, cook up the family’s favourite breakfast, rustle up a packed lunch to take with you on a daytrip, or plan a romantic dinner for two with the guarantee of no unwanted interruptions from waiting staff!

Grand living room interior with large white sofa and wooden floors

A self-catering holiday is often the preferred choice for families with young children, for the simple reason that it removes the hassle of trying to keep the kids entertained while you’re all sat in a restaurant or pub. The children can continue to play or watch a movie while you cook, without the worry that they’re disturbing other diners or moaning they’re bored while waiting for food to arrive.

Outdoor dining table and chairs on a contemporary wooden decking area next to a pond

Last but not least, if your self-catering accommodation has outdoor space, you can take full advantage of being able to dine al fresco when the weather is fine – this is a definite bonus, as pub gardens tend to get very busy throughout the summer in the Cotswolds!

Self-Catering Properties at Watermark Cotswolds

Here at Watermark, we’re proud to offer one of the biggest selections of self-catering accommodation in the Cotswolds.

Whether you opt for one of our stunning lakeside lodges or a country retreat, you can book with confidence that all our properties feature fully equipped kitchens that make self-catering a complete joy.

Those who like to prepare ahead can organise a supermarket food shop to be delivered directly to your Watermark holiday home, but if you’d rather go with the flow, you’ll find local village shops and the market town of Cirencester within easy reach of your property.

Sun loungers under an umbrella on decking

Every single one of our properties also has either a gas or a charcoal barbecue on hand, so you can really make the most of any opportunities to eat outside. The region is also blessed with a great many independent butchers, farm shops and delis offering fresh, local and top-quality produce to make your barbecue a truly memorable affair.

In the spotlight: Dancers Cottage

One our most popular self-catering properties is Dancers Cottage – a truly stunning Cotswold barn conversion situated in a picturesque hamlet just half a mile away from the villages of Eastleach and Southrop.

country house in English garden
'Dancer's Cottage' house sign on an old wall

Boasting six bedrooms and four bathrooms, this beautiful property can sleep up to 14 guests, so it’s absolutely ideal for a getaway or celebration with family and friends. Up to two well-behaved dogs are welcome too, so your furry friends don’t have to be excluded from the festivities.

Large outdoor table set for a meal on a sunny day

The large private garden has a lovely lawn that provides the setting for hours of fun and games for kids big and small! The patio area is complete with a large seating area and a charcoal AND Gas barbecue for al-fresco feasts, and you can even add a hot tub and a children’s paddling pool to your booking to make time in the garden even more special.

Large dining table set for a meal inside an old cottage with wooden beams

Inside, the charming kitchen features a vaulted ceiling and windows overlooking the river, which brings an outdoorsy feel to indoor mealtimes. The shaker-style units enhance the cottage’s traditional country styling, but all the modern amenities you could need are on hand to make your self-catering holiday completely hassle-free. The electric range cooker is big enough to cook up a large family roast to share around the 14-seat dining table, while the microwave is on standby when you have a need for speed. There’s even a Nespresso coffee machine for your morning caffeine fix.

Dancers Cottage is just one of the many properties we have on offer for self-catering holidays in the Cotswolds! To browse all of our properties and check availability, check out our holiday planner.

2000 Trees festival

Top 9 Festivals in the Cotswolds to visit this summer

By | Blogs

If you love the idea of a festival but not so much the camping, you can use your base at Watermark Cotswolds to experience all the wonderful music events in the area and retreat to luxury at night. Here’s our best 9 local 2022 festivals in the Cotswolds to visit this summer:

Female singer from the band Texas in front of brown textured background

1. Forest Live Festival

9th – 12th June 2022

Managed by Forestry England, Forest Live 2022 is taking place at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, here in Gloucestershire. Concerts are a relaxed affair set in spectacular forest, with tickets still available for Keane and Texas. Income from ticket sales contribute towards preserving the nation’s forests and wildlife so you can party hard knowing it’s for a great cause.

