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by Fiona McBryde April 29, 2021

It’s official! Stroud has been named the best place to live in the UK in a recent article by the Sunday Times. Okay, it might not be perfect, but with stunning scenery, a creative energy and an amazing community spirit, this is our home and we love it here. If you are inspired to take a trip or weekend break to the Stroud Valleys, here are our personal recommendations from Soap Folk.

Minchinhampton Common

The Commons are our go-to place for a blast of fresh air (yep, it gets windy). We’re so lucky to have all this open space right on our doorstep and it’s a great meeting place for hanging out with friends. On a nice day, we’ll join the queue at Winstones Ice Cream Parlour - Mint Choc Chip is my personal favourite! - Danny

Woodchester Park

We love a trip to Woodchester Park.  When the kids were smaller we enjoyed the family trail and zip wire and rope swings and now they are able to walk further we like visiting the lakes for a picnic, walking from one end to the other and leaving a car either end, we've even walked home on one occasion.  If the (Gothic revival) Mansion is open, that is worth a visit too, particularly in the Autumn mists which add to the spookiness. (Beware the steep climb back to the car park if your kids are tiny though.) - Katy

Thistledown Campsite

Despite it only being 5 minutes up the road, we absolutely love taking the kids camping at Thistledown. The site is stunning, there is so much space and our kids have the best time making friends and climbing trees in the woods whilst we relax by the fire, reading books and drinking (not very) cold beers. The café is amazing, perfect pizzas and excellent coffees. Why would we feel the need to go further afield when we have this on our doorstep! - Jess

Newark Park

A little further afield is Newark Park - a small, relaxed National Trust property.  If you don’t fancy the inside (a former Tudor Hunting lodge) there is more than enough to keep you occupied outside. Beautiful estate walks, a good wooden play area, or even croquet on the lawn, frequently interrupted by chickens and peacocks. Bring a sketching pad or a good book, grab a cup of tea from the cafe and generally switch off from the world. Bliss! - Fiona

Stroudwater Canal Walks

This is one of my favourite things to do when I am meeting up with friends or spending the afternoon with my family. I love the part which meanders through Chalford and heads all the way out to the Daneway at Sapperton. It's so calming to be in such beautiful countryside and it's lovely to spot all kinds of wildlife. Emily

Time to squeeze in a visit to Soap Folk? 

If you are looking for a local handmade gift to take home with you, why not pop into the Soapery? Our shop dresser is open everyday, Monday to Fridays and on Saturday mornings. Or if you are staying in the area, shop on-line and have your order delivered through the Bike Drop - Stroud's sustainable courier service. Locally, we are also stocked in Made in Stroud, Truce, Jolly Nice Farm Shop, Westonbirt Arboretum Gift Shop, Gloucester Services and Slimbridge WWT Gift Shop

L-R: Travel Soap Gift Set, perfect for taking on - or back from - a weekend break, There's always something nice to pick up from the Soap Folk dresser
Fiona McBryde
Fiona McBryde

Founder. Soap maker. Never finishes a cup of tea.


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