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Portfolio > On Location (UK) 1 > Cotswolds                                                                               Click on an image below to reveal enlarged version

Cotswolds, UK

The Cotswolds is an area in south-central, West Midlands and South West England comprising the Cotswold Hills, a range of rolling hills that rise from the meadows of the upper Thames to an escarpment, known as the Cotswold Edge, above the Severn Valley and Evesham Vale. The area is defined by the bedrock of jurassic limestone that creates a type of grassland habitat rare in the UK and that is quarried for the golden-coloured Cotswold stone. It contains unique features derived from the use of this stone; the predominantly rural landscape contains stone-built villages, historical towns and stately homes and gardens.

 

Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966, the Cotswolds covers 787 square miles (2,038 km2) and, after the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks, is the third largest protected landscape in England and the largest AONB. Its boundaries are roughly 25 miles (40 km) across and 90 miles (140 km) long, stretching southwest from just south of Stratford-upon-Avon to just south of Bath near Radstock. It lies across the boundaries of several English counties; mainly Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and parts of Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. The highest point of the region is Cleeve Hill at 1,083 ft (330 m), just east of Cheltenham. The hills give their name to the Cotswold local government district, formed on 1 April 1974, which is within the county of Gloucestershire. Its main town is Cirencester, where the Cotswold District Council offices are located. The population of the 450-square-mile (1,200 km2) District was about 83,000 in 2011. The much larger area referred to as the Cotswolds encompasses nearly 800 square miles (2,100 km2), over five counties: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, and Worcestershire. The population of the Area of Outstanding Natural 

Beauty was 139,000 in 2016.  A 2017 report on employment within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, stated that the main sources of income were real estate, renting and business activities, manufacturing and wholesale & retail trade repairs. Some 44% of residents were employed in these sectors. Agriculture is also important. Some 86% of the land in the AONB is used for this purpose. The primary crops include barley, beans, rape seed oil and wheat, while the raising of sheep is also important; cows and pigs are also reared. The livestock sector has been declining since 2002, however. According to the 2011 Census data for the Cotswolds, the wholesale and retail trade was the largest employer (15.8% of the workforce), followed by education (9.7%) and health and social work (9.3%). The report also indicates that a relatively higher proportion of residents were working in agriculture, forestry and fishing, accommodation and food services as well as in professional, scientific and technical activities. Unemployment in the Cotswold District was among the lowest in the country. A report in August 2017 showed only 315 unemployed persons, a slight decrease of five from a year earlier.

Tourism

Tourism is a significant part of the economy. The Cotswold District area alone gained over £373 million from visitor spending on accommodation, £157 million on local attractions and entertainments, and about £100m on travel in 2016. In the larger Cotswolds Tourism area, including Stroud, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury, tourism generated about £1 billion in 2016, providing 200,000 jobs. Some 38 million day visits were made to the Cotswold Tourism area that year. Many travel guides direct tourists to Chipping CampdenStow-on-the-WoldBourton-on-the-WaterBroadwayBibury, and Stanton. Some of these locations can be very crowded at times. Roughly 300,000 people visit Bourton per year, for example, with about half staying for a day or less. The area also has numerous public walking trails and footpaths that attract visitors, including the 93-mile (150 km) Cotswold Way (part of the National Trails System) from Bath to Chipping Camden.

Cotswold Stone

Cotswold stone is a yellow oolitic Jurassic limestone. This limestone is rich in fossils, particularly of fossilised sea urchins. When weathered, the colour of buildings made or faced with this stone is often described as honey or golden. The stone varies in colour from north to south, being honey-coloured in the north and north east of the region, as shown in Cotswold villages such as Stanton and Broadway; golden-coloured in the central and southern areas, as shown in Dursley and Cirencester; and pearly white in Bath. The rock outcrops at places on the Cotswold Edge; small quarries are common. The exposures are rarely sufficiently compact to be good for rock-climbing, but an exception is Castle Rock, on Cleeve Hill, near Cheltenham. Due to the rapid expansion of the Cotswolds in order for nearby areas to capitalize on increased house prices, well known ironstone villages, such as Hook Norton, have even been claimed by some to be in the Cotswolds despite lacking key features of Cotswolds villages such as Cotswold stone and are instead built using a deep red/orange ironstone, known locally as Hornton Stone.

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