Call of the Cotswolds: real countryside fun for creative kids this summer

Last updated 23rd June 2024

In search of ‘best things to do with kids’ beyond soft-play and zoos, Katie Bowman explores the creative Cotswolds.


Village shops, Stow-on-the-Wold

Making promises to small children can be a dangerous pastime, but it’s a risk they are willing to take at Daylesford Farm in the Cotswolds.

This year, the shepherds pinpointed April 13th as the date visitors were guaranteed to see a lamb being born, as their organic herds approach peak birthing time. Those lucky enough to nab a golden ticket would be taken on a tractor trailer ride from gorgeous Daylesford Farm HQ in Kingham across fields to the lambing barns. Here, ewes “Molly” and “Prudence”, among other mothers-to-be, were giving birth or petting just-born lambs in the hay. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime encounter.

What we can’t promise is that your children won’t beg for a toy lamb back at the Daylesford farm shop afterwards. Nor can we promise that you yourself won’t succumb to buying a stylish sheepskin rug from Daylesford’s own flock.


Meeting the locals, Daylesford Farm

Get your hands dirty on a day out in the Cotswolds

This lambing tour will be on again next spring, but it’s just one of dozens of incredible one-off family experiences on the menu here.

Daylesford was an organic farm well before it was cool to be organic, and takes sustainability, food and wellbeing seriously. Its monthly Families Cooking Together half-day class is edible proof: a cooking session in which both the grown-ups and kids make seasonal favourites, such as rhubarb crumble, broccoli pasta bake, or Christmas biscuits, before sharing a meal together.

If you have older children or kids who want to cook independently, there are Budding Chefs and Junior Chefs courses, which include a tour of the 28-acre market garden.

Then there’s Mud and Guts; this is an outdoors activity day at Daylesford in which kids make shelters, build fires and learn about foraging, bushcraft and the natural world.

Side-step the soft play for real country fun

My daughter – now 11 – and I loved these shared moments and new skills when we visited Daylesford Farm this spring. As a parent and a keen staycationer, I’ve wanted to show her amazing places like the Lake District and Cotswolds before, but a quick Google search for “Best things to do with kids” invariably reveals a soft-play centre or local zoo in the top 10 results. Why would we go to Lake Windermere to see a monkey enclosure?

That’s why these family-focused pursuits at Daylesford suited us brilliantly. They were completely immersive and showed off what life for many children in the Cotswolds is truly about fresh air; farming; nature (unless you’re Harper Beckham, of course).

Similarly, the suggested walks around Daylesford aren’t mapped out merely for hardcore hikers but include family- and dog-friendly routes. Our wellies had never been so muddy.


Diddly Squat Farm Shop,

Learn about bees and other stuff at Diddly Squat Farm

Another only-in-the-Cotswolds’ experience we can recommend is a visit to Diddly Squat Farm Shop.

I’m no Jeremy Clarkson fan (quite the opposite), but my daughter is addicted to his TV series about life on a farm, and what she has learned about seasons, food production and country living is a credit to the production crew. She was adamant that we visit Clarkson’s Farm, so off we went, driving past hedgerows that we recognised from the small screen, the real deal.

To my relief, Jeremy wasn’t around that day, but we did have a hoot filling up our glass bottles from his Cow Juice Machine (what my daughter doesn’t know about UK dairy farming isn’t worth knowing) and stocking up on jars of bee juice (ditto: the importance of bees).


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Bourton-on-the-Water, Cotswolds

The Cotswolds has some of England’s prettiest villages, don’t miss them

Be sure to factor some Cotswolds villages into your stay, too. If your kids are in a buggy, then you’ll welcome the paved lanes over muddy fields, and if they’re older, then they’ll be desperate to spend pocket money.

Chipping Norton is the buzziest of all the villages, with a market every Wednesday and a fantastic farmers’ market on the third Saturday of each month. (TikTok teens should keep phones handy for sightings of David Beckham, David Cameron and Soho Farmhouse rockstar guests such as Dua Lipa – all Chipping Norton locals.)

Taynton and Lower Slaughter villages both win awards for prettiest in the Cotswolds, so they make a great stop for student photographers and Insta moments, while Stow-on-the-Wold is famous for its olde-worlde sweet shop and Bourton-on-the-Water for hand-made fudge at Once Upon a Candy Shop.

Treat yourself to a cottage stay, because it’s the Cotswolds

My daughter and I really wanted to spend the night in a Cotswold-stone house, so we checked into Wisteria Cottage, one of a collection of historic buildings – including a former schoolhouse – turned into holiday accommodation by Daylesford.

Wisteria was once the schoolhouse for children of farm tenants who lived in Daylesford Village and it’s the smallest cottage in the  hamlet. Each night we’d build a real log fire and each morning we’d try to identify the various birdsong; it was idyllic.

Alternatively, you can opt for a Family Room in a pub B&B if you want an authentic stay with service. The Wild Rabbit pub in pretty Kingham village has family rooms as does The Fox at Oddington and The Bell at Charlbury where kids’ single beds are mini four-posters, or bunks crafted with beautiful birchwood. Who says you need soft play for a holiday to become a “family” holiday?

How to plan a family break in the Cotswolds

How to get there

By train: London Paddington to Kingham from 1 hour, 27 minutes

By Road: London to Daylesford Organic from 2 hours

Where to stay

Daylesford Village cottages (2-8 guests) from £375 – £750 per night, minimum 4-night stay

Find out more and book here

The Fox at Oddington, from £225 per night, minimum 2-night stay

Find out more and book here

The Bell at Charlbury, from £265 per night, minimum 2-night stay

Find out more and book here

Good to know

Daylesford Farm in the Cotswolds offers family activities and cooking classes for children and adults throughout the year.

Visit Daylesford Farm


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