A Guide to Bourton on the Water

Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds is also known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds” and is one of the prettiest villages in England rivalling the Spa town of Cheltenham.

Built from the local golden coloured stone, the houses and cottages make a picture perfect village and a very popular tourist attraction. Many of the houses are three hundred years old and some are from the Elizabethan era, four hundred years ago.

The River Windrush gently flows through the village with neat stone banks and tree shaded greens. There are also several elegant 18th century stone bridges that cross the river and connect the many Cotswold homes, but the town dates back to 709AD with the building of a wooden church.

It was rebuilt in stone in 1110 and has a 12th century crypt. A chancel was built in 1328, and the church is still in use today.

Along with its natural beauty, Bourton-on-the-Water offers several interesting and fun entertainments for visitors including Birdland, a Motoring Museum and Toy Collection, Cotswold Perfumery, Walking tours, a Model Village and many other interesting attractions.

Birdland

Birdland is a zoo full of birds that includes penguins as well as a large variety of exotic birds. Established in 1957, it is a natural setting that is home for over 500 birds.

Storks, cranes, pelicans, flamingos, cassowary and the many varieties of waterfowl that live on the several wetland areas are just a few.

There are also over 50 aviaries of falcons, parrots, hornbills, turacos, toucans, ibis, pheasants and more.

The Motoring Museum

The Motoring Museum and Toy Collection takes visitors on an imaginary road trip through the 20th century. It’s easy to see the progression of technology over the century of the engineers and mechanics who loved the automobile and motorcycle.

There are seven galleries with vintage vehicles, classic cars and memorabilia that come alive with the sounds and smells of the earliest cars to the extravagant vehicles of the present entertainment industry. Everyone loves Brum of TV fame, and they can visit him in the museum, have their photo taken with him and even get a special ride.

Cotswold Perfumery

For over 30 years the Cotswold Perfumery, which is based in an 18th century traditional stone building, has been blending fragrances. Visitors see a charming room with a crackling fire, oak beams and ancient floors, but the idyllic scene is just the beginning of this hugely successful company that makes some of the most famous perfume brands in the world.

Model Village

Another attraction that is truly worth seeing is the Model Village that was built by a few local craftsmen in the early 1930s. It is Bourton-on-the-Water in 1/9th the size and has been painstakingly built with the local golden Cotswold stone. It includes a miniature River Windrush, a working water mill and replicas of five of the famous low stone bridges.

Model of the motor museum, Bourton on the Water

It is easy to enjoy cheap villa holidays in Bourton on the Water. Visitors use their Cotswold villas as a base to enjoy several walking tours, from casual strolls through some of the Cotswold’s famous gardens to longer hiking trails.

There are guided walking tours that give visitors a close look at the villages and landscapes in the area including Stow-on-the-Wold, Chipping Campden and Broadway. Walking tours include transportation to and from the beginning of the walk and visits to Stratford-upon-Avon (the birthplace of Shakespeare), Blenheim Palace (the ancestral home of Winston Churchill) and Oxford University. All meals are provided including vegetarian options with a picnic lunch.

Bourton on the Water is an excellent place for a relaxing holiday or weekend getaway. The natural and man-made beauty remove the stress of everyday life and the hotels, bars, restaurants and cafes join in the inviting atmosphere welcoming visitors and locals alike.

Things to Do in Cheltenham

Cheltenham began life as an Anglo Saxon village in the 11th Century.

Located in the Cotswolds, surrounded by beautiful green countryside, Gloucester also lies nearby, although protected Greenbelt land has stopped them from forming an area of conurbation.

In the 18th Century, medicinal waters were found over what is now the Cheltenham Ladies’ College – a prestigious independent school for girls. The town, with a population of around 110,000 oozes elegance and finesse.

It’s famous for its Regency architecture, cream white terraced houses protected by wrought iron railings.

See below for our top 5 things to do if you’re in Cheltenham:

Cheltenham Cricket Festival

If you’re a fan of cricket then this is a must see festival. Full of beer, sun and cricket, it could not be any better.

A great atmosphere, great food and usually great games located on the grounds of the prestigious private school, Cheltenham College. You’re surrounded by a road which makes it feel like a bit like the jewel of the countryside has invaded the urban landscape.

Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Taken place over 14 different venues across the town, the music is as diverse as where the venues are.

Contemporary jazz acts can start from gospel, salsa to flamenco. The Town Hall usually hosts local schools’ jazz bands, allowing the young talent of the area to flourish the given opportunity to perform.

Pittville Pump Room

Built on the estate of Joseph Pitt, this became the main attraction in the town in 1788 when King George III came to visit.