Woman and three children holding hands at The Big Feastival festival

2. The Big Feastival

26th – 28th August 2022

We love the Big Feastival’s laid-back family vibe. With a foodie-focus this festival is a civilised affair with Champagne and oyster bars, celeb cookery demonstrations and a great street food offering. Located at Blur bassist Alex James’ farm in the Cotswold countryside, the festival is easy to get to from our location in South Cerney. It also has a surprising number of big names performing, with this year’s line-up including The Stereophonics, Basement Jaxx, and The Human League.

Couple in fancy dress at Fantasy Forest Festival

3. Fantasy Forest Festival

15th – 17th July 2022

Sci-fi, fantasy, cosplay and re-enactment enthusiasts unite at Sudley Castle’s Fantasy Forest Festival. Expect mythical costumes, circus acts and workshops for all tastes from belly dancing to light sabre duelling. Embrace your whimsical side and dress up for the occasion! Fantasy Forest also hosts the biggest Fantasy Market in the UK with over 100 stalls selling everything from steampunk goggles to vegan jerky.

2000 Trees festival

4. 2000 Trees Festival at Upcote Farm

7th – 9th July 2022

2000 Trees is a rock, indie and metal festival run by a group of passionate music fans who decided they could create a better event than the profit-hungry music industry could. Still fiercely independent, 2000 Trees has earned many awards and has become a firm favourite with alternative music fans. This year’s line-up sees big names like You Me At Six, Idles and Jimmy Eat World head to Upcote Farm.

Group of people in wet suits and swimming hats entering a lake to race

5. Cotswold Big Swim Festival

18th June 2022

It’s not all about the music, why not take part in the Cotswold Big Swim Festival, just a stone’s throw from our lodges at Watermark? Open water swimming has many mental and physical health benefits, and the Big Swim Festival at Cotswold Water Park is a great event for beginners to give the sport a try in a fun festival atmosphere. You can register in advance for the 1 or 2.4 mile events, or simply turn up and enjoy the spectacle, music and food with the family.

Group of dancers in festival gear

6. Soul Circus

19th – 21st August

Top of our must-visit festivals in the Cotswolds is Soul Circus – a wellbeing, yoga and arts fest in the hills of Elmore. Take part in astral projection and aerial workshops; cacao ceremonies and comedy; massage and meditation; burlesque and blindfolded yoga. Then let loose and party the night away with cocktails to music acts such as Mike Skinner, the Cuban Brothers and DJ Yoda. Locally sourced good-for-you food is on the menu at the Soul Café so you can return to work feeling nourished in mind, body and soul.

Classical music concert inside a church

7. Tetbury Music Festival

24th September – 2nd October 2022

A programme of classical concerts takes place at the end of the summer in the beautiful old town of Tetbury. The week of fine music is a wonderful way to see internationally acclaimed musicians in an early Georgian Gothic church. The concerts include lectures and interviews to share deeper insight into the great works performed. The 2022 programme includes popular recitals of Mozart, Elgar, Schumann, Vaughan Williams, Brahms and Mendelssohn, so there’ll be familiar pieces for everyone to enjoy.

Spit roast being cooked outdoors with apples

8. Daylesford Harvest Festival

17th September 2022

Daylesford Organic Farm’s annual Harvest Festival is always a treat, set in their picturesque Market Garden. To celebrate the yields of the season the festival is a feast of organic produce. Artisan food stalls, live music and traditional crafts are yours to enjoy with a firm focus on sustainability. This day-long event makes for an ideal family activity during your stay at Watermark.

Female singer playing guitar on stage in red dress

9. Cheltenham Jazz Festival

April 27th – May 2nd

Sister event to the Cheltenham Science, Music and Literature festivals, the Jazz festival is one of the UK’s leading jazz events, back after a 2-year hiatus. Of all the festivals in the Cotswolds this summer, this one is probably the best-known, attracting artists such as Emile Sandé, Gregory Porter, Gabrielle and Jamie Cullum. With other big names from the world of jazz, blues and world music, the Cheltenham Jazz Festival takes place over May Day Bank Holiday.

Whichever festivals in the Cotswolds best suit your style, using our luxury lakeside lodges in South Cerney as a base will make the whole experience a breeze, with absolutely zero need to pitch a tent! You can browse our available properties and book here.

