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The southern Cotswolds spills over the Gloucestershire border into Wiltshire and is filled with towns and villages no less picturesque and inviting than those further north.

Perched on a hilltop, stunning Painswick, known as ‘the Queen of the Cotswolds’, has a wonderfully unspoilt and uncommercial feel, as well as a beautiful church surrounded by yew trees. The nearby Painswick Rococo Garden is an excellent example of an 18th century pleasure garden.

Pretty villages and towns are dotted along the country lanes – Bibury and Barnsley, close to the market town of Cirencester, tiny Uley and Berkely, with its impressive Norman Castle, in the far west, and historic Malmesbury, famed for the partially ruined Malmesbury Abbey, to the south.

Highgrove, the home of the Prince of Wales, can also be found here and its gardens, in which he takes a very personal interest, are open to the public by prior appointment.

The nearby village of Bampton and stately home of Highclere have increased in popularity in recent years due to their use as Downton village and Downton Abbey in the popular BBC series.

Image © VisitBritain / Tony Pleavin

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