Whatever you and your kids are into, you can probably find it in and around Stroud. Outdoors, indoors, sporty, arty, geeky, far out or freaky, there’s so much to do here! Blue Badge Guide Steve Hill gives us the low-down.
Stroud is not a twee prettified Cotswold town, but a nitty-gritty working one. It bursts at the seams with art, music, poetry, dancing, books, theatre, nature walks, eco-events, and festivals. Sometimes all on the same day! It is surrounded by stunning countryside which has inspired and attracted artists, craftspeople, poets, musicians and writers for generations. Some of them are still here. We are famous for our cloth-making, our rich fossil areas, inventing the lawn mower, and doing things ever so slightly differently, which is usually described as: “That’s soooo Stroud!”
Here are my Famous Five things/places you’ll find hard not to enjoy with the kids in Stroud and the Valleys:
The very child-friendly Museum in the Park set in the lovely Stratford Park. Come in and check out the fabulous fossils, the world’s first lawn mower, have a go at a free trail, stroll around the award winning walled garden, or take part in one of the many drop-in activities, workshops or talks. Then maybe feed the ducks, have a stroll around the lake, or have fun in the children’s play area. The Museum co-hosts many events with local festivals, charities and community groups.
A fantastic place to get some air and exercise for the dog too. Stratford Park is very popular and close to the town centre. Why not go for a swim at the Leisure Centre, pop in the museum, then enjoy the Arboretum and woodland walk? Summer Sundays feature music on the bandstand, and the mini-railway service. There is also a 1930s style outdoor pool.
We are proud to have one of the world`s very first canal companies, which gives its name to our brilliant refurbished Stroudwater canal. Another great place for walks, cycling, or a boat trip, long or short. There is a terrific variety of wildlife to spot along the way and you may be lucky enough to see an otter. And maybe a coffee stop at Ebley, where you can see the Old Mill, now the council offices, and in the background, the spire of the Arts and Crafts Church at Selsley.
Walkers, cyclists, wildlife and nature enthusiasts are spoilt for choice here. Stroud’s exceptional Uplands and Commons are a paradise for anyone who loves the outdoors, or just wants some open space to explore with the family. The Cotswold Way passes through here. Incidentally, it`s a long-standing local tradition that visitors should have an ice cream at Winstone`s Ice Cream Factory on Rodborough Common. It’s almost a law! Coaley Peak, Uley Bury, Stinchcombe are not far away, and the spookily weird and wonderful Woodchester Mansion is nearby. Watch out for the ghost.
5 Festivals and markets
From classic cars, to curious beasts, there are festival stars aplenty in Stroud. You name it, we may well have it! We will leave you to browse!
- Stroud Wassail
- Stroud Children’s Festival
- Stroud Book Festival
- Big Nature Festival in the Park
- Stroud Film Festival
- Stroud Folk Festival
- Visual Arts Select Festival
- Sacred Music Festival
- Stroud Classic Car Show
- Stoud Show
- Stroud Fringe
- The Stroud Subscription Rooms are a focal point in the town, hosting the TIC and all sorts of events too numerous and varied to mention. And yes, The Beatles did play here.
- The Saturday morning Stroud Farmers Market is a great place to meet and wander and buy organic or niche, and there are also lots of food stalls to keep you going. And Stroud Shambles Market is just around the corner.
Younger children can Go Bananas at Go Bananas kids activity centre on the canal at Ebley, and Stroud Library in town has a nice warm space for kids to read or be read to. There are lots of interesting and child-friendly small shops and cafes, many of the latter offering excellent vegetarian and vegan food.
Top tips for visiting Stroud with children
- Bring stout all weather walking clothing. And picnic stuff.
- Pack some ‘non-fancy’ clothes for potential art/craft workshops (very bright colours welcome!)
- Bring your bikes if possible
- Pack frisbees, balls, racquets, any outdoor play items, and some indoor ones. Drawing, writing materials. Plus swimwear, goggles, towels. The dog.
- Consider leaving the car at the hotel / b&b, use the bus, trains for days out in the countryside, especially if a pub lunch is on the cards. Some of them are very tempting. Local and regional day riders and family tickets are available.
- Bring a sense of humour and curiosity – and a poem, or limerick, if you have one….seriously!