Hot tub on decking next to a lake on a warm day

Hot-tub holidays in the Cotswolds

By | Blogs

Planning a hot tub holiday in the Cotswolds?

A stay in the Cotswolds is always pretty-near perfect as far as we’re concerned. But one thing that always makes it feel even more special is having a hot tub in your holiday accommodation! There’s something about a soak in that warm, bubbly water that seems to instantly melt away any stresses and strains and make you feel blissfully relaxed.

In fact, did you know there are proven health benefits to using a hot tub? As well as relieving stress, the warmth of the water and the massaging effect of the bubbles can ease aches and pains, soothe muscle tension, promote sleep and even burn calories!

Whether you’re planning a getaway with friends, a family break or a romantic retreat for two, if you’re looking for a holiday home with a hot tub in the Cotswolds, we’ve got quite the line-up to choose from here at Watermark.

Lakeside Properties

The Watermark Lakes are part of the Cotswold Water Park – a totally unique environment spanning forty square miles and nestled within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Our six lakes are home to more than 375 waterside properties, and with styles ranging from family-friendly to pure luxury, there’s something to tick everyone’s boxes. If a hot tub is on your list of must-haves, you won’t be disappointed…

Open plan interior with contemporary decor, high ceilings and a teal sofa

44 Summer Lake

Premier Prestige Lodge

Occupying a prime location on the peaceful and picturesque Summer Lake, this detached lodge is simply stunning – inside and out. The open-plan living area is on the first floor and enjoys incredible vistas across the water, and down on the lower deck you’ll find your own hot tub with a state-of-the-art gazebo. The retractable shades give you sun protection and extra privacy, while the LED lighting system allows you to create the perfect ambience to suit your mood.

Discover 44 Summer Lake
living room interior with large L shape sofa and windows overlooking a lake

42 Summer Lake

Premier Prestige Lodge

Also boasting stunning views and an ‘upside down’ layout to make the most of its surroundings, 42 Summer Lake is perfect for friends, family or couples. The private first-floor balcony is an ideal spot to watch the sunset over the water, before heading down to the hot tub to savour a soak under the stars.

Discover 42 Summer Lake
Hot tub on decking next to a lake on a warm day

35 The Landings

Premier Prestige Lodge

Situated right on the water’s edge, this four-bedroom lodge features a fully gated private deck complete with a comfortable space for al fresco dining and a hot tub that looks out over the lake.

Discover 35 The Landings
Hot tub on decking next to outdoor dining table with umbrella

14 Windrush Lake

Classic Lodge

If you’re holidaying with the kids and maybe a four-legged family member too, 14 Windrush Lake gives you everything you could possibly need – and then some. During the day, make the most of the spacious open-plan living area or the private decking and its outdoor games, then once the kids are tucked up at night, it’s time for the grown-ups to indulge in a soak in the private hot tub.

Discover 14 Windrush Lake

Country Escapes

In addition to our lakeside properties, we also offer a number of holiday homes in the breathtaking Cotswolds countryside, many of which combine traditional period features with the ultimate in modern luxury – your very own hot tub.

Hot tub under a gazebo in an English country garden

1 Cross Trees Cottages

Country House, Kempsford

If a country retreat is your bag, you’ll love this 17th-century cottage in the tranquil village of Kempsford. The house itself strikes just the right balance of classic details and contemporary style, while the private garden is enclosed by a wall of iconic Cotswold stone and features an inflatable hot tub with ambient lighting for after-dark dips.

Discover 1 Cross Trees Cottages
Hot tub under a gazebo in an English country garden

12 Milton Street

Country House, Fairford

The market town of Fairford is situated in the Cotswold hills on a stretch of the River Coln and is famous for its hosting of the Royal International Air Tattoo, the biggest military air show in the world, every July. Right in the heart of the town is 12 Milton Street, a beautifully refurbished 18th-century cottage with exposed beams, a lovely garden room and a walled hot-tub area tucked away at the bottom of the garden.

Discover 12 Milton Street
English lawn and country house on a summer's day

Dancers Cottage

Country House, Nr Southrop

Dancers Cottage is a stunning barn conversion and one of just four properties in a quaint hamlet situated between the Cotswold villages of Eastleach and Southrop. Perfectly located for lovers of country walks and riverside ambles, it sleeps up to 14 and boasts a large private garden with a six-person inflatable hot tub.

