Cotswolds discovery centre opens its doors for third season

This week, 'Escape to the Cotswolds', the discovery centre for the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) will open its doors for a third season.

The centre which is run by the Cotswolds Conservation Board, will build on its previous two years success in helping people discover the fascinating story of the Cotswolds.

Through a series of imaginatively designed information panels, visitors can learn about the history, geology, landscape, people and nature of the area as well as be inspired to explore the Cotswolds further using the extensive network of public rights of way including the popular Cotswold Way National Trail. This season, a number of activities will be taking place at the centre including taster days in blacksmithing, and a Jubilee themed treasure hunt. A number of maps, walking routes, guide books, souvenirs and refreshments are available for visitors to buy, plus there is a wide range of free local information.

The centre, open from April to October, Wednesdays to Saturdays, is housed in the 18th century Old Prison in Northleach and allows visitors easy access to view one of the original cell blocks, along with the Lloyd Baker Rural Life Collection. This unique collection is the largest publicly owned regional collection of agricultural 'bygones' in the country, which includes a range of beautifully crafted harvest wagons and carts.

A bid by local environmental charity, the Friends of the Cotswolds, to invest in and secure the future of the building is currently being evaluated by Cotswold District Council, following the launch of the Friends’ fundraising campaign earlier this year. The campaign aims to build on the success of ‘Escape’, developing a centre of excellence for rural skills training and renewable energy demonstration, as well as significantly enhancing the range of interactive materials and exhibits for visitors to learn more about the AONB.

Notes to editors:

  • Escape to the Cotswolds is open from 4 April to 31 October, Wednesdays to Saturdays, 11am to 4pm.
  • The centre is situated on the A429 Fosse Way at Northleach.
  • The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape.
  • The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members - 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
  • The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas. There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland. For further details, visit: