Your Guide to
Stroud, Painswick and Nailsworth
“The spectacular five valleys of Stroud”
The five valleys around Stroud provide some of the most spectacular scenery in the Cotswolds. Picturesque, historic Cotswold stone buildings nestle in the towns and villages which rest amongst the woods and open countryside of these valleys. The author Laurie Lee immortalised the Slad Valley in his beautifully descriptive novel Cider with Rosie.
Stroud is a cultural gem at the heart of these valleys. Its eclectic range of shops champion independent and local artisans which keeps its industrial heritage alive. It is home to former textile mills in the valleys surrounding the town which produce both Wimbledon tennis ball cloth and championship snooker baize. Festivals and events held throughout the year bring Stroud to life, celebrating its history and the talent of the area with artists’ open studios and the Stroud fringe.
The Cotswold Way National Trail runs through this area and Painswick is the mid-point of this 102-mile route. Known as the ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’ this historic wool town is awash with pretty buildings that line the narrow streets and has charm and character in abundance. Surrounded by some of the most glorious countryside in England, Painswick is unquestionably the picture-perfect example of a quintessential Cotswold town.
Nailsworth is nestled in a beautiful, wooded valley at the south-western edge of the Cotswolds. The town has an enticing combination of award-winning restaurants, pubs and cafes, as well as some fabulous independent shops. Its wool milling history has been kept alive by the conversion of many of the mills into museums and arts and crafts shops, giving the town a unique combination of both red-brick and Cotswold stone architecture.
We hope you enjoy your stay in this much-loved part of the Cotswolds. To help you plan your days we’ve put together a collection of our favourite experiences, so you can make the most of Stroud, Painswick and Nailsworth.
A beautiful place to visit at any time of year, the gardens at Painswick are the UK’s only complete surviving example of the rococo style. Discover the hidden valley and woodland walks, explore magical follies, and let children enjoy the play area and its maze. It is well-known for its snowdrop displays but there is something spectacular on offer each time you visit.
The spire of St Mary’s Church sits high above the town and is a stunning centrepiece. A priest has been in situ at Painswick since 1086 when the Domesday Book began its records. Today it is best known for the legend of its 99 yew trees in the churchyard, the tale tells that a 100th tree shall never grow as the devil will tear it down.
Designed by local architect Benjamin Bucknall, this Victorian Gothic revival mansion has lain abandoned since 1868. After 16 years of building work, it has been carefully preserved but has never been finished. Around the Grade I listed mansion, the park is home to lovely, circular woodland walks, lakes and ponds and also a children’s adventure trail which even has a zipline.
Grab your kites, blankets and picnic baskets and head out onto the Commons. It is a beautiful area to enjoy the panoramic views and wonderful walks and is known for the best sunrises and sunsets you can see in the Cotswolds. This Site of Special Scientific Interest is home to a huge variety of wildflowers and rare butterflies. They can be seen from spring until autumn, and you will also find freely grazing cows and sheep.
Several walks pass the Painswick Beacon which is the site of an ancient Iron Age hill fort. The views spread out before you to the Malvern Hills, Forest of Dean and Brecon Beacons. The Wysis Way is a well-marked path which passes the beacon and you can explore nearby Pope’s Wood to create a circular route. If you’d just like to visit the beacon there is a car park a five-minute walk away.
Miserden Estate is a surprising delight with a beautiful, timeless garden with glorious views across the deer park to the rolling Cotswold hills beyond. Amongst the gardens you will find a mulberry tree which is thought to have been planted in 1620. There is extensive yew tree hedging, a topiary walk and a wide range of roses, clematis and shrubs. It is a very peaceful and tranquil place, hidden in the heart of the Cotswolds.
A possibly unexpected, but not surprising find in Stroud, are Forest Green Rovers. They are the only vegan football team in the world who work with some eco-friendly companies and sustainability is at the core of everything they do. Enjoy the award-winning vegan food and see the greener side of sport.
The 8km Laurie Lee Wildlife Way circular walk passes through Swifts Hill Nature Reserve just on the edge of the village of Slad. This is the land described in Lee’s Cider with Rosie and it is easy to see why it inspired him. You can expect wonderful views during your visit and an abundance of wildlife, including 13 species of orchids.
With regular events throughout the year, The Subscription Rooms are the central hub of Stroud. The calendar is filled with markets, workshops, festival events, films and dances. But, if you don’t have tickets to one of the performances, you can enjoy lunch or brunch at the Central bar and café.
