Cotswold villages to visit: Painswick, Bisley & Slad

The Cotswolds enchant and delight with their picturesque villages, quaint cottages, rolling hills and spectacular scenery. Three key villages to visit, among many others, in the Cotswolds are Painswick, Bisley and Slad. Located near Stroud, these villages combine Cotswold charm with arresting landscapes. Painswick and Bisley also offer quaint streets, chocolate-box Cotswold cottages and scenic country lanes.

1. The picturesque market town of Painswick
2. The charming village of Bisley
3. The enchanting hamlet of Slad

1. The picturesque market town of Painswick

Located north of Stroud, the picturesque town of Painswick features typical Cotswold streets and cottages, a stunning church and churchyard, beautiful Rococo gardens and lovely country scenery.

Cotswold streets and cottages

Built in the golden Cotswold stone, the village’s charming cottages are a delight to admire and the quaint streets a marvel to wander through. From New Street to Bisley Street, Tibbiwell Lane, St Mary’s Street and Vicarage Street, you’ll get lost in the Cotswold charm of the market town. The multitude of chocolate-box cottages distinguishes Painswick and renders it one of the best Cotswold villages.

Typical Cotswold cottage in Painswick
Typical Cotswold cottage

St Mary’s church and churchyard

Like many Cotswold villages, Painswick thrived in the 17th and 18th centuries thanks to the wool trade. The fine cottages and the striking St Mary’s Church are a testament to this. Located at the heart of the Cotswold market town, the Norman church enchants with its tall spire and its remarkable setting. Lined with oval-shaped yew trees planted in the 18th century and full of intriguing tombstones displaying the wealth of bygone wool merchants, the churchyard is one of Painswick’s key attractions.

The church of St Mary's in Painswick, with its tall spire, lined yew trees and intriguing tombstones
St Mary’s Church

Views of the Cotswold countryside

Along with its British quaintness, Painswick, which is built on a hill, enjoys stunning views of the rolling hills and enchanting valleys. From the town’s streets, you can spot the charming Cotswold countryside. Unsurprisingly, this picturesque town is the ideal setting for period dramas and British shows. The TV series A Casual Vacancy was filmed in the village.

Cotswold street in Painswick
Country views from Hale Lane

Painswick Beacon

Set on the Cotswold escarpment above the Cotswold market town, Painswick Beacon is the site of an Iron Age hill fort. From there, you can enjoy gorgeous views of the Cotswold Hills, the Severn Vale, the Forest of Dean and the Brecon Beacons mountains. While you take in the scenery, cattle graze on the wild common and golfers play on the nearby course. You can explore the village, the breathtaking Painswick Beacon and the charming Painswick Valley with the Painswick Beacon and Painswick Valley walk.

The trig point at Painswick Beacon and its hazy views on the Painswick Beacon & Painswick Valley walk
Painswick Beacon (in the clouds)

How to get there

Located along the A46 road, Painswick is a 10-minute drive from the north of Stroud. You can park in Stamages Lane car park on New Street for free but only for 23 hours. Alternatively, you can take the 66 Gold bus from Stroud or Cheltenham.

2. The charming village of Bisley

Located near Painswick and Stroud, the charming village of Bisley is the epitome of British country charm. Boasting quaint streets and striking landscapes, Bisley is a peaceful market town and usually quieter than other Cotswold villages.

Cotswold streets and cottages

Bisley features a plethora of picturesque cottages, along with less-than-charming 1970s lookalike houses. I’d recommend avoiding the newer part of town and getting lost in the quaint, tranquil streets of the old town. From Well Road to High Street, Church Hill and George Street, you can only marvel at the rows upon rows of chocolate-box Cotswold cottages.

Typical Cotswold cottages in Bisley with colourful doors
Quaint Cotswold cottages

All Saints’ Church

A typical Cotswold church, All Saints’ Church is located in the heart of the old town. The tall spire towers over the charming village and attracts the eye from most locations in Bisley. The spire guides you to the serene churchyard, where you can find the one-of-a-kind ‘Poor Souls Light’, an outdoor edifice for Masses held for the poor.

All Saints' Church in Bisley
All Saints’ Church

Cotswold countryside

The Cotswold countryside offers countless footpaths and enchanting country scenery, and the most peaceful escapes. From charming valleys to bountiful hills and breathtaking views, the Bisley-with-Lypiatt walk presents the very best the Cotswolds have to enjoy. Starting at Bisley, this circular walk is rich and varied, and is ideal to discover the Cotswold hills. Find the Bisley-with-Lypiatt walk guide.

Hidden Cotswold valleys on the Bisley-with-Lypiatt walk
Hidden Cotswold valley

How to get there

Located 10 minutes from Stroud and 15 minutes from Painswick, Bisley can easily be reached by car. You can park on the village streets. Alternatively, you can take the 8 and 8B bus from Stroud.

3. The enchanting hamlet of Slad

Located near Painswick and Stroud, the hamlet of Slad is another Cotswold village worth a visit. The hamlet’s main attractions are the beautiful views of the Cotswold countryside and the hamlet’s link to the English author Laurie Lee.

Views of the Cotswold countryside

Comprising a few pretty cottages nested in a lush, hidden valley, Slad enjoys beautiful views of the Cotswold hills. Like the whole region, the enchanting hamlet prospered in the 17th and 18th centuries from the wool trade. Dating from then and enjoying gorgeous country views, the key sights in Slad are the Woolpack Inn, the Holy Trinity church and the old school house.

Cotswold green hills and farm houses in the hamlet of Slad
Rolling Cotswold Hills

Laurie Lee

Slad was home to Laurie Lee, who immortalised the enchanting village and Cotswold quaintness in his book Cider with Rosie. Since Lee’s time, the hamlet remains mostly unchanged. You can follow the Laurie Lee Wildlife Way walk from the village and explore the beautiful Slad valley.

Please note that both of Lee’s homes are private dwellings and unfortunately cannot be visited.

How to get there

Slad can only be reached by car or on foot. The hidden valley is located a 10-minute drive and 45-minute walk from both Painswick and Stroud. Follow the B4070 or cut across the countryside.

Explore more Cotswold villages

The South Cotswolds feature a plethora of picturesque villages, quaint streets and charming cottages, and offer the ideal escape to British quintessence. From Castle Combe to Malmesbury and Uley, find the best villages in the South Cotswolds for a day trip or weekend away.

Picturesque Cotswold cottages and charming stream along the main road in Castle Combe
Castle Combe

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