Fascinating facts about Gloucestershire

  • The River Severn, which runs through Gloucestershire, is the longest river in Britain, at 220 miles (or 354 kilometres).
  • The Cotswolds (the best known part of the county of Gloucestershire) is an “ Area of Outstanding Beauty”  – it is a special landscape which is protected by law so that everyone in the future can enjoy it.
  • There is a big variety of different landscapes in this county, including the Royal Forest of Dean (many miles of woods and picnic sites) Tewkesbury, which has black-and white medieval buildings, and Cheltenham, which has buildings from Regency times, about 1800 (the same sorts of buildings that are in the city of Bath).
  • The Royal Forest of Dean, to the west of the county of Gloucestershire, is next to South Wales.
  • There are three well know cities that form a triangle around the county – Bath, to the west, Oxford, to the east, and Stratford-upon- Avon, to the north.
  • Lots of famous celebrities live in the area, including Kate Winslett, Kate Moss and Alex James.
  • J.K Rowling was brought up in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire from the age of 9.
  • There are many traditional events that still happen in this area. The most famous is the “Cheese Rolling” which takes place on a steep hill near Gloucester each May. Real cheeses are rolled down the hill, and people have to chase down and catch them.  This has been going on for hundreds of years (no –one knows why !).
  • The Gloucester Old Spot is a traditional variety of pig from  this area. It is pale pink, with large black patches (spots). It likes to eat apples, (it’s sometimes called “The Orchard Pig”), and the meat from this variety of pig is very good to eat
  • 2009 is the year in which Gloucestershire will be celebrating it’s culture. We are “Britain’s Capital of Rural Culture” – for up to date information look at

Interesting historical facts on Gloucestershire:

  • Most of the attractive buildings in the Cotswolds area of the county were built at a time when the main industry in the area was wool, from sheep. This made it a very wealthy area for many years.
  • There are two well known castles in Gloucestershire. Sudeley Castle at Winchcombe is associated with King Henry VIII (who had eight wives).  Berkeley Castle was visited by Queen Elizabeth I,  and is a great place to visit.   It is still lived in today by the Berkeley family
  • The first lawnmower was invented by a man from Stroud – one of the early models can be seen today at the Museum in the Park at Stroud.
  • The Romans were in Gloucestershire. There is a saying, “Scratch Gloucestershire and you find Rome”. You can find out about Roman Gloucestershire at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester.
  • Gloucester Cathedral is a very interesting building to visit, and several of the “Harry Potter” films were filmed here. The Cloisters (attached to the main Cathedral building) were made to look like part of Hogwarts School.

Places and attractions to see in Gloucestershire

Birdland Park and Gardens, Bourton-on-the-Water
birdland-park-and-gardensEstablished in 1957, (previously a trout farm and prior to that a Poplar Tree plantation) Birdland is a natural setting inhabited by over 500 birds from around the world, including the only King Penguins in England and over 50 aviaries of parrots, falcons, pheasants, hornbills, toucans, touracos, pigeons, ibis and many more. Tropical, Desert and Toucan Houses are home to the more delicate species.

Rissington Road, Bourton-on-the-Water, Glos, GL54 2BN

Bourton Model Railway, Bourton-on-the-Water
bourton-modelsEnter the world of your childhood dreams with some of the finest operating indoor model railway layouts in the country, covering over 500 square feet. Over 40 British and Continental trains run automatically on three main displays of OO/HO and N gauge, with the unique attraction of visitor control. Follow the trains’ journey through the imaginatively designed scenery of open countryside, mountains, steams, industrial sites and suburbia. Watch day change to night, experience the fun of the fair and generally enjoy the attractive illusion of colour and movement enhanced by many working model accessories.

Bourton Model Railway, Box Bush, High Street, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire. GL54 2AN

Clearwell Caves, Clearwell
As well as entering an extensive natural cave system, when you visit Clearwell Caves you are experiencing some of Britain’s oldest underground mine workings, dating back well over 4500 years.  Walk through impressive caverns created by many generations of Forest people who made their living by mining iron ore and ochre:

* Nine impressive caverns to explore
* Deep Level adventure caving activities
* Blacksmith workshop
* Ochre workshop

Clearwell Caves, Near Coleford, Royal Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, GL16 8JR

Cotswold Farm Park


See an unrivalled collection of rare breeds of British farm animals including sheep, cattle, pigs, goats, horses, poultry and waterfowl. The `Cotswold Lions´ are still bred today, and no visit to the area would be complete without meeting the sheep that made the Cotswolds what you see today. Step into living history with the outdoor and indoor animal displays and daily demonstrations.

Guiting Power, Cheltenham, GL54 5UG

Dean Forest Railway, Lydney

dean-forestThe beautiful and historic Royal Forest of Dean offers many attractions to visitors. The Dean Forest Railway – based near Lydney in Gloucestershire – provides the sight, sounds and smells of travel on a rural branch line from a bygone era. A standard gauge heritage railway operated by steam trains – and the occasional heritage diesel or diesel railcar. The round trip is over 8 miles. Norchard Station has a free museum, gift shop and café.  As well as heritage train services for visitors to the Forest of Dean, the Railway runs special events suitable for all the family and some which will be of interest to Railway Enthusiasts.

