The city of Gloucester, England, near the western edge of the Cotswolds, rates a short visit to see the spectacular cathedral, whose cloisters were transformed into the halls of Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter films. The Victorian docks and the city's museum and art gallery are also interesting. Gloucester is located 95 mi/155 km northwest of London.

The broad valley of the River Severn and the hilly Forest of Dean, once a royal hunting forest, are rewarding rural side trips (both are west, toward Wales). Also nearby (to the south) is Berkeley Castle, a beautiful structure surrounded by terraced gardens and a butterfly house.

For something a bit different, visit the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Newent, which is 15 minutes northwest of Gloucester. You can watch flying demonstrations and even take an introductory course in falconry.

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