Lake camping in Cotswolds AONB

From hilltop tent pitches to hidden woodland wonders, the Cotswolds is always photo-ready.

96% (134 reviews)
96% (134 reviews)

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Lake camping in Cotswolds AONB guide


Few areas of the English countryside are as picturesque as the Cotswolds—think sloping green hills and patchwork farmland, all dotted with honey-coloured stone villages and farm shops around every corner. Its location in central southwest England makes it easy to reach from many parts of the UK too, and a destination that's as perfect for a weekend away as it is for a week’s holiday. Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and peppered with celebrity homes, this is the go-to for a chic country getaway. Hire a classic car to drive the winding country lanes, hop out to enjoy hillside hikes or bike rides, then tuck into farm-fresh produce at a traditional pub before settling into a farm stay campsite. Some classic campsites simply make use of a fallow field for the summer with composting toilets or temporary facilities, while others are working farms creating more permanent camping grounds with hardstanding pitches and electric hookups. Summer is peak season, so book campsites well in advance or consider visiting in spring or fall to escape the crowds.

Where to go

Central Cotswolds

Cheltenham, Cirencester, and Stroud are the Cotswolds’ largest towns, where you can take your pick of culture or countryside. Browse the artisan boutiques and farmers markets, relax at one of Cheltenham’s famous spas, then set out to hike through the Five Valleys or enjoy water sports on the lakes of the Cotswold Water Park.

North Cotswolds

The rural landscapes of the north Cotswolds are hiking heaven. Miles of walking and cycling trails surround Winchcombe, while Chipping Campden is the starting point of the 102-mile Cotswold Way national trail. Nearby, Broadway is the “Jewel of the Cotswolds,” and it’s an easy detour to visit Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.


The Oxfordshire towns of Bourton-on-the-Water and Burford are Cotswolds favourites, where half-timbered houses, thatched-roof cottages, and country pubs lie along the banks of the River Windrush. Stop by the market town of Chipping Norton, picnic on the grounds of the magnificent Blenheim Palace, then check into a quiet rural camping ground or glampsite.

Somerset and Wiltshire

The South Cotswolds combines rural pleasures with historical gems. To the south, the Roman spa town of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage City, and the Wiltshire towns of Chippenham, Lacock, and Castle Combe are undeniably photogenic. Camping is equally scenic—spend a night in a luxury yurt or glamping pod, or pitch your tent at an organic farm.

Family Camping in the Cotswolds

Wherever you choose to camp in the Cotswolds, we’re confident that your kids won’t complain. We know the Cotswolds is a great family camping destination because we've been there, tramping the footpaths, touring the farm parks, and discovering the best of the area with our own little ones in tow. Farm stays can be a real hit—kids love the chance to see farm animals up close, and it can be a real education too—but if you’re on the hunt for the best family campsites in the Cotswolds, then you'll love the places recommended right here on Hipcamp.

The Prettiest Villages in the Cotswolds

Visiting these charming spots is almost obligatory when camping in the Cotswolds. Bourton-on-the-Water is an utter charmer, with a wealth of restaurants, tea rooms, and shops, as well as a river for you to enjoy a picnic by. The many small bridges over the gently flowing River Windrush, which runs through the heart of the village, gives the town a Venetian feel, and there are plenty of camping and glamping sites closeby.

It’s not the only one either: Burford, Chedworth, Bibury and Castle Combe will also have you reaching for the camera. And then there are the timeless twin villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter. More attractive than their names suggest, a mile-long path between them runs beside the River Eye, the perfect place to pause and take in the beauty. Rose-clad cottages and old mills characterise the two villages, where you can visit tea rooms, craft shops, and museums. If you’re enjoying your taste of idyllic middle England, there are yet more honey hues in the well-known market towns of Chipping Campden, Stow on the Wold, and Moreton-in-Marsh.

Top Attractions in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds has its fair share of palaces and manor houses, many open to the public. Perhaps the grandest is the 17th-century Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and home to the Duke of Marlborough. Step back a little further in history with a visit to Sudeley Castle. Within historic Winchcombe, the castle makes for another great day out thanks to its gardens, 15th-century ruins, and guides to share the history (not to mention a café). More royal gardens can be explored at the Highgrove Royal Gardens, part of the Highgrove Estate, as well as at Corsham Court, a former royal manor house with gardens designed by Capability Brown. For yet more impressive planting and a world-class collection of trees, visit one of the Cotswolds two arboretums: Westonbirt or Batsford.

While the Cotswolds are famous for offering a taste of the quiet life, there’s also action and adventure—if you know where to look. Apart from the many opportunities for walking and exploring, there’s the Cotswolds Water Park, where watersports, open-water swimming, and fishing are on offer, and the 417 Bike Park, home to mountain biking for all abilities. Families also love the Cotswold Farm Park and the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens. And if your camping holiday in the Cotswolds coincides with the Spring bank holiday, you could head to Cooper’s Hill for its bizarre annual cheese-rolling competition. This age-old event sees competitors chase a Double Gloucester cheese down a steep slope with the winner claiming the cheese.

The Cotswolds does not include any cities within its boundaries, but the interesting cities and larger towns around its edges include Cheltenham for its regency buildings, Bath for Roman and regency era architecture, Gloucester for its cathedral, Cirencester for its Roman museum, and Stratford-upon-Avon for its connections to William Shakespeare.

Top 5 Things to Do in the Cotswolds

From countryside walks to cosy stately homes, there’s an activity for all Cotswold campers. Here are just five to give you a head start.

  1. Enjoy a picnic at picturesque Bourton-on-the-Water—and don’t forget the Double Gloucester.
  2. See the sunrise over the fields on the Cotswold Way.
  3. Feast on local produce at a Cotswolds gastropub or cook up a Gloucester Old Spot pork sausage on the campfire.
  4. Visit one of the Cotswolds' stately homes and castles.
  5. Capture a village’s honey-coloured homes on camera.

Top towns in and near Cotswolds AONB

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