The Cotswolds are a range of hills in west-central England, sometimes called the "Heart of England", an area 25 miles across and 90 miles long. The area has been designated as the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The spine of the Cotswolds runs south west to north east through six counties, particularly Gloucestershire, west Oxfordshire, and south western Warwickshire. The northern and western edges of the Cotswolds are marked by steep escarpments down to the Severn valley and the Warwickshire Avon. On the eastern boundary lies the city of Oxford and on the west is Stroud. To the south-east the upper reaches of the Thames Valley and towns such as Lechlade, Tetbury and Fairford are often considered to mark the limit of this region. To the south the Cotswolds, reach beyond Bath, and towns such as Chipping Sodbury and Marshfield share elements of Cotswold character.
The area is characterised by attractive small towns and villages built of the underlying Cotswold stone (a yellow oolitic limestone). This limestone is rich in fossils, in particular fossilised sea urchins. In the Middle Ages the wool trade made the Cotswolds prosperous. Some of this money was put into the building of churches so the area has a number of large handsome Cotswold stone "wool churches".