Discover Dancers Cottage

This is just a selection of the properties we have on offer for hot-tub holidays in the Cotswolds! To browse all of our properties and check availability, check out our holiday planner.

CuBlack flat coated retriever in a beautiful purple lavender field.

Dog-friendly days out in the Cotswolds

By | Blogs

If you’re looking for a dog-friendly destination in the UK, look no further than the Cotswolds. As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the whole region is a veritable haven for walkers and their faithful friends – but perhaps it will surprise you to learn that there’s more dog-friendly fun to be had in the region than walking alone!

Many of our lodges allow guests to bring pets, so we’ve compiled a round-up of some of our favourite places to go when you’re holidaying in the Cotswolds with your dog.

Batsford Arboretum

Located near the historic market town of Moreton-in-Marsh, Batsford Arboretum is a gorgeous botanical garden that spans 56 acres and offers incredible views across the Evenlode Valley. No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll be greeted by a spectacular seasonal display of flowers, trees and shrubs, and dogs are welcome to accompany you as you wander the grounds.

A small group of people with dogs walking through a park with dogs in autumn

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

When it comes to world-famous tree gardens, it’s safe to say we’re spoilt for choice here in the Cotswolds! Westonbirt is another spectacular setting and home to more than 2500 different tree species from all over the world. Dogs are allowed off the lead for a run in Silk Wood and are welcome to join you on The Downs on a lead.

Dog looking out of a steam train window

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway

This volunteer-run heritage railway allows you and your well-behaved dog to travel a 28-mile round trip through some of the Cotswolds’ most picturesque scenery and quaint villages. Its steam and diesel trains run throughout the week between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway, and a journey in one of the carriages is like stepping back in time. For obvious reasons, the buffet car is out of bounds for canine customers!

man standing on the bank of a river fishing with his dog

Bibury Trout Farm

If you’re a would-be angler and fancy trying your hand at catching your supper, Bibury Trout Farm should be on your list. Set in the historic village of Bibury, this working trout farm (England’s oldest, no less) features a beginners’ fishery from March to October – though do check the website for exact dates and times before you travel. All equipment and a demonstration are provided, and dogs-on-leads are welcome to cheer you on from the banks of the river. You can even hire a barbecue if you’d like to cook your catch and dine al fresco!

CuBlack flat coated retriever in a beautiful purple lavender field.

Cotswold Lavender

Another spectacular setting for paw-fect pictures is Cotswold Lavender: a third-generation family farm just south of the charming village of Broadway. From mid-June, the farm’s lavender crop spans over 90 acres and is breathtakingly beautiful. Visitors are welcome to wander the fields with dogs on a lead, and you can also visit the distillery to see how the harvested lavender becomes lavender essential oil. There’s a shop too, selling the farm’s popular range of lavender gifts and toiletries – all of which are made with the beautifully aromatic oil.

Dog-friendly restaurants in the Cotswolds

You’ll never struggle to find somewhere dog-friendly to dine when you’re in the Cotswolds! There are so many pubs, cafes and restaurants that welcome dogs, and some go even further and roll out the red carpet for them! Here are a few of our favourites:

Small black dog in a basket

The Red Lion, Castle Eaton

Positioned right on the banks of the River Thames (so perfect for a mid-walk pitstop) is The Red Lion at Castle Eaton – a popular pub that strikes the perfect balance of cosy country retreat and contemporary gastropub. A well-stocked gin bar, an impressive wine list and a unique indoor/outdoor dining patio are just a few of this pub’s many attractions.

Three women at a pub table with two dogs

The Seven Tuns, Chedworth

A 17th-century village pub that’s been tastefully modernised and is famed for having the best wine cellar in the region, a selection of real ales and a menu that’s packed full of locally sourced, seasonal produce. And of course, a warm welcome for dogs!

Old English pub exterior on a sunny day

The Bell, Sapperton

Sapperton is a charming village situated between Stroud and Cirencester, and at its heart is this multi-award-winning pub. Described as “idyllic” by The Times, it has something for every season; cosy fires in the winter and a beautiful garden for al fresco dining in the summer. Dogs aren’t the only animal welcomed here – there’s even ‘horse parking’ on site!

