Country Escape: 5 Things to Do in Stroud
Explore the great British countryside with our list of things to do in Stroud.
Cam. Slad. Painswick. Nailsworth. Chalford. They may sound like the sound effects that go with each Batman punch and kick, but they’re actually scenic valleys in the heart of the Cotswolds, where you’ll find Stroud. In this Gloucestershire town, you can join the charming villagers before hiking through the leafy countryside. This terrain is adorned with majestic estates that once belonged to wealthy textile mill owners and the like. Now, they belong to you. Well, in a way… we mean, you can go and look around; you can’t stay the night or anything (though we do have some lovely homes in Gloucestershire).
Parks, museums and historical trails are the things of which old Stroud is proud. Mansions, mills and markets make for an idiosyncratic stay in the valley - and they all start with m - with the old textile factories giving an insight into how the place developed. It’s just as quaint in summer as it is in winter, when the hills are often covered in a thick layer of snow. So, here is the Plum Guide list of things to do in Stroud.
Hit up the festival
Referencing its history, Stroud Festival is based around textiles and other arts, with workshops, exhibitions and lectures. It takes place in spring, which is a particularly gorgeous time of year to be here (not to say the other three seasons aren't particularly gorgeous).
The festival takes place in some of the landmarks that we’ll cover in the coming paragraphs, including the Museum in the Park and the Subscription Rooms. Delve into the studios of artists, who open up their places of work to the public during the festival, and rummage through their stuff until they kick you out. Steal their ideas and fail miserably trying to replicate them at a later date. Pretend you were doing an impressionist take on the work. ‘I’m doing a Cezanne, can’t you see?’ you’ll exclaim in distress.
Museums and mansions
It probably won’t rain. It won’t rain. It won’t. But, if it does rain (it won’t), there are a whole bunch of indoor activities and things to do in Stroud on a rainy day. The Museum in the Park is a ‘say what you see’ kind of place; it’s a museum in a park; THE park, no less. Dating back to the 17th century, this former wool merchant’s house contains the town’s main museum. Check out the dinosaur bones and the doll from the 1600s. That’s a pretty old doll – and you thought your little one’s little dolly was getting a bit tatty.
The Woodchester Mansion is another highlight, dating back to 1870. Inspect the various gargoyles and eccentric sculptures marking the exterior, making sure to mock your travel buddies about their resemblance to such stone creatures. Head inside and see how the interior was never completed, because its owner died. If you'd like to stay in your own mansion, might we recommend The Lion's Roar? This palatial Plum Guide home near Stroud is a great choice for a very opulent family vacation.
Party in the parks
See, we told you it won’t rain. Time to hit some of the many leafy parks in the valleys. The Stratford Park is where you’ll find the aforementioned Museum in the Park. It has a miniature railway and a forest comprising Indian bean trees and western red cedars. You’ll also find tennis courts, a gym and a pair of indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Relax by the lake and watch the geese floating about without a care in the world. The geese that is; you probably have many cares in the world.
Stroll through the Woodchester Park (a trend of parks and their museums is developing here). After checking out that unfinished estate we wrote about above, climb up and down the hills of this scenic park, and walk past the charming lakeside boathouse. Let the little ones clamber all over the climbing frame, logs, bridges and swings.
Like and subscribe. Like and Subscribe. This neoclassical monument may not look like a millennial YouTuber, but it’s asking you the same thing. It just wants to get some views and likes and things. Well, not really. The Subscription Rooms is a 19th-century venue with a 450-seat ballroom. Watch concerts and dance recitals in this classic arena, where touring pop and folk acts grace the stage. In fact, The Beatles performed here in 1962. Try not to freak out and kiss the stage where they once stood.
Cloth Mills of the Five Valleys
Learning about Stroud's textile industry is pretty much a rite of passage when it comes to things to do in Stroud. Get an insight into the history and development of the area with a trip to some of these old textile factories. The Lodgemore Mills and Cam Mill date back many centuries and produce the weird felt stuff you get on tennis balls and snooker/pool tables (and very little else). Embark on a tour on an open day of the St. Mary’s Mill, inspecting its 19th-century waterwheel.