The Stroud Valleys Artspace has two exhibition spaces in the centre of Stroud. The Brunei designed Goods Shed is a collective space for local artists and showcasing independent productions. Exhibitions are shown at the main studio and there is a café. Check the What’s On guide on their website before visiting.
The Museum in the Park is in a beautiful setting and the displays and exhibitions are held in a Grade II listed wool merchant’s mansion house. This 17th-century building tells the story of the Stroud District alongside workshops and changing displays. There are more than 4,000 objects here including dinosaur bones, paintings and the world’s first lawnmower which was invented in Stroud. You can also visit the walled garden, gift shop and café.
The Cotswold Craftsmen are a diverse group of artists, designers and crafters from around the Cotswolds. The Gallery is a permanent place to display their work, alongside a changing display of other local artists. Each artist takes time to work at the shop so you have the opportunity to meet the face and hands behind each item on display. Discuss their process and maybe even order a personal commission.
The Painswick Centre is a community hub which has a lot going on. Morning markets run on a Thursday, local food pop ups take over, author talks, creative classes and fitness sessions. There are five artists in residence whose studios are open to the public when they are working, and a café and shop.
The annual Stroud Country Show takes place in Stratford Park and has been running since 1870. The day is filled with showcases of local talent with dog shows, classic vehicles and falconry. Performers take to the stage, and you can browse the stalls and fill up on street food. It is an action-packed day of family fun.
Five days of events celebrate big names in the literature world and local authors. Held in November, thousands flock to the town to attend over 35 events. The festival has a commitment to also inspiring children and young people to tell their stories and become more involved in reading.
Did You Know?
Legend says there are 99 yew trees in the churchyard at Painswick, the Devil does not allow a 100th tree to grow.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner, takeaway
Get a taste of Italian life in the heart of Nailsworth at Amalfi. Choose from a range of traditional Sicilian and Italian dishes to enjoy in the relaxed dining room. You can also choose to order a pizza to take away to the comfort of your holiday cottage.
Perfect for: dinner
Karibu is Swahili for ‘welcome’ and you will get a great one here. The Karibu menu is full of amazing vegan food inspired by the owner’s time in Kenya, Asia and South America. Served alongside locally sourced craft beers and spirits you will have a wonderful meal here. Dine on the rooftop terrace, or indoors depending on the weather. You can order takeaway and the restaurant is also dog-friendly.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
The extensive menu at La Campagna blends Italian offerings with a traditional pub dining experience. Set menus are available and you can also choose to order takeaway if you’d rather dine at your cottage.
Perfect for: breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea
Treat yourselves to an afternoon tea at the Lavender Bakehouse. Served with china tea sets and vintage platters it is a lovely experience. You can also visit for breakfast and lunch, booking in advance is recommended.
Perfect for: dinner
The team at Sorrento welcome you to dine in their relaxed restaurant. Serving authentic Italian meals the menu is often updated and local produce is used when possible. The menu is a feast of pasta, pizzas and classic meat dishes.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
Overlooking the yew trees of St Mary’s Church in Painswick, St Michael’s is a charming bistro. You receive a warm welcome from the owners Marin and Catalina who have been serving food in the village for 16 years. They are passionate about serving good food and offer delicious European and traditional British dishes to enjoy inside or al fresco.
Perfect for: dinner
The Frocester is a great choice at any time of year. Inside, the bar has cosy seating and wood-burning stoves while outside is a courtyard. It is a traditional coaching inn set in a small Cotswold village. Set just under Coaley Peak and Selsley Common it is in a lovely location
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
Stop in for a drink at the bar or order a meal from the varied menu of pub classics. Outside you can dine al fresco in their heated seating area. You are sure to receive friendly welcoming service and the team are happy to host events.
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch, dinner, vegan options, gluten-free options.
From the same team behind The Old Fleece, The Old Lodge overlooks Minchinhampton Common with beautiful views. There are many walks passing by making this an idyllic place to stop for a break and enjoy a delicious meal en-route.