Cotswold pub exterior next to a road

Duke of Wellington, Bourton-on-the-Water

When it comes to quintessential Cotswolds villages, Bourton is one of the jewels in the region’s crown. And nestled right in the centre is the Duke of Wellington – an ideal choice to sit back and soak in views of the River Windrush while enjoying a bite to eat. Your dog will be greeted by friendly staff, fresh water and biscuits, while you’ll get to choose from a delicious range of British pub grub.

White dog sitting on steps to pub entrance

Gardeners Arms, Tewkesbury

Situated in the lovely village of Alderton, this 16th-century pub is surrounded by idyllic countryside (perfect for walks) and has a reputation far and wide for treating dogs like valued customers. Resident dog Teddy is often front of house to give other dogs a warm welcome, and you’ll be greeted warmly too by both Teddy and the human staff.

The well-stocked bar is complemented by a varied menu of home-cooked delights, and the bespoke ‘Yappetisers’ menu includes tempting treats for dogs. Teddy’s recommendation? The Quarter Hounder, followed by doggy ice cream and a ‘pupcake’!

Dog-friendly accomodation in the Cotswolds

Looking for dog-friendly holiday accommodation in the Cotswolds? Many of the country properties and lakeside lodges here at Watermark welcome pets, and they all make an excellent base for exploring the Cotswolds with your four-legged friend.

If you choose one of our lakeside retreats, you can look forward to being nestled right in the heart of the Cotswold Water Park: a stunning wetlands landscape with no shortage of activities for your human contingent and miles and miles of scenic walks for you to enjoy with your canine companion. The source of the River Thames is just down the road from us in Kemble, so you’ll also be able to take in some leisurely walks along the Thames Path, which snakes through some of the loveliest Cotswolds villages and towns, including Cricklade, Castle Eaton and Lechlade.

Spring is a glorious time to stay in the Cotswolds – and we still have limited availability in our dog-friendly properties! Contact us now to enquire

Table laid with plates of food shot from above

8 things to do in the Cotswolds this Easter

By | Blogs

Hooray – spring has well and truly sprung and Easter is on the horizon! March and April are absolutely glorious months to be in the Cotswolds; the quaint villages burst into all the beautiful colours of spring flowers, the iconic rolling hills look positively picturesque, and the season’s wildlife begins to awake from its winter slumber.

If you’re joining us at Watermark for the holidays you might like to plan in a few seasonal activities, so here are some of our family-friendly favourite things to do in the Cotswolds this Easter (and one that’s just for the grown-ups too).

The best bit? They’re all just a stone’s throw from our holiday homes in Cirencester.

Vintage station sign at the railway station at Cheltenham Racecourse things to do in the cotswolds

1. Cheltenham Racecourse: The April Meeting

The action-packed April Meeting at Cheltenham just so happens to fall in the Easter holidays this year, on the 13th and 14th April. It’s a great opportunity to make a day at the races a family affair!

Entry for under 18s is free and, in addition to the thrills on the racecourse itself, there’s an array of complimentary entertainment for kids. From rosette making to bouncy castles and FREE membership to the Junior Jumpers’ Club, there’s no shortage of fun to be had!

Cheltenham Racecourse is a 30-minute drive from our lodges at Watermark.

Footpath through the trees Westonbirt arboretum showing things to do in the Cotswolds

2. Westonbirt Arboretum

Westonbirt is one of the most famous tree gardens in the world and one of our favourite places to visit all year round. This Easter, families can enjoy all the fresh air and fun the arboretum has to offer, along with two FREE holiday activities: Westonbirt Treasures, which sends visitors on a captivating journey around the arboretum, and The Colours of Spring, a scavenger hunt that culminates in children designing their own flowers at the on-site learning centre.

Westonbirt Arboretum is a 30-minute drive from our lodges at Watermark.