Today, The Pump Room is used for music concerts, poetry readings, formal black tie events as well as a back drop for famous visitors such as Lord Byron, Jane Austin and the Duke of Wellington.

The beautiful Regency style room isn’t just available to the upper class, it is more often than not hired out and commonly used for weddings and dinner events.

Montpellier and the High Street

This gorgeous area is dominated by Edwardian and Georgian town houses, lined up neatly like an army of soldiers.

Wide open spaces, not too dissimilar to spaces found in London (for example, Trafalgar Square), can be found near many of the shops on the high street.

The choice of shops are excellent, accommodating everyone and you could spend a whole day walking up and down the high street.

As an added bonus, if you visit during the Light Up Cheltenham festival, the area is illuminated with various colourful displays and they run guided tours detailing the history of the town.

Night Life

Again, based around the high street, there are tonnes of bars and pubs for you too choose from. Everything is within convenient walking distance so you won’t be running up unnecessary taxi bills!

Begin your night out in a pub such as the Beehive Inn, try some local beer and ale (from what I hear they’re excellent) before moving onto a classy upmarket bar like Bentley’s. End the night either in Blush, a trendy, chic club conveniently close to the Bus Station and taxi rank. If you prefer something a little less alternative, Sub-tone is a great place. It’s a club with the layout of a house!

So there you have it, 5 great things to do and see if you’re in Cheltenham. Be sure to check them all out, you won’t be disappointed.

B&Bs in the Cotswolds

Located in the west-central region of England, the Cotswolds is 90 miles long and 25 miles across. Known for its beautiful hills and lush scenery it is one of the most magnificent areas in the UK.

The Heart of England consists of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Warwickshire and Worcestershire counties.

If you have been thinking about surprising your partner with a weekend getaway, pack your bags and head to the Cotswolds as it has some of the most delightful B & B’s in Britain.

These are our personal favourites and, although they may be popular, you are guaranteed to have some of the nicest B & B stays of your life!

The English countryside

Byfield House

Painswick is just a two hour drive from London and is known as the gem of the Cotswolds. Featuring limestone buildings that date back to the 16th century, it was home to one of the most popular Bed and Breakfasts in the UK.

Byfield House proprietors Brett and Jill Hutton welcome guests and will make you feel like you are part of the family. If you are unsure of the area they can help you find antiques in the village, or point you in the right direction for an afternoon walk. Stay in the charming Garden Suite. Enter through your own private entrance and have a cup of tea in the delightful garden. Fully self-contained, the suite has a fully-equipped kitchen. Bring the family and stay on the second floor which has a second bedroom available. Take a walk and explore the village and have a bite to eat at a traditional English pub.

Kissing Gate Cottage

The name says it all, and if you are looking for a romantic getaway in Ebrington , just outside the famous Cotswolds town of Chipping Campden, for you and your better half then why not spend a weekend at Kissing Gate Cottage.

Upon arrival you will be treated to afternoon tea. Kick up your feet in the sitting room and decide how you are going to spend your time at Kissing Gate. You can relax on the patio with a glass of Pimms, or warm your toes in front of the cosy fireplace. Challenge each other to a game of Scrabble in the conservatory or take a walk through the beautiful garden. After a good night’s sleep you will be treated to a traditional breakfast. Expect locally grown produce with a full range of breakfast items to choose from.

If you hire a car you will be able to spend the afternoon driving around the Cotswolds before you head back to your B & B.

Bowers Hill Farm

Shakespeare fans will undoubtedly know that Stratford-upon-Avon was the writers old stomping ground and if you want to walk in his famous footsteps, book your holidays at Bowers Hill Farm which is only twenty minutes away. Owned by the Bent Family since 1904 this delightful B & B is the perfect accommodation for you and your family. To this day Martin and his wife Sarah make sure that every guest feels right at home on the farm. Every room features a comfy bed, and families are also accommodated for. When you get up in the morning you will be treated to a full English breakfast which features locally sourced food including pork sausage, succulent bacon, tomatoes ripened by the sun and delicious eggs from the hens that call Bowers Hill home. Indulge in fried bread, black pudding, porridge and scrumptious French toast. The B & B also serves fresh fruit, yoghurt and cereals.

The Old Post Office

Lovingly restored in 2007 this luxury Bed and Breakfast used to be an old post office, hence the name. More than a B & B, The Old Post Office serves delicious dinners that only source locally grown meat, fruit and vegetables. Upon request proprietors Christopher and former chef Nicola will prepare you a delicious two or three course supper.

