Apr 29, 2013

Beyond London: Cotswolds Water Park

A stroll around Gloucestershire's prettiest lakes.

We spent the last week in the UK, visiting friends (including Lee's beloved former childminder) and Nate's parents. My in-laws live in Gloucestershire so on Friday we took a chance with the weather - it oscillated between showers and bursts of sunshine - and went to the Cotswold Water Park for a quick traipse around.

To paraphrase the Wikipedia article, Cotswold Water Park is a marl lake system comprising just under 150 lakes. It's fairly new; the lakes were created through gravel extraction which stopped in the early 1970s. It's not a waterpark per se (though there are some lakes with watersport facilities), but rather a combination of wetland areas and nature reserves.

We started off near the "Gateway" visitor center which has general information on the park.


To take a short route we opted to walk around "Lake 6," which is right behind the visitor center.


The walk is quick (under 30 minutes) and easy and despite the intermittent rain it wasn't too muddy - which suited me well since I'd only brought ballet flats. The changing weather made the lake and its surrounding brooks and streams look alternately dramatic...


...and tranquil.


At the end of the route Lee stopped by the playground opposite Cotswold Water Park Hotel until the drizzle became excessive. The venue looks fantastic, with direct views over the lake. It also includes self-catering apartments.


The hotel is adjacent to The Old Boathouse pub. We didn't go on Friday but Nate's taken me here in the past; it's one of his favorites.


I initially hoped the huge Cotswold Outdoor store - also near The Old Boathouse and Cotswold Water Park Hotel - was an outlet, but it is definitely not. Still, the fleeces look cozy and the shoes look comfortable for long hikes, and I was severely tempted by a pair of Reef flip flops.


And my in-laws' garden is in full spring bloom.


Bottom line: the Cotswolds are gorgeous, and if they were a better commute from London we'd be severely tempted to move there. Our summering strategy isn't clear yet, but I do hope we can spend a few weekends in the area for walks, nature watching, and swimming and sailing - and though I'm uniquely terribly at waterskiing, I might just try again 15 years after my initial failure.

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