Dean Forest Railway, Norchard, Forest Road, Lydney, Gloucestershire GL15 4ET

Gloucester Folk Museum
folk-museumOne of the oldest-established museums dedicated to social history. The collections have been drawn together through mainly gifts from Gloucestershire, and represent one of the most fascinating collections of such material.   Set in Tudor timber-framed buildings, one of which was traditionally associated with the final night of the protestant martyr, Bishop Hooper, the Folk Museum is a complex of rooms on different levels and with a unique ambience that makes it a popular sight for locals and visitors. Behind the chocolate-box facade is a museum which is both larger than seems possible, and constantly surprising. No visit to Gloucestershire is complete without seeing the treasures and curiosities on display here.
A wide range of exhibitions, hands-on activities, events, demonstrations and role play sessions are held throughout the year. There is an attractive cottage garden and a courtyard area for events, often with live animals, and outside games.  Local history, domestic life, crafts, trades and industries from c.1500 to the present, including a Toys and Childhood gallery with hands-on toys and a puppet theatre, the Siege of Gloucester, domestic life, The Portal with interactive quizzes and much more.
Open Tuesday to Saturday all year, 10.00-17.00

99 – 103 Westgate Street, Gloucester GL1 2PG

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
gwrTravel 20 miles from Toddington via Winchcombe to Cheltenham Racecourse, including the 693 yard Greet Tunnel, one of the longest on a preserved railway and offering superb views of the Cotswolds, Malverns and Vale of Evesham.  The line was built to improve through services from Birmingham to Bristol and the West Country. It also carried fruit from the highly productive farming areas both in the Cotswolds and the Vale of Evesham.

The Railway Station, Toddington, GL54 5DT

St Augustines Farm, Arlingham
st-augustinesA real working organic dairy farm in the Severn Vale, St Augustines is a typical dairy farm of over 100 acres where the everyday farm life will go on around you.  Watch the cows being milked in a herringbone parlour every afternoon, talk to the farmer as he works and find out where your milk comes from. Help feed the baby calves and visit the farm animals in the paddocks. Follow the farm trail to see over 50 acres and see our wildlife in its natural habitat. Explore the mini woodland trail. Go back in history and discover a vanished era in our bygones collection.

St. Augustines Farm, Arlingham GL2 7JN
Westonbirt – the National Arboretum, Tetbury
1040045.012.jpgWestonbirt is one of the most spectacular tree gardens in the world. An historical collection of over 3,000 different trees and shrub species many of which are rare or endangered in their native lands. Covering six hundred acres, the arboretum is an inspiring place to relax, get back to nature and indulge your senses.  There are specially designed family friendly activities available, including orienteering, cryptic quizzes and a special play area designed for under fives. In addition there is a year round programme of family events.
Westonbirt is a wonderfully visual environment – full of patterns, forms, colours, shapes and sizes. But to truly appreciate our trees requires the use of all the senses. You only have to watch children to see this!

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Tetbury, GL8 8QS

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge
slim-flamThe birthplace of modern conservation, Slimbridge Wetland Centre is the ideal place to get closer to nature.  Slimbridge is home to an astounding array of wildlife including the world’s largest collection of swans, geese, and ducks.

Activities which take place at regular intervals throughout the year at Slimbridge:

  • Welly Boot Land: Splash, stomp and wade through the water in your wellies at the wet play area for children. Build dams, pump and change the flow of the water, wind round the willow maze and spy from the crow’s nest. Open daily (unless severe frost/freezing weather overnight)
  • Land Rover Safari: Explore the depths of the wild reserve on a Land Rover Safari on selected days from May to October*
  • Visit the Crane School where cranes are being hand reared. 11.30am and 2.30pm daily.
  • Slimbridge is the only place in the UK where you can meet all 6 species of flamingo. Join our daily talk.
  • Join our knowledgable volunteers for a guided walk to discover the grounds of Slimbridge Wetland Centre and its many residents. (walk lasts roughly 1.5 hours). 11am and 2pm
  • Toad Hall demo: meet the frogs, talks and other amphibians in Toad Hall. 2.30pm weekdays and 12.30pm and 2.30pm during weekends and school holidays.
  • Take a walk to the heated Tropical House for a short talk on the amazing tropical wildlife to be found at slimbridge.Learn more about tropics throughout the world.
  • Wildlife inspired films are shown in Slimbridge’s purpose built cinema each day
  • Canoe Safari: Take to the water to discover a wetland trail rich in native plant species and wildlife. Pick up a paddle and step into a canoe for a wonderful wetland adventure.Open every Saturday and Sunday and daily during school holidays (weather permitting) from 11am – 4pm until March 31st. Open daily through the summer**
  • Floodlit bird feeds: From autumn to spring witness the amazing spectacle of our daily commentated wild bird feeds, as Bewick’s Swans return to Slimbridge after their long journey from Arctic Russia in search of warmer weather.
  • You may see regular visitors such as Crinkly with the unusual shaped neck, Dario and Dorcus who usually are the first swans to arrive each year and prefer to hang out at the very front of Swan Lake.

Slimbridge, Gloucestershire GL2 7BT
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