Of course if you would like to get out and about The North Cotswolds has plenty of gastro pubs, eateries and restaurants to satisfy your appetite. Breakfast is served in the main dining room and offers guests delicious home-made scones, pastries and even porridge and kippers.

Do not be surprised if you wake up to Eggs Benedict and bacon with fried tomatoes and toast. Situated in Adlestrop, The Old Post Office is ideal for walkers. Take a tour of the old church or explore the Gloucestershire countryside. If you feel like relaxing, book a massage at the Hay Barn or opt for a body wrap or scrub. Although most people like to relax on their holidays you can take a cooking class at Dayleford Organics farm shop.

Yew Tree Cottage

Turkdean is home to this delightful cottage style Bed and Breakfast which offers guests the modern comforts of home in a unique and traditional cottage setting. Anytime of the year is perfect at Yew Tree. Enjoy a cup of tea in the garden during the warmer months and snuggle up in front of the open fire in the winter. This recently refurbished cottage provides visitors with a relaxed atmosphere and authentic home-style English cooking. You can expect home-caked cakes and breads using only the freshest local ingredients. There are quite a few local pubs and eateries where you can enjoy a bite to eat if you prefer to get out and enjoy the day. Yew Tree Cottage recommends the Horse and Groom, The Fox Inn and The Golden Ball among many others. If you do decide to dine in let the owners know ahead of time as they can prepare a delicious supper. Although only one main dish is served you can choose from traditional Steak and Kidney Pie, Pork Cutlets, Beef Stroganoff or Roast Lamb.

If you fancy splashing out on accommodation then Cowley Manor near Cirencester and Cheltenham is a place a supreme luxury. A more traditional place would be The Fleece Inn – a 15th century inn with a scriptures of history.

If you have been dreaming about the Cotswolds consider hiring a car for the trip. You can tour the countryside and indulge in activities that would be impossible if you travelled by tour bus. Spend the afternoon at the shooting range or shop for antiques in the local shires. Take the family to the Cotswold Wildlife Park where you can get up close and personal with birds, reptiles and mammals. Cotswold is called the Heart of England for different reasons, but the only way that you can find out why is to discover them yourself.

The Wye Valley

The Wye Valley is home to one of the finest woodlands in Britain, some of the most atmospheric ruins, and several rare wildlife species. It has been popular with visitors from Victorian times but it’s rarely crowded, and the position on the southern border between Wales and England makes it very easy to get to by car or by train.

The area is best known for gentle walking along the banks of the Wye and in the wooded hills on either side. Several long distance footpaths wind through it- Offa’s Dyke Path is probably the most famous but the Wye Valley walk is just as spectacular. It runs from Chepstow all the way up to the river’s source in the hills of Mid Wales, 136 miles away. Day walkers will find plenty to see too, from the high crags of Symonds Yat Rock to Tintern Abbey. There are castles, caves, traditional pubs, and panoramic hillside views.

Tintern is a typical Wye Valley town. It’s perfectly picturesque, from the restored water wheel to the village cricket green to the Old Station- once a stop on the Victorian rail line, the Old Station has been transformed into a museum and picnic spot. It was recently voted Britain’s favourite park. The Abbey lies right beside the river on the edge of town. The ornate arches of the Cistercian monastery really make this ruin stand out from the crowd and it’s hard not to be impressed by their huge scale alone.
If you’re looking for something a little more thrilling than a walk or a picnic, canoe and kayak hire is available at Symonds Yat or Ross-on-Wye. Rock climbers come to the Wye Valley from across the UK but complete beginners are welcome at the local adventure schools. There are a wide variety of ways to enjoy this part of the world.

Even a casual wanderer will almost certainly see some kind of wildlife, even if it’s only the swans on the river. Lucky ones might also see kingfishers or catch a glimpse of a shy otter. Those that venture into the woods might spot roe, fallow, or red deer, peregrine falcons, and even wild boar and polecats.

Cowley Manor

Spa in the heart of the Cotswolds

Cowley Manor is perched upon 55 acres of beautiful country side in the centre of the Cotswolds.

Surrounded by peaceful lakes and rolling green hills, this is the perfect getaway from London. Opened in 2002, this spa hotel is perfect for couples and families looking to get away from it all. There are plenty of things to keep the kids entertained while parents relax and let all the cares in the world melt away in the impressive spa.

The building itself was built in 1855 for Sir James Horlick of the Malted Milk Company. In 1930 the building was converted into assisted living for the elderly and continued this way for nearly 50 years. Because of this conversion a lot of the building’s character was lost in favour of function. This allowed the inside of the building to be updated in a more contemporary style. Fusing the new interior design and with the old style architecture gives this hotel a very distinct feel.

