The River Severn rises in the Welsh mountains and winds it's way through Shropshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire and ends in a vast estuary with the second highest tidal range in the world (which generates the famous tidal bore, or standing wave the moves up the river to well in land and is often a magnet for surfers looking for a challenge)
The Vale is roughly from Tewekesbury in the north to the Severn crossing of the M4, the Forest of Dean in the West and the Cotswolds in the East.
It's a fascinating part of England full of orchards and meadows, rich red-bricked buildings, some half timbered, Castles and the echo of battle.
Gloucester is at the centre of the Severn Vale, and is linked to the sea at Sharpness Docks via the 16 mile Gloucesters-Sharpness Ship Canal, making Gloucester the most in-land port of England. Take a look at Saul Junction, where the Cotswolds Canal crosses the Glos/Sharpness.
Berkeley Castle dating back to the 12th Century and is steeped in history with stories of murder, the Magna Carta and even connections with Shakespeare. Today the Castle sets the scene for a varied programme of events ranging from re-enactments to musical concerts and is still owned and occupied by the same family.
One of Berkeley’s inhabitants became one of the most famous doctors in history, saving millions of lives. Edward Jenner, the father of immunology who famously discovered the smallpox vaccine lived most of his life in Berkeley. Discover the Edward Jenner Museum.
The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge is a world leader in the field of migrating birds and a great day out.
Norman Keep, Medieval castle and assaulted during the Civil War, it's rich in history. Extensive gardens and butterfly house. Family activities and special events throughout the year. (including jousting).
Edward II was imprisoned and then executed here and then buried in Gloucester Cathedral, why not make a day of it and go and see both.
Tours of the Castle with Charles Berkeley. Also a popular Wedding venue. Open Sunday to Wednesday each week.
Berkeley Castle, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, GL13 9BQ
Looking for a walk? Here are a whole host of circular walks provided by Stroud District Council. There are some real crackers in here, not in terms of length, some are only a few miles.....
"Here's a list of some of our favourite circular walks to give you some inspiration on where to go. Please note that these documents are awaiting revision and that some features may now be absent. We advise that these walks are undertaken in conjunction with maps 168 and 179 of the Ordnance Survey Explorer Map series."
NB: to be a little confusing some are NOT circular (Daneway to Stonehouse along the Golden Valley being one)
10 miles south of Gloucester, near the River Severn, is the charming Frampton on Severn.
Home to a large village green, 22 acres in size and reputedly the longest in England, it was known as Rosamund's Green by the mid 17th century, apparently from the village's association with Fair Rosamund. The green has three ponds, two pubs and there is a sailing club tucked away at the far end.
The Domesday Book mentioned the manor of Frampton in 1089. The parish church of St Mary the Virgin was consecrated in 1315, but partly dates from the 12th century, while the congregational church was built in 1769. The designated Conservation Area around the green, includes Tudor and Georgian houses and the village also has a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Much of the village forms part of the Frampton Court Estate, owned by the Clifford family.
The Frampton Country fair is held here each year in September and draws large crowds from all over the UK. The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal runs to the west side of the village and Saul Junction is close by.
The Green, Frampton on Severn, GL2 7EP
Explore the life of Georgian scientist Edward Jenner, the country doctor who changed the world, at his former home in the historic market town of Berkeley.
In 1798 he published the results of his investigations into the use of a mild disease, cowpox, to protect against the feared virus smallpox. Jenner devoted the rest of his life to helping others to carry out the practice that he called ‘vaccination’. This couldn't be more relevant today.
Discover the beautiful garden and Temple of Vaccinia, where you can reflect on the achievements of this remarkable man.
Church Ln, Berkeley, GL13 9BN
Also known as the Ship Graveyard. Ships, barges and other craft were sunk on the tin river bank between the Severn and the Ship canal between 1909 and 1965 to protect the shipping route to Gloucester. Now an important historical site and an easy flat walk, though beware going in poor weather and the trail can get muddy.
It can be a there and back walk or perhaps a loop too. Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL14
Purton, BERKELEY, GL13 9HU
Saul Junction is where the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal meets the Stroudwater Canal and was a great meeting place for ships and crew, boats and boaters from around the world. Today the junction is still popular and there are many lovely walks along the idyllic waterways. Nearby is Saul Junction Marina and Saul Junction Visitor Centre and a cafe too.
It's a spectacle like no other. Check out https://www.severn-bore.co.uk/locations.html for a viewing spot. The funnel of the River Severn estuary forces some of the highest tides (over 9m, the second highest in the world) up to 21 miles inland and the wave attracts surfers from all over.
The tidal surge also attracts canoeists and windsurfers too. Steve King is the current Guinness World Record holder for the longest surf, 9.25 miles.
The crest of wave moves around from side to side reaching speeds of more than 16 kph. For surfing information, please refer to the Gloucester Harbour Trustees website, link below.
Col. J. Churchill, an ex-wartime Commando leader was the first man to surf the bore on a home made 14ft long board on 21st July 1955.
Epney, Nr Frampton on Severn, GL2 7LN
Discover a safe haven of wide open spaces bursting with wetland nature. Fill your lungs with fresh air, stretch your legs and get ready to explore this extraordinary wetland paradise, whatever the weather! From birdwatchers to families enjoy amazing wildlife up-close. Paddle a canoe around the lakes and waterways, feed birds from your hand or watch the flamingos, it's an award-winning day out.
Newgrounds Lane, Slimbridge, GL2 7BT
Let's go surfing..... from Stroud!!? Just under 40 minutes from the middle of Stroud you can go surfing. Inland surf just off the M5, very cool.
Get a lesson, improve your skills or go for a pro session and it's open all year round.
Strictly not quite in the hotcotswolds, but surfing in Gloucestershire (just about). Of course there has been surfing in Gloucester since 1955, the Severn Bore, but this is fab for all the family.
Washingpool Farm, Easter Compton BS35 5RE, BS35 5RE
Positioned on a hill above the village of North Nibley it is dedicated to the martyr William Tyndale. His mission was to translate The Bible into English so that ordinary folk could read it for themselves rather than relying on priests for an interpretation. He was strangled and then burned at the stake as a heretic.
The monument which is 111 feet high was completed in 1866. The reward for climbing the 120 steps is a wonderful view 360 degree view of the Cotswolds, Berkeley Vale and the river Severn to the Black Mountains beyond.
Nibley Knoll, North Nibley, GL11 6DT
Looking for a foodie adventure or a treat, and why not? Perhaps head out into the Severn Vale and discover Italian-style ice cream - THE Wholly Gelato. Made from the herd of many colours and the milk can be purchased through a vending machine too (so take a container).
Followed by a walk along the River Severn footpath or pop in to Gloucester Quays Outlet Centre and a look at the Gloucester Waterways Museum. A cracking day out!
Barhouse Farm, Elmore, GL2 3NT
Whether you are road riding, cycling with a group for fun, using the Sustran Trails, using a guide or self guiding, there is a lot of cycling and mountain biking around here.
Head out into the Severn Vale on your road bike or tackle the hills and lanes of the Edge. Explore the woodland, meadow and trails on a mountain bike for a trails that are great for beginners and still testing for the experienced.
Try our local trail centre, Flyup417 or book a half day with Tim of Cotswold Mountain Biking.