The Cotswolds has some of the UK’s prettiest countryside.
It’s pretty hard to find a bad view here, but where can you get the best view in the Cotswolds?
Well, it’s surely got to be from the top of Broadway Tower, which sits on top of Fish Hill, the second highest hill in the Cotswolds. From the top of the tower you can see 16 different counties on a good day – and as far as 62 miles.
Broadway Tower is a great place to spend a few hours with kids, and there’s more to the area than just the tower. Read on to see what else you can get up to in the local area, where to eat and where to stay.
Visiting Broadway Tower
Located a couple of miles from the pretty town of Broadway, Worcestershire, Broadway Tower is one of the Cotswolds’ top attractions. This is the highest castle in the Cotswolds, and it has six sides, four floors, three turrets, and several gargoyles. The kids are going to love it.
Broadway Tower was built in 1798, and was designed by “Capability” Brown (a name that is cropping up regularly on this blog) and the architect James Wyatt. Brown was asked to build Broadway Tower by the 6th Earl of Coventry whose wife wanted to know if she could see a beacon from her Worcester home, 20 miles away. Turned out that she could.
Obviously, the main attraction of Broadway Country Park is the Tower, and you and your kids will want to make a beeline for it straight away.
Once inside, you climb the narrow, spiral staircase all the way to the top. You can stop off in the rooms on the floors as you go, but you probably won’t be able to stop the kids from scampering straight up, so just save them for the way back down.
When you get to the top, you can soak in the views over the Cotswolds. Helpful plaques on the tower ramparts show you the towns, landmarks and counties you can see from the top. Meanwhile, your kids can let their imaginations loose. The Cub spent all her time at the top pretending to be Rapunzel.
Others had different uses for the top of the tower. Legend has it that William Morris, the renowned artist who used Broadway Tower as a holiday home, used to sit out here in his bath, admiring the view and catching his soap when the wind blew it away.
On the way back down, try to stop off in the various rooms where you’ll find displays about Broadway Tower’s history. The displays are unlikely to hold the attention of small kids though, so you may have to rush through! If you manage it, then you’ll find information about how Broadway Tower was used as a vantage point to spot enemy planes during WW2 and stories about the famous artists and interesting people who used to holiday here centuries ago.
When you’re back outside try to find the local deer herd who can usually be spotted close to the Tower. If you’re lucky you can also book a talk from the resident deer expert on selected dates.
The Cold War Nuclear Bunker
Broadway Tower had a strategic part to play during WW1, WW2 and the Cold War.
During the Cold War, all over Britain, nuclear bunkers were dug into the ground and set up to monitor nuclear fallout in case the worst happened. You can take a guided tour inside the nuclear bunker at Broadway Tower to see how the monitoring worked and what life was like for the staff.
This bunker was built in the 1960s and remained manned until 1991. Volunteers from the Royal Observer Corps would stay in the bunker for 3 weeks at a time. In recent years the bunker has been completely restored to how it would have looked back in the 1980s – so it’s one of a kind and definitely worth a look.
The nuclear bunker at Broadway Tower is open from spring to autumn. Unfortunately it’s not suitable for kids under 12 so the husband went on this tour by himself.
The Cotswold Way
Broadway Tower is on the Cotswold Way, a 100-mile long route that stretches from Chipping Campden in the north to Bath in the south. Chipping Campden is nearby so Broadway Tower is one of the first main stops on the walk.
The Cotswold Way takes walkers along the top of the main stretch of rolling hills, or wolds, which give the Cotswolds its name.
While the husband was in the nuclear bunker, the kids and I went to stretch our legs along the path. We walked down the hill from Broadway Tower towards the village of Broadway. If you were to walk the whole way down to Broadway village it would probably take you an hour.
The views are almost as good as those you get from the tower. The kids really had a great time and for once I didn’t get any complaints about tired legs. They loved getting close to the sheep in the fields and resting on the benches at a viewpoint.
After you’ve explored the tower and the nuclear bunker I’d definitely recommend a walk towards Broadway.
Things to do near Broadway Tower
The Cotswolds is full of beautiful towns and villages. Near to Broadway Tower, you will of course find the town of Broadway itself.
A few miles further away lies Chipping Campden, often voted the prettiest town in the Cotswolds. We’ve driven through it but haven’t managed to stop there yet. We can safely say that it’s up there with the best, as it looks totally gorgeous, and we’re planning on spending a day in Chipping Campden soon.
If you haven’t worn your children out enough then Hidcote Manor Gardens are a short distance away. These lovely gardens are beautifully arranged into separate “rooms,” each with a different feel. Our tricky to impress children had a blast here. You can see Broadway Tower from the far end of the gardens too.
Other nearby spots include Batsford Arboretum, which is especially lovely in the spring and autumn; Snowshill (there is a National Trust property here) and Stow-on-the-Wold. Plenty of things to fill your weekend with!
Know before you go
Tickets and entry
You can buy your tickets for Broadway Tower on the official website or when you arrive. Tickets can be bought in the building by the cafe. They are reasonably priced at £5 per adult, £3 per child (under 6s free).
The cafe and tower are open year round. The nuclear bunker tours are on weekends and select dates only from April to October. Check the website for further details. The tours last 45 minutes and cost £3.50.
If you want to meet the Head of the deer park then you need to check which dates are available on the website – at the time of writing they are TBC.
Getting there and away
Broadway Tower is on the top of Fish Hill. You can walk to it if you’re staying nearby.
If you’re driving the postcode for your sat nav is WR12 7LB. You need to pay for parking – coins only I think so make sure you have change.
Where to eat – Broadway Tower Cafe
We got to Broadway Tower fairly early on in the day and went to Broadway Tower cafe first, for breakfast. The cafe is run by Morris and Brown, and you don’t need to be visiting the tower to eat here. You can order a hot breakfast (I had the eggs and they were perfectly done), sandwiches or a cooked lunch as well as coffee and cake.
We were glad we got there early as the cafe quickly filled up; by 10.30 on a Saturday it was full. There is lots of seating outside, and a couple of little playhouses for kids.
At the back of the cafe there’s a Cotswold artisanal shop with lots of nicely made souvenirs and home accessories. You can also buy Broadway Tower themed merchandise from the shop on the ground floor of the Tower.
In Broadway itself, the Broadway Deli gets great reviews. There are several pubs serving lunches and evening meals.
Where to stay in Broadway
Broadway has several accommodation options.
If you’d like to splash out then you can stay in some stunning hotels, like the Lygon Arms or the Dormy House Hotel. Both hotels are family friendly and the Lygon Arms also runs a kids’ club in the school holidays. Perfect!
You can also find holiday rentals which can be more convenient if you’ve got a young family. AirBnB can also be a great option.
Cotswolds accommodation books up really quickly so you’ll need to plan as far in advance as possible.
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