When you think of the English countryside, you’ll likely picture rolling hills marked by villages with quaint cottages, cozy pubs, and traditional tea rooms. The Cotswolds, an area of outstanding natural beauty in the south-west of England, is the quintessential representation of this.
With a hire car at my disposal, I decided to visit two of the most well-known villages within the region: Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water.
Having roused myself awake early that morning, I arrived in the village of Bibury just shortly after the sun had risen. It was a chilly December morning with frost coating the ground, so despite Bibury being a popular tourist destination, the village was quiet and I shared it only with a few retirees walking their dogs.
I drifted over one of the bridges that crosses the River Coln, a small river that passes through the village. The bridge led to Arlington Row, an aptly named row of Cotswolds honey-colored seventeenth century stone cottages. Arlington Row is one of the most iconic images of Bibury, as a picture of the row can be found on the front inside cover of United Kingdom passports.
Eager to continue my Cotswolds journey, my next drive required a bit of attention to avoid the farm chickens that were on the side of the road – although the farms themselves provided for a lovely country ride. After about twenty minutes, I pulled into Bourton-on-the-Water, a village that is bigger than Bibury but still compact in its own right.
As it was still quite early, I wandered around to see the many pubs and afternoon tea rooms in the village, but settled on a visit to Bakery-on-the-Water for a warm coffee.
The River Windrush passes through the village, and there are several low, arched stone bridges along the paths on either side of the river that allow you to cross. These arched bridges have led to Bourton-on-the-Water’s nickname – the “Venice of the Cotswolds“.
Walking along the river, I sipped my coffee and ambled along, poking my head up from time to time to window shop – the village has several antique shops and charming souvenir stores.
Apparently on the busiest days, the number of vistiors in Bourton-on-the-Water can outnumber the residents – which is just over 3,000 people! While I enjoyed the peacefulness of a crisp morning visit, I think the hustle and bustle of the pubs and tea rooms would be a lovely day out as well.
Does the Cotswolds seem like an area you’d like to visit?