New born lambs on a farm in springtime showing things to do in the Cotswolds

3. Lambing at Cotswold Farm Park

Another firm favourite for many of our guests is the Cotswolds Farm Park. Up until 24th April you can book tickets for live lambing – a rare opportunity to see some of the farm’s newest and most adorable four-legged friends come into the world, and it’s pretty special! Alternatively, if you’re visiting later in spring, you could get involved with bottle feeding the lambs and kids.

Cotswold Farm Park is a 40-minute drive from Watermark lodges.

tropical bird wading in the river things to do in the cotswolds

4. Easter Duck Trail at Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Slimbridge is always a fun-packed day out and springtime is no exception. The season’s new arrivals include swallows, house martins and summer warblers, and there’s a whole host of other special sightings to be had – kingfishers, cranes and ibis, to name a few.

Throughout the Easter holidays Slimbridge is running several events to keep the whole family happy. The Easter Duck Trail (9th to 24th April) is sure to be a hit with young visitors, while a family-friendly wildlife photography course on 13th April is a great opportunity to improve your camera skills or try something new. For teens, a Young Birder ID workshop is taking place on the 15th and 22nd April.

Slimbridge Wetland Centre is a 45-minute drive from Watermark lodges.

Poster showing the cast of the Wizard of Oz stage production showing things to do in the Cotswolds

5. The Wizard of Oz at The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury

A panto at Easter? Oh yes it is! An all-singing, all-dancing production of The Wizard of Oz is heading to The Roses Theatre this April, starring none other than Kerry Katona as The Wicked Witch of the West.

Tickets are currently available on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th April, with two performances each day.

The Roses Theatre is a 45-minute drive from Watermark lodges.

A flock of flamingoes in the water at Birdland showing things to do in the cotswolds

6. Easter Fun at Birdland

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds, Birdland’s ‘cracking’ Easter timetable includes trails, quizzes and daily talks and shows that are bursting with fun facts about all things ornithology. The park are expecting dozens of eggs to hatch over the holidays, so if you’re very lucky you might get to witness the arrival of some brand-new chicks.

Birdland is a 30-minute drive from Watermark lodges.

Sunset at Cirencester park

7. Easter Woodland Adventure Trail at Cirencester Park

Cirencester Park plays host to UK Adventure Trails’ egg hunt for the second year, and it’s well worth a visit. Adventurers young and old will love exploring the six themed zones and racing to locate the giant eggs that hold the clues. With plenty of fun photo opportunities along the way, this looks set to be an event to remember. From 9th to 23rd April.

Cirencester Park is a 20-minute drive from Watermark lodges.

Table laid with plates of food shot from above

8. Daylesford Chef’s Table Easter Sunday Roast

This one’s exclusively for the grown-ups! This Easter Sunday (17th April), sit back and savour a glass of fine wine while Daylesford’s talented tutors share their top tips for creating the ultimate Sunday roast. They’ll demonstrate key recipes, classic trimmings and some innovative twists on traditional dishes. But of course, the best bit is that you get to tuck in to a three-course Easter lunch like no other. And you won’t have to wash up, either!

Daylesford Organic is a 20-minute drive from Watermark lodges.

Now you’ve got your list of things to do in the cotswolds it’s time to plan your trip! We still have limited availability for Easter getaways. Contact us now to start planning your spring staycation!

Photo. of outdoor tables and seating

6 of the Best Cotswold Beer Gardens

By | Blogs

As summer approaches we can’t help but let our minds wander to the many fine beer gardens available in this lovely part of the world.

Accidentally stumbling across a pub’s secret-garden on a warm day is of course a wonderful experience, but if you want to make the most of your Watermark trip a bit of pre-planning and advance booking will put your mind at ease, especially in the busy summer months when competition for an al-fresco table is strong.

The pandemic’s restrictions have meant that many pubs refurbished their outdoor spaces so you’ll be absolutely spoiled for choice.

Here’s a shortlist of our favourite Cotswold beer gardens:

Photo. of outdoor tables and seating

1. The Lamb Inn, Crawley

A very bohemian, tiered courtyard garden awaits you at The Lamb Inn near Witney.

Sheepskin rugs, outdoor sofas and hanging lanterns make this a very civilised spot for a jug of Pimm’s. The eclectic exterior decor might convince you you’re in Bali not Blighty!