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch, dinner
This award-winning family-run restaurant is the perfect pit stop at any time of day. Serving breakfast through to dinner, coffee and wine, and homemade cakes, you will find exactly what you’re looking for. The entire menu is also available to be ordered for collection in advance.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner, drinks
Laurie Lee once sat here, looking out to the view across the Slad Valley. It has been welcoming visitors for over 300 years and the view hasn’t changed much in that time. Today you can stop off for a drink, sit in Lee’s favoured spot, or have a meal in the lounge bar or dining room.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
This local pub is a welcoming spot to sit by the fire and while away the hours with a pint in hand. It is in the heart of ‘Cider with Rosie’ country and the views from the patio are spectacular. Their menu changes twice a year with the clocks and offers homemade pub classics. Remember to check the specials board and the Pie of the Week.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner, vegetation options
This 19th-century pub and restaurant looks across the Painswick Valley so you have a wonderful view alongside your meal and drinks. After exploring the area, pop in for some excellent home-cooked food and soak in the landscape before you.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner, afternoon tea
The Painswick has a lot to offer in its gorgeous restaurant. Visit for a decadent afternoon tea, Sunday lunch, dinner from the a la carte menu or a tasting menu with an optional wine flight accompaniment. It is the perfect choice for special occasions as you are in for a real treat here.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
Choose to dine in the traditional bar or spacious dining room from their seasonal menu. They have an extensive wine menu and their experienced staff can make suggestions of what will complement your meal best.
Perfect for: Eight-course tasting menu
Wilder asks you to arrive for your surprise tasting menu with an ‘open mind and a good appetite’. The seasonal menu is inspired by local producers and foraged ingredients. Coupled with their wine pairings it is a culinary experience not to be missed.
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch, cakes and drinks
The Canteen is a hidden gem tucked away in Nailsworth with friendly staff and quirky decor. It provides a wonderful atmosphere to have breakfast through to lunch or just have an afternoon break with tea and cake. They also host supper clubs, check their website for the next events.
Perfect for: breakfast, freshly baked breads, coffee
This wonderful bakery, with its southerly aspect and babbling stream to the front, has a café on the first floor and an outside sheltered terrace. Enjoy delicious breads, pastries and perfectly brewed fresh coffee.
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch, drinks, dinner
Once a 16th-century mill, there are plenty of fantastic areas to choose to spend your time in. The waterside terrace enjoys views of the grounds and woodland at the river’s edge, the wheel room features the impressive waterwheel, the restaurant has a rustic charm and in the pub, you can relax in classic Cotswold style. They plan to leave you ’stuffed and satisfied’ no matter what you choose from the menu.
Perfect for: breakfast, brunch, lunch on the go
There is a lovely community atmosphere as you browse the 50 stalls at Stroud Farmers’ Market. With locally made produce which varies depending on the season you can find Cotswold cheeses, chutneys, meats, ice cream and ready to eat street food. Find exactly what you need to take home to cook up a feast. There are special events throughout the year including Christmas shopping in December and apple day festivities in October.
Stretching for 102 miles across the Cotswolds, the Cotswold Way is a fabulous way to explore the area. Many circular walks are available taking in part of the trail, but the full route begins in the market town of Chipping Campden in the north all the way down to the World Heritage City of Bath in the south. You will pass many picturesque locations along the way so make sure you take a camera.
The spectacular Cotswold Water Park is a haven for the active, sporty and outdoor-loving. With 180 lakes you can explore on water, on wheels or on foot. Trails criss-cross the area and a host of watersports are available including sailing, rowing, stand up paddleboarding and canoeing. There is so much to see and do here, it is definitely a ‘must visit’.
This Elizabethan manor house might look familiar if you are a fan of period dramas. It has been used as a filming location for Poldark, Lark Rise to Candleford and Tess of the D’Urbervilles amongst others. But not only will you be walking in the footsteps of great actors, many historic figures including Oliver Cromwell have also spent time here. Visitors are able to see the house on private tours, which are led by members of the family. They share tales of the manor which has remained mostly unchanged for the last 400 years.
Spend the day meandering the 600 acres at England’s National Arboretum. There are magnificent displays of 2,500 different species of trees from around the globe. In autumn it is a particularly special place to visit as the changing colours of the leaves spread across the arboretum. You will also find rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias amongst the forests. Westonbirt also hosts popular performances and events which have included the likes of Jools Holland, Madness and Keane during summer and magical illuminated displays in winter.
Coaley Peak is a popular picnic spot which has a fantastic panoramic view over the Severn Vale. Take your kites, explore the Frocester Hill nature reserve, follow part of the Cotswold Way and keep your eye out for birds and wildflowers. Within the 12-acre site at Coaley Peak you will find the Nympsfield long barrow. This neolithic burial chamber is managed by English Heritage and was first excavated in 1862.
With an aim to revive the Arts and Crafts movement, Rodmarton Manor embraced handcrafted items and their beauty. Ernest Barnsley, who built the manor, was a follower of William Morris and used his influence and own inspirations. It is a fantastic example of Arts and Crafts designs and Cotswold craftsmanship. The eight-acre gardens were planted as a series of ‘rooms’ and includes a rockery, kitchen garden and herbaceous borders. It is a beautiful garden to visit at any time of year but is open for specific dates to view the 150 species of snowdrops in February.
