lifestyle, travel

Cotswolds: A day in Cirencester, Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water

Hi! I hope you’re all keeping well. I’m here today with another travel diary from Cotswolds. On day two of our holiday last year, we visited three different places in Gloucestershire. Each of them had something special, and they all had their own beauty and spirit.

We started the day visiting Cirencester, one of the bigger towns in Cotswolds, best-known for its Roman history and wool markets.

Cirencester, was about 10 miles away from our hotel. We left early in the morning and it took us less than half an hour to get there. We parked our car right next to the town centre, so it was only a short walk away.

The main market square is dominated by the church of St. John Baptist. This stunning gothic church strongly reminded us of a cathedral.

Tower of the church of St John Baptist, Cirencester

The church was open to visitors, and as it was Easter Saturday, it was very nicely decorated with fresh flowers. We admired its beautiful aged interiors, paintings and stained glass windows.

As you can see on the pictures, there was a market taking place outside the church, offering lots of different products and produce, from food stalls to ones selling decorative items and garden furniture.

We were there relatively early (around 9am) and the centre wasn’t too crowded. We couldn’t see many tourists wandering around either. The atmosphere felt relaxed and the opportunities for shopping there were countless. Everyone could find their thing in there. Those who love local independent shops and/or art and antique shops and galleries have had plenty of options too.

Also, because Cirencester really is a bigger town, there were some better known brands to see, including restaurant chains.

After seeing the town centre, we walked through a picturesque narrow street with cafes and art galleries, past the Corinium Museum (which has got a collection of items from the Roman times) and the Bathurst Estate all the way up to the park.

It was another beautiful sunny day and we wanted to spend most of it outside.

The Cirencester Park is huge (covering about 3000 acres), and we could easily spend the whole day just there! But as we had a busy itinerary for the day, we only spent around an hour exploring a few parts of it – which means we have many reasons to come back!

Castle-style building at the entrance to Cirencester park

Our next stop was Bibury.

Bibury! A village that I only knew from photos. From the very famous ones of Cotswolds and/or English countryside.

You’ve probably seen them too. Which is good and bad at the same time.

It’s not too bad if you love crowds of people and queueing. And a bit worse if you don’t. But let me explain…

The drive from Cirencester to Bibury took us only 15 mins or so. Bibury is a small place and finding a parking space there wasn’t difficult. We got lucky on one of the streets near the church. Then we rushed to the centre on foot.

On our right-hand side on the main road, there were some pretty houses and cottages. Next to them was a river and meadows.

And then. THERE. IT. WAS. Arlington Row. One of the most famous streets of English countryside (thanks to postcards, Instagram and a few movies).

Arlington Row is a lane of almost idyllic, picturesque cottages from the 16th century.

Standing right on an arm of the river Coln, they create an absolutely outstanding scenery.

Arlington Row in Bibury

We did have a couple of ohhh-and-wooow moments there, admiring the beauty and age of the houses. I couldn’t stop wondering what they looked like inside.

And then, all the tourists came around and the little moment was gone. I tried to take some pictures, but none of them probably is the picture-perfect. Have a look yourself, but I promise, the best is to go there and see it with your own pair of eyes!

We continued walking the street, climbed the little hill and found ourselves back on the main road (just a little bit further).

It was almost lunch time, but we still felt full after our breakfast, so we just wanted to get something to drink, possibly a beer. We found a good spot in a nearby pub called Catherine Wheel. They had a lovely beer garden, where we sat and relaxed in the sunshine as it only just started to fill with customers.

After the refreshment, we went back down the village to visit the local trout farm.

I’ve loved farms like that ever since I was a kid. It was my grandparents who first took me to one of these back home. It’s great fun and you can usually get some nice food there too! Who doesn’t love a fresh grilled fish?

The trout farm in Bibury was relatively empty that day. We purchased two cups of fish food and walked around the little ponds to feed them. I was surprised by the size of the farm. It has got several water tanks with fish of different ages. There was enough space for visitors to have a picnic, and like in so many places in the country, your dog (on a lead) could come in too.

We spent there over an hour, unfortunately didn’t get to catch any fish as it was a very hot day and we wouldn’t have had anywhere to keep it. But I’d definitely love to try it next time we go there!

When we finally started to feel hungry, it seemed that a lot of people had the same issue. And that they all queued up at the farm’s restaurant.

We decided to try the Swan Hotel opposite instead, hoping the wait there would be shorter. It wasn’t. In fact, they had given us a table almost right away, but it took them longer than 40 mins to serves us, so we eventually gave up waiting and left.

Tired from the sunshine, thirsty and a bit annoyed that we timed things badly in terms of eating that day, we then saw what was our saviour: a pop up van with handmade crepes! The crepes were made by two very friendly local women, and tasted delicious, so lifted our moods big way!

Then it was time to say goodbye and get in our car again. The third and final town we were planning to visit that day was Bourton-on-the-Water.

Bourton-on-the-Water is a village in north Cotswolds, often called ‘The Venice of the Cotswolds’. Why? The river Windrush runs along the village and splits it in two halves that are connected with many low stone bridges which are just beautiful.

Bourton is the home of The Model Village (miniature model of Bourton’s centre), Motor Museum and Birdland Park and Gardens.

Sadly, any of the exhibits didn’t accept any more visitors, as we arrived there too late. It was a shame, but again – I would like to go back and visit Birdland one day!

Instead, we walked around the centre, and adored all the little bridges and pretty stone houses and cottages. They were mainly in the centre, the outer side of Bourton was a bit more modern looking.

It was an amazing day full of sunshine and it seemed that a lot of tourists were thinking the same as us. It was impossible to sit somewhere near the water or to take pictures without anyone. We had some food in a local pub and waited and waited for the crowds to go home. But they didn’t. Everyone wanted to enjoy this sunny day.

It was just before the Sun started to set when we said it was time to get back to our hotel. The drive back was breathtaking. The Sun was low, giving us its last sparks of warmth and light, which gave the most amazing color to the fields, trees and houses we drove past. And even when things didn’t go exactly the way we planned, we still have plenty of reasons to come back!

Have you been to Cotswolds? What is your favourite or dream destination there? Let me know in the comments!

Here are some useful links if you’re planning to visit Cirencester, Bibury or Bourton-on-the-Water:




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