We visited on a glorious summer’s day and the bamboo canopy was a welcome relief from the midday heat. The food here is excellent and the clientele was a happy mixture of young families out to lunch and couples with cocktails. With outdoor heaters you’d be comfortable here well after the evening chill descends.

The Lamb Inn is a 40 minute drive from our lodges at Watermark.

Photo showing walled English country garden and vegetable patch

2. The Radnor Arms, Coleshill

In the quaint Natural Trust village of Coleshill lies the Radnor Arms – an idyllic spot for a post-stroll supper. The chefs here use organic veg from the fields of Coleshill Organic Veg Farm that are right next to the pub, so the journey from farm to fork is satisfyingly short. Meat and dairy products are from small artisan producers, and you can choose from an excellent range of beer and cider from local breweries.

The outdoor area has picnic benches and a firepit to stave off nightfall shivers, although the pub’s interior is so delightful you might be better off heading there for last orders.

The Radnor Arms is a 20 minute drive from our lodges at Watermark.

Photo showing old English pub on a sunny day with gravestones in the foreground

3. The Woolpack Inn, Slad

Everyone knows a pint tastes better after a hike, so if a pub on a walk is what you’re looking for the Woolpack Inn is a great choice.

This tiny pub has a beautiful beer garden tucked into the Slad Valley. A circular walk from Main Street takes you through the Frith Wood Nature Reserve, onto Laurie Lee Wood with views of Stroud and the Forest of Dean, and back to the pub for that well-earned drink.

Cider with Rosie author Laurie Lee was a patron here, and so there’s plenty of memorabilia inside to peruse while you order.

If you’re lucky you might time your visit with the Woolpack’s Summer music festival.

The Woolpack is a 30 minute drive from our lodges at Watermark.

Gastro pub interior with chairs and benches looking out onto an outdoor deck

4. The Old Boathouse, South Cerney

Just a stone’s throw from your lodge is The Old Boathouse on the waterpark in South Cerney. Being able to walk out to dinner is one of those rare treats that makes a holiday so special!

The Old Boathouse is a modern eatery serving classic English dishes. The pared-back lakeside deck is an ideal spot from which to watch the wildlife.

The Old Boathouse is a 10 minute walk from our lodges at Watermark.

Photo of an outdoor firepit, old barn and bunting on a summer's day

5. The Holford Arms, Tetbury

Head here for a pint in the sunshine after a long walk around Westonbirt Arboretum. The Holford Arms is situated within 8 acres of countryside with its own kitchen gardens, cider orchards, poly-tunnels, and vineyard. Their ever-changing specials board reflects which fruit, veg and herbs are growing seasonally, so expect good grub!

Naturally there’s plenty of outdoor space here, plus a covered terrace strung with fairy lights in case of drizzle.

The pub won a Gold Award at Sawday’s England and Wales Pub of the Year for Local, Seasonal & Organic Produce 2018 – 2019.

The Holford Arms is a 30 minute drive from our lodges at Watermark.

Aerial view over English country pub and gardens

6. The Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach

The Weatsheaf is the kind of pub to bring an American tourist to because the well-kept cottage gardens here couldn’t be more English! The quaint 17th-century coaching inn is clad in Virginia creeper and inside it’s oozing with unpretentious luxury and heritage. The menu is excellent – it’s known as one of the best restaurants in the Cotswolds – with lots of game and seafood dishes as well as a good vegan offering.

The tiered gardens have been lovingly designed with perfumed planters, blankets and parasols – the perfect spot to enjoy a chilled bottle of rosé and escape the sun under dappled shade.

The Wheatsheaf Inn is a 20 minute drive from our lodges at Watermark.

Aerial view of a white horse made from chalk in the hillside

Top 5 National Trust Days Out in the Cotswolds

By | Blogs

We’ve compiled a list of our favourite must-see National Trust properties and parks in the region to add to your itinerary on your next stay at Watermark.

