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The Cheltenham Festival: Tracks to Cheltenham


Lying on the Roman Fosse Way, which cuts through the Cotswolds' rolling hills, this town (one of the area's highest settlements) was the site of the the final battle in stage one of the English Civil War, culminating in royalist surrender in the market square. The town lies just a few miles from the neighbouring (and equally appealing) town of Bourton-on-the-Water, and a horse fair is held on the edge of town every May and October.


The Snowshill Arms is one of the cosiest pubs in these hills, and it fills three deep with punters during the Festival. Lavender grows in the village's surrounding fields, a Bronze Age hoard was found here in the 19th century (now in the keep of the British Museum), and Snowshill Manor contains the collection of architect and craftsman Charles Paget Wade.


Just as crowded as its American cousin, this is ground zero of the tourist melee that has engulfed the Cotswolds in recent years. In the 1500s, however, this town was equally bustling, as a major staging post on the route from Worcester to London. Now, alongside tourism, it's a centre of the antiques trade. The Gloucestershire Warwickshire steam railway also starts its journey here, delivering you direct to the racecourse in classic fashion.


The last stop before climbing Cleve Hill, and looking out at Cheltenham on the other side, this is a medieval town with a surprising modern detail... on 28th February 2021, fragments of a meteorite from an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter fell to Earth here, and were found on a resident's driveway. The burial site of Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's final wife, is also nearby, and the town is on the steam railway line.


For 2023!


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