A railway was established in Stroud in 1845 but people kept missing the train. Stroud kept time using a sundial which was roughly eight minutes behind GMT.
There is so much for children to see and do at Cattle Country Farm Park. No matter what the weather they will have a fantastic day playing in the two huge barns, the Slide Barn and the Cowshed. Interactive races, light up ball pits and adventure courses could take up the whole day! Outside there is a castle to explore, splash pool, tractors, sand barn, boating lake and giant jumping pillows. If you’ve still got energy left, visit the farm animals for feeding time and handling sessions. Seasonal events also take place with falconry displays, magic shows, maize mazes, the pumpkin patch and firework displays. No matter how many times you visit you’ll never be bored at Cattle Country Farm Park.
Hiding in the heart of the Cotswolds is a herd of Peruvian Alpacas, waiting to be escorted on a walk around Painswick. You will be out walking for around 30-40 minutes with your llama by your side, treating them to a feed when you get back to the farm. What could be a better way to see this picturesque village and make a new fuzzy friend along the way!
This 100-acre wetland is a paradise for birds and you’ll have a fantastic day here, twitcher or not. Through the centre you’ll see a mix of different breeds from flamingos to screamers. Camp out in hides to spot the birds that come and go as the seasons change and enjoy the otters and small pond life. There is a specific bird feeding zone and you can head out on a canoe safari.
A trip to Berkeley Castle is a great day out for the whole family. Children will love the woodland play area and playing kings and queens in the castle. Follow the Lookout Trail and learn more about the history of the castle along the way. It has been in the Berkeley family for 900 years and has a host of stories to tell. Events are held during the year including jousting, festive and Halloween events with the popular Ghoul School.
The magical Giffords Circus is everything you could hope for from a travelling circus. Based in Lypiatt, the team tours around the Cotswolds from May to October in many glorious settings. See family favourite Tweedy the Clown, ponies, dancers and near impossible acrobatics under the roof of the big top tent.
You’ll find fun for all the family at Go Bananas soft play with wavy slides, ball pools and a wobbly bridge. Parents can join children in the soft play or relax in the on-site café. It’s a great way to let children play safely and keep them active on rainier days.
Barton End offers a wide selection of equine activities to suit all standards of rider. They run special hacks, including romantic evenings, easter egg hunts, pub trips, picnics and Pimm’s and strawberries. They also offer early bird hacks, so you can watch the sun rise and view the amazing wildlife while you ride.
Set on the Daylesford organic farm, Bamford Spa offers a holistic approach to relaxation and healing. A range of treatments uses both modern and ancient techniques to fully relax the body and let the mind quiet. Classes are available and you can purchase access to The Spring wet spa.
An award-winning spa just outside the heart of Broadway, a picturesque Cotswold location. You will find a menu of treatments, a relaxed spa café and fitness suites alongside the candlelit infinity pool.
Take some time for yourself at Hatherley Manor Spa. A thermal suite lets you choose your favourite way to rejuvenate or meditate in their tranquil relaxation room. Visit for a treatment and spend some time in the pool for a break away from life’s stresses.
This oasis of calm is an ideal retreat to relax and unwind while on holiday in the Cotswolds. With a choice of day packages and mini spa days, you will find something that will fit your needs perfectly.
Choose how you want to spend your time by booking either a spa day, a treatment, or add-on use of the pool facilities. This space only allows eight users at a time, making it a truly relaxing experience.
The magnificent surroundings of Cowley Manor make the C-Side Spa a luxurious escape. After enjoying a treatment of your choice and a swim in the indoor or outdoor pool, wander the grounds where you will find natural springs and lakes.
Open for spa days or treatments, Cotswold House Spa also has a hair salon and nail bar on site. Found in the centre of Chipping Campden, combine your spa day with a stroll around the town.
The luxurious Ellenborough Park will not disappoint. Surrounded by countryside on the outskirts of Cheltenham you can enjoy the grounds after your favourite treatment or treat yourself to afternoon tea.
Set on the main street in Broadway, The Lygon Arms is a wonderful place to while away a few hours with a treatment before spending time relaxing and enjoying the peace and quiet on a lounger. The Lygon is also home to the James Martin Grill for a delicious meal.
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Please Note: Information correct at time of publishing. Please check the destination/attraction direct website before visiting to confirm opening hours and visitor details.