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The Romans founded Gloucester in AD97, and since then it has had a long history and is one of the oldest and greatest culturally significant cathedral cities of Great Britain. It is located near the M5, a useful motorway of England going north-south. Gloucester is also located off the east-west A40, which goes to Wales one way or London in the other direction. It may have been this very road that led Dick Whittington, who is said to have hailed from Gloucester, all the way to London, where as the tale goes he inadvertently became the city’s Lord Mayor. Certainly, the location of Gloucester and its accessibility make it a perfect base for some exploration of the surrounding country.
Who to Book With
Gloucester is a large town that is used to visitors and there are several car hire companies to choose from. Among these firms are Avis, Europcar, and Thrifty, which are mostly located on Hempsted Lane. To find the most convenient location and to secure the best price, you should book online in advance.
Best time to go
There is no particularly bad time to visit Gloucester, although most visitors head there during the spring or summer to make the most of the pleasant weather. In particular, you should expect increased traffic during public holidays, long weekends, and you may find accommodation tight during the Ross-on-Wye music festival in August, when many people will choose to stay in close-by Gloucester instead.
Need to Know Essentials
To pick up your rental car you must provide the following documents:
- A valid British or EU driving license, or International Driving Permit
- Your passport or another form of photo ID
- The credit card you used to make the booking
- A confirmation receipt at the time of booking
Driving around Gloucester is fairly straightforward, as a ring road of the city centre is formed by the A430, which is well signposted. There are several places to park in Gloucester, including a multi-storey site by the train station operated by NCP. This is open 24 hours per day, seven days a week, and costs £2.00 per hour, or just £10 for a 24 hour period. NCP also has other car parks around Gloucester city centre.
To get out of Gloucester, the A417 connects with the M5, or continue past Cirencester to then connect with the M4 towards London. Alternatively you can take the route A40 to London from Gloucester, or take it west into Wales. Another option for getting into south Wales is to take the A48 off the A40, which then follows the course of the mighty Severn River.
Gloucester is well served by public transport options, and has a mainline rail service running to London and other cities in the UK. There is an adequate bus network running around the city, or failing that you can use one of the many taxis in operation in Bristol.
Gloucester has excellent rail connections to London, Cardiff, Birmingham, and Bristol. The routes are mostly offered direct, but in some cases you will need to change trains at Cheltenham, just a few minutes away. The journey from Cheltenham takes ten minutes, and from there it’s about two hours to London Paddington. Check the National Rail Enquiries website for timetables.
Gloucester is well served by public buses, mainly operated by Stagecoach. Fares are reasonable, although if planning on a return journey you should always buy this type of ticket, in order to save money. You can check bus timetables using the Traveline website, which will also include any details of possible rail connections in and around the regional area.
There are plenty of taxis operating in Gloucester, willing to take passengers into suburban areas. There is a taxi rank located in the new Gloucester Quays retail area in the centre of town, although your best bet is to call one to come and collect you. You can call Gloucester Taxi on 01452 341 341.
Gloucester is in a beautiful part of Britain, the southwest of England, also known as the West Country. Verdant rolling hills await you here, and two of the country’s most important ranges are within eyeshot of Gloucester: the Cotswolds and the Malverns. If you head west from Gloucester you also reach the green and fertile valley of the Wye and Severn Rivers, which help keep the climate fresh for the Forest of Dean, one of Britain’s last remaining primeval wooded areas.
The Cotswolds - Since 1966, these have been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Apart from lush green hills, here you can sample a piece of little England by taking in the innumerous cottages of the villages that are dotted around the hills. Just head east from Gloucester, for example, to Stroud, and you’re already there.
The Malverns - These are another great range of hills that are designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They are located to the west of Gloucester, and one of the great appeals of the area is the wholesome spring water. This water is bottled and then sold throughout the country, but here you can drink it for free at many of the fountains that tap the natural mineral water.
The Forest of Dean - This is one of the country’s last remaining ancient woodlands, located just 40 minutes away from Gloucester before England becomes Wales. To get the most from the forest, you should visit during spring or autumn, where both seasons provide a grand display of rich colours and feeding wildlife.