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Painswick occupies the strange no man’s land betwixt ‘village’ and ‘town’; too large to be the former but with too much of an intimate, homely vibe to be the latter. The buildings, built of mellow Cotswold stone from the local quarry on Painswick Beacon, crowd the narrow streets, with only the half-timbered home on New Street breaking up the theme. Given it was constructed in 1428, the name now seems rather ironic. It’s a sign of just how ancient this quaint Cotswolds hotspot is. There are few more picturesque places in the region.
As with all excellent village-towns, Painswick has all the essentials. There are a couple of excellent pubs, a well-stocked shop, an old church and a suitably compelling local legend (there are 99 yew trees in the cemetery but the 100th will never grow). And now it has an essential local campsite, too, a meadow patch that confesses to offer ‘simple camping in the Cotswolds’.
The word ‘simple’ pretty much hits the nail on the head. Refreshingly understated and with a lush, scenic location that speaks for itself, Painswick doesn't need to provide all the razzmatazz onsite when all eventualities – the little paper shop selling hot croissants from 7am to 8pm; cute coffee shops and eateries from which to plan your day's activities – are just a pretty stroll beyond the campsite gates. It truly is a little haven hidden in the heart of the village.
Camping space is provided for just five informally scattered tents, with the flatter places on the terraced grassy paddock overlooking the Painswick Valley just east of the settlement. For littl'uns, Painswick village has a beautiful playground of its own with zip wire and all kinds of swings, slides and climbing frames. It is only a five minute walk up the path and along a pretty winding street. There is also a football pitch and ping pong table (bats and balls can be borrowed from the campsite). But really, it’s the imagination of campers’ that brings the place to life. Campfire gatherings are fairly routine and children love to play in the stream that fringes the bottom of the field. Foxes, badgers and the odd deer in the trees at dusk, meanwhile, show that human’s are not the only ones drawn to the area's natural splendour.
Walkers will love the seemingly endless variety of circular walks from the campsite gate: head up hill along the escarpment with views over the Severn Vale and limestone flower meadows underfoot; dip through beech forests – carpeted in spring with bluebells – down into hidden valleys; amble along streams set with ancient mills and many wonderful pubs to stop for lunch or a well-deserved pint. The campsite also makes a perfect stopover for those journeying along The Cotswolds Way or The Wysis Way. More idle ramblers can lose themselves in the miniature mazes at Rococo Gardens. Stroud, Cirencester, Gloucester and Cheltenham are all eminently reachable to those with cars, too. Or simply stay put and enjoy the village pub. Or town pub. Whatever you want to call it.
Facilities5 pitches. Pony trailer converted into a shower and washing up area. 1 composting loo inside a converted shepherd's hut. Solar charging for mobile phones. Communal firepit with rudimentary log seating. No access for cars or campervans, but there is a bay you can pull into initially to unload your car at the bottom of the field. After that you must go to the car park in the village for the rest of the stay (no parking on site).
Suitable ForTents, well-behaved dogs, small groups, children, Cotswold Way walkers, backpackers and anyone who likes to ditch the car and enjoy life on the hoof – yes. Campervans, caravans, motorhomes, noisy crowds – no.
NearbyThe ancient wool village/town of Painswick is home to pretty winding streets, a few quirky shops and a couple of decent pubs to occupy you locally (see Food & Drink). Take a stroll up to the Painswick Beacon and you can see across the Severn River to The Forest of Dean and Wales in the West, with glorious views south towards Bristol and north to the Malvern Hills. The local Rococo Garden (01452 813204) is a real hidden treasure. It offers a huge, magical garden to explore, with a mixture of the manicured and the wild, plus huts and seating spots along the way. The café there also serves sensational cakes and tea. A walk to The Woolpack (01452 813429) in the Slad valley is a treat – more glorious views from the footpath and a rustic pub to die for.
Food & DrinkWalk into town for several good dinner options – The Cardynham House Bistro (01452 814006), The Royal Oak (01452 813129), The Falcon Inn (01452 814222) or The Painswick Hotel (01452 813688). For a light bite during the day, there's also Olivas deli (01452 814774) and Patchwork Mouse Art Café (01452 812560). Rococo Gardens also has a small café (01452 813204) on site too. For quick groceries, there is a well-stocked village shop – Best One – and on Friday morning a small country market in the Town Hall (01452 812722). Head to Stroud, though, on Saturday morning for the main farmers' market, which is excellent. You can even walk there (3½ miles) along ancient mill paths and then catch the bus back to Painswick laden with goodies.
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