Set above the River Isbourne, Winchcombe is arguably the hidden jewel in the Cotswold crown. The town became prosperous from its Abbey (one of the largest Benedictine monasteries in England), its wool trade and as a producer of tobacco. Although the Abbey (and the tobacco!) have gone there is still much to see of historic Winchcombe. If you take a stroll along Gloucester Street through Abbey Terrace to Hailes Street and then back along Chandos Street and down North Street you will see the wealth of the town reflected in many of the buildings as well as in the surrounding countryside.
No visit to Winchcombe would be complete without seeing four of the most prestigeous historical sites in the area. Sudeley Castle (home of Queen Katherine Parr up to her death in 1548), Hailes Abbey (a Cistercian House founded in 1246 and owned by English Heritage), Stanway House (a Jacobean manor house with world-famous fountain) and Belas Knap (a Neolithic long barrow dating from circa. 3800 BC) all offer a fascinating insight into the life of our forbears.
For the more mechanically minded the GWR Steam Railway (which runs from Toddington through Winchcombe to Cheltenham Racecourse) provides a fantastic fun day out for the family and the Prescott Hill Climb is home to one of the world's most prestigeous motor racing venues.
Known as the walking capital of the Cotswolds and with "Walkers are Welcome" status Winchcombe sits at the intersection of the Cotswold Way, the Gloucestershire Way, the Wardens Way, the Windrush Way and the new Winchcombe Way. The Winchcombe Welcomes Walkers website has a wealth of information designed to tempt you to take anything from a gentle stroll to a vigorous long-distance trek.
In addition, the 2015 series of Guided Town Walks, which are supported by the Winchcombe Business Forum, start again on Easter Sunday and run until October. They take place at 11 am and 2.30pm every Sunday, starting at the TIC; they are for anyone, visitor or resident, who is interested in the fascinating history of Winchcombe – from ancient Saxon Borough to WW2 and beyond. Click here for more information.
When it comes to eating and drinking you will be spoiled for choice. Winchcombe has "Fair Trade" status and has a mouthwatering selection of top quality restaurants, a wine bar, pubs, tea shops and a contemporary delicatessan/coffee shop. So whether you want a quick snack or a leisurely meal there's plenty to choose from.
With a vibrant Music & Arts Festival in May/June, a Country Show in August and a Christmas Festival in December the Town also has a busy cultural and commercial schedule.
So .... as you can see there's a great deal to experience in this lovely hidden jewel in the Cotswold crown.