Railway stations such as Gloucester, Cheltenham Spa, and Lydney provide easy access to all corners of Gloucestershire. A journey to any of this county’s jewels—like the thatched medieval villages of the Cotswolds, the vast Westonbirt Arboretum, or the majestic 11th century Berkeley Castle—is as straightforward as can be. Travel, for example, with CrossCountry trains from Manchester Piccadilly to Cheltenham Spa in 2 hours and 19 minutes. A visit to the town’s district of Montpellier, teeming with bars, restaurants, and cafés, as well as a range of shops, is highly recommended. The same destination can also be reached from Birmingham New Street railway station in approximately 40 minutes, while Gloucester railway station is a mere 10 minutes from Cheltenham Spa by train. From Cardiff Central station it is possible to travel via the CrossCountry service to Gloucester in as little as 56 minutes. Arriva Trains Wales also offers a direct service from Cardiff Central to Gloucester. Some journeys stop at Lydney immediately before Gloucester, ideal for those wanting to explore the enchanting Forest of Dean.
Five of Gloucestershire’s top destinations
There is much to see and do in Gloucestershire, starting with the main city, Gloucester. After exploring its historic charms, you can easily fan out to see the rest of the county, particularly its more rural areas.
- Gloucester: Gloucester is the county’s only city, and its railway station, the main one in the county, is conveniently located at its heart. A must-see is the magnificent Gloucester Cathedral, a medieval architectural masterpiece situated in the north of the city. The cathedral offers stunning views from the top of its tower.
- Cheltenham: The quaint town of Cheltenham is rich in history and character, but it is probably most famous for Cheltenham Racecourse, upon which hundreds of thousands descend each year for one of its 16 Jump racing events. Located about 4.5km from Cheltenham Spa railway station, some of the UK’s biggest Jump races – not least March’s four-day Cheltenham Festival – take place amid the backdrop of the stunning Cotswold Hills.
- Cirencester: A truly traditional Cotswold market town, Cirencester, with its rich Roman history (a visit to its Roman Amphitheatre is highly recommended), prides itself on its status as something of a hidden gem in this part of the world. Its nearest railway station, Kemble, is situated 8km from the centre of Cirencester, ensuring that the town retains its remote ambience.
- Forest of Dean: The 110 square kilometres of oak forest that is the Forest of Dean was allegedly the inspiration for JRR Tolkein’s 'Middle Earth'. As such, you can imagine the magic of this vast expanse of greenery. Lydney railway station is located just a few kilometres from the edge of the forest.
- Stroud: Stroud is yet another of the multitude of market towns that can be found littered throughout Gloucestershire. It's easily accessible via Stroud railway station. The Museum in the Park, originally a wool merchant’s house, is now home to various artefacts that paint a fascinating picture of the history of Stroud.
London to Gloucestershire by train
There are multiple daily trains to Gloucestershire from London. Great Western Railway service provides trains travelling to stations throughout Gloucestershire directly from London Paddington Station. Travelling by train from Paddington to Kemble takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. Kemble station is the service’s first stop in Gloucestershire. Stroud station is a further 15 minutes from Kemble, followed by Stonehouse just 6 minutes later. Twenty minutes later you will arrive at Gloucester station. From here, Cheltenham Spa is less than 10 minutes further on, and a total of just over 2 hours from Paddington station. Alternatively, you can change to the CrossCountry service and make the 18 minute journey from Gloucester to Lydney.
Continuing from Cheltenham Spa on the Great Western Railway service for a further 8 minutes will bring you to Ashchurch for Tewkesbury station. The medieval town of Tewkesbury lies on the banks of both the River Severn and the River Avon in the far north of Gloucestershire, bordering Worcestershire.