1. Dyrham Park

This magnificent 17th-century house and garden is set in 270 acres of ancient parkland. Built from fortunes made from the empire, Dyrham is one of the most notable stately homes of its age. Its Baroque interior is a feast for the eyes, with fine art and pottery collections reflecting the refined tastes of 1600s diplomat, William Blathwayt. Blathwayt who was born into a modest London family, climbed to the top of Britain’s elite through working in colonial administration and took over the renovation of the property, transforming a down-at-heel Tudor home into an impressive country house estate after marrying into the Wynter family.

Today the beautifully preserved house is open to explore with regular guided tours, parkland walks, and seasonal events such as outdoor theatre and Easter egg hunts.

Dyrham Park is a 45 minute drive from our lodges at Watermark.

Visit Dyrham Park
People walking in gardens in front of a grand English stately home

2. Newark Park

A trip to Newark Park is to take a trip to a bygone era, in a lovely unspoilt area of Gloucestershire that has barely been touched by modern life. Overlooking the Ozleworth Valley and on to the Mendips, the sprawling estate – once home to a deer park for Tudor hunting parties – is an inviting place from which to explore the valley and woodlands. The quaint tiered gardens and parkland are bristling with nature at every time of year with an ever-changing landscape of seasonal flowers such as ‘snowdrops, aconites and daffodils, wildlife garlic, summer borders and autumn cyclamen.‘

The house itself has been lovingly restored in the 1970s and 80s by a Texan architect and so the interior, filled with relics, retains a very homely feel.

Newark Park is a 40 minute drive from our lodges at Watermark.

Visit Newark Park
Roman villa ruins in a countryside setting

3. Chedworth Roman Villa

Nestled in woodland in a beautiful Cotswold valley is the National Trust’s Chedworth Roman Villa – one of the most impressive Roman Villas in Britain, and only rediscovered in Victorian times.

The ruin is a great example of Roman tile, spectacular mosaics, hypocaust heating systems and bath house rooms, and in the small museum you can see a range of artefacts that were found in the villa.

There are also some lovely walks from Chedworth, along the River Coln or following the disused railway line, tunnels and woodlands that are now managed by the Gloucester Wildlife trust.

There are plenty of events throughout the year too, from Gladiator displays to mosaic tile workshops.

Chedworth Roman Villa is a 25 minute drive from our lodges at Watermark.

Visit Chedworth Roman Villa
A summer meadow in front of a 17th century stone grandstand building

4. Lodge Park and Sherborne Park Estate

A bit of pre-planning and advance booking for Lodge Park and the surrounding Bridgeman landscape is a must, as tickets are not available for purchase on the day. Attending a guided tour is the only way to see the unique 17th-century grandstand – the only remaining structure of its kind – and it’s well worth the visit.

If you can book on a tour the Grade I listed grandstand at Lodge park you’ll discover the unique ashlar stone exterior with its classical arched portico and viewing platform built for watching deer coursing. The National Trust restored interior shows how the building would have looked in its 17th-century heyday before many dodgy renovations and conversions in the years since left the building’s structural integrity in question.

The adjacent Sherbourne park estate however is open to visit as you please, offering several walks through varied countryside. The working estate is home to an abundance of wildlife such as fallow and roe deer, badgers and foxes and the ever-changing landscape makes visiting in any season a delight.

Lodge Park is a 25 minute drive from our lodges at Watermark.

Visit Lodge Park
Aerial view of a white horse made from chalk in the hillside

5. White Horse Hill

Sweeping vistas, an iron age hill fort, the highest point in Oxfordshire and the small matter of the 3000-year-old chalk stallion that gives White Horse Hill its name makes walking here a must-do on your trip to Watermark.

Folklore and legends are rife in these parts, and it has been believed that on Dragon Hill George slew the mythical beast in the shadow of White Horse Hill. It is said that where the dragon fell, its poisonous blood kept the grass from growing to this day!

Whether you come here for the stories or for the landscape, it’s a great trip out and only 30 minutes from your lodge at Watermark.

Uffington White Horse is a 30 minute drive from our lodges at Watermark.

Visit White Horse Hill

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.

 

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.

 

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 Watermark – the perfect holiday homes from which to experience the best of the Cotswolds.

 

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 for Cotswolds food 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.

 

Cotswolds food 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 Cotswolds food while staying at Watermark, 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 that Cotswolds food 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

British 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.