Best Places to Visit in the UK - The Cotswolds.
What Britain Loves - Cheese Rolling in the Costwolds
Morris Dancing in the Cotswolds
Bourton Football in the river
Visiting the Cotswolds
There are many beautiful and interesting places to see in the UK, from remote Celtic landscapes to the bright lights of London.
One of the most popular areas with tourists are the beautiful Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on a range of hills in the heart of England, steeped in tradition from their 13th-15th century heritage as a thriving wool centre of commerce. The Cotswolds are well regarded for being “typically English” with their honey-coloured limestone cottages, dry-stone walls, and quaint historic market towns.
There are many pretty towns and villages to see in the Costwolds, but strangely, there are a number of unusual events that take place throughout the year, where the locals refuse to let their long-standing eccentric traditions die out!
Cheese rolling is pretty much just that, rolling cheese down a steep hill. It is a tradition that takes place at midday on the Spring Bank Holiday Monday and it involves rolling a large round of cheese down a hill and the competitors chase after it; the one that crosses the finishing line first wins the cheese. It has been carried out on Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire for over 200 years and was traditionally an event for he villagers of nearby Brockworth, but now people come from far and wide to take part in the event.
The cheese used is a hard 8lb round of Double Gloucester and traditionally, the idea was to catch the cheese, but the cheese is given a head-start and because the hill is so steep, the rolling cheese can reach a speed of up to 70mph, making it dangerous as it can knock people over.
There are often minor injuries that occur in long-running traditional event, mainly bruised shins and sprained ankles. The highest number of injuries occurred in 1997 with 33 competitors receiving minor injuries. The future of the event does hang in the balance, however, as Health and Safety concerns and the costs associated with this put pressure on the funding of the race. The race often goes ahead unofficially. Click here to find out the latest information on the event.
The event is so well established that there is a pub called “The Cheese Rollers” 3 miles away from Coopers Hill in the village of Shurdington.
Bourton Football in the River
On the August Bank Holiday Monday, there is a 70 year old tradition held in the Cotswold town of Bourton-on-the –Water where a game of six-a-side football takes place, 15 minutes in each direction in the river Windrush that runs through the pretty Cotswold town. Click here to find out more. Bourton is a pretty town to visit, with a Model Village next to a beautiful English pub, that is well worth a look around.
Of course, I couldn't leave a hub without mentioning my favourite topic, perfume, and if you really want to enjoy an hour or so, stop off at the Cotswolds Perfumery in Bourton on the Water for a fascinating guided tour of the perfume factory.
Morris dancing is still very much a tradition in many parts of the UK, but particularly in the Costwolds. It is a tradition that takes place throughout the year, but particularly at Whitsun. It dates back to the 13th century and has its roots in Spanish Moorish dancing (“Moorish” being the origin of the term “Morris’). It was used traditionally to ward off evil spirits from the harvest and encourage fertility. It involves a team of people dancing outside, with colourful traditional dress and clogs, often with flowers and ribbons decorating hats. The dancers wear ribbons and bells strapped to them and carry large sticks that they bang together. In the Cotswolds, the teams have 6 men, called a “side” and often have a fool or a beast.
Well-dressing is a popular tradition that still carries on in the Northern parts of the UK in Derbyshire and in the Malverns in Worcestershire and in Bisley in the Cotswolds. It is thought to be a pagan tradition and was banned by early Christians, but the tradition carries on. It involves decorating the wells of the town with flowers and other decorations. The flowers are put into clay-filled wooden trays, mounted on a wooden frame. Teams of volunteers spend many hours decorating the well, often in secret, ready for the morning of the festival. It takes place in Bisley on Ascension Day each year. Click here to find out more.