Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK began life as a market town. It became the fashionable place it is today in 1716 when the spa waters were first discovered; by people who noticed the behaviour of pigeons, it is said. Like Bath it became one of those places where people went to “take the waters.” You can still visit the Pitville Pump Room, although perhaps it should be pointed out that the waters are mineral waters and not hot springs.
Cheltenham is the western gateway to the Cotswolds, so it is close to Chipping Camden and also Broadway. Also it isn’t too far from Stratford-upon- Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare and home to the Shakespeare theatre. Evesham is also close as is Tewkesbury, all worth a visit.
Cheltenham hosts an annual International Festival of Literature and Music (Gustav Holst the composer was born there) as well as the Cheltenham Music Festival in July. The Cheltenham Literary Festival is held annually in October.
Cheltenham has lots of parks and gardens and when the plants are in bloom it is very picturesque. In 2011 the Promenade in Cheltenham was voted one of the top five shopping streets in the UK according to a poll for Google Street View. Like Chepstow, Cheltenham has a racecourse at Prestbury Park, which is home to one of the biggest racing events in the UK, the Cheltenham Gold Cup Festival which is held in March. If you’ve never been to a race meet, you might be pleasantly surprised as race courses have great facilities and you can spend a very pleasant afternoon at one, whether or not you watch the races. You can see the thoroughbreds parade in the paddock before each race and marvel at their beauty.
Like Bath Cheltenham Regency terraces and the Neptune fountain as well as one of the great eateries – Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie Blanc. In fact there are many good food places where you can wine and dine.
One of the more modern attractions in the city is the bronze sculpture of the Hare and the Minotaur by Cirencester-based Sophie Ryder, which went on public display in 1997. The hare is reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit, which could be because Alice Liddell, who, it is believed, visited her grandparents regularly in Cheltenham.
You can also walk up Cleeve Hill, which is the highest point in the Cotswolds and take in the views from the top. Cheltenham nestles comfortably beneath it.
If you’ve never been to Cheltenham, you have a treat in store!