The main house has fifteen bedrooms, public and private rooms for entertainment and relaxation. The Stable building also has 15 bedrooms, which are quite a bit different than the main house’s rooms. The rural character of this building gave way to some very creative and interesting rooms surrounding the beautiful garden.

The public rooms have each been approached in a different way. Some are simple, like the dining room that has been lined with timber to be more in line with what you would expect of a 150 year old building. However, other rooms are much more modern, like the billiard room with its padded leather walls and the bar with very modern backlit cherry veneered panels.

A lot of thought was put into re-establishing spaces of scale and proportion in line with the original buildings. New architectural elements were thought of more as furniture within these older rooms, and where original features remained they were restored. A new glass roof was fitted to the old ‘Flower Room’ which presents guests with a spectacular vertical view of the upper two stories of the old house. There is also a vertical slot by the new staircase that allows the existing classic moulding to continue inside the building.

The spa is more of an enclosed space then an actual building. Built on the edge of the garden with a sunken courtyard and surrounded by 3 additional garden walls, this relaxation area has a very secluded feel, perfect for a quiet moment. You will also find an outdoor and indoor pool, ‘underground’ treatment rooms, steam and sauna and a gym.

All of these elements combine into a very fascinating and relaxing place to stay while in the English countryside. You can view more about staying at Cowley Manor by visiting their website.

The Fleece Inn

An Old English Specialty

Ever wanted to visit a bed and breakfast and pub that dates back to the 15th century? Well, you’re in luck if you plan on visiting the Fleece Inn located within the Cotswolds.
The property was originally built by a farmer named Byrd, but little else has changed over the years. The last member of the family died in 1977, and the Inn now belongs to the National Trust. Even with the transition to new ownership, the Fleece Inn still functions the same as before, with the only additions being new food items like pub grub, locally grown asparagus, sausage and mash and locally made faggots.
Many events take place at the Inn every year like the annual Apple and Ale Festival, Vale of Evesham Asparagus Festival, May Bank Holiday and even classic car events that people come from all over the area to participate in. Every Thursday night is also folk night, where musicians come and play for the crowd at the pub.
Experiencing what traditional British countryside life is like is what the Fleece Inn is all about, but with the addition of modern amenities that people cannot live without, you’ll still feel right at home. Booking is tight, so if you plan of visiting any time soon, you must make reservations at least a few weeks ahead of time so you’re guaranteed space. At only £97.50 per night with breakfast included, you can experience the traditional life at an affordable price, so even Michigan Used Cars buyers can enjoy what’s to offer.
One would think there’s not much else to do at the Inn besides drink, eat, sleep and enjoy the surrounding countryside. But there’s also the beautiful medieval church St Leonard’s across the village square to check out, in addition to many other village buildings.
You’d never expect a rural Inn like the Fleece Inn to offer so much history and traditional life at such a high level and affordable price, but that is exactly what you get when you visit.

Gloucester Cathedral

History at its Finest

England is full of history, most of which is deep rooted into the culture of the people that live here. In addition to many historical buildings, churches and castles, the wide open pastures and fields are ideal for anyone who’s the adventurous type.

While all of England is rich with culture and history, the Cotswolds in particular are home to one of the oldest cathedrals in the land: Gloucester Cathedral.
Built in 678 CE by an Anglo-Saxon community, Gloucester Cathedral has stood the test of time, as it has seen everything from indoctrination to coronations of kings.

Around 1000 CE, the cathedral became a Benedictine Monastery, and by 1100 CE, St. Peter’s Abbey was consecrated.

In 1216, King Henry III was the first king to be coroneted there, with several other chains of monarchies being reconnected thereafter.

Various historical ceremonies took place up until 2006, when the last known activity there was the replacement of gargoyles on the south aisle of the cathedral.
In addition to learning about the history, what else can you expect when visiting Gloucester Cathedral?

Situated in the British countryside you’ll see centuries of some of the finest architecture seen in the area, active services because the church is still operational, music and even guided tours and group visits of the cathedral, tower and surrounding areas.
If you decide to tour the grounds and cathedral in a tour or by yourself, you’ll eventually pass the east window in the Chapter House. Crafted by Christopher Whall, a key member of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century, the east window features arguably his finest work in the form of stained glass named The Lady Chapel.

The Great Hall in Harry Potter…

Gloucester Cathedral also plays a momentous backdrop to the Hollywood series, Harry Potter. The interior and many areas around the outside of the cathedral featured extensively as locations in the film series.

Considered by many to be the finest stained glass exhibition of that period in England, visitors will be able to witness one of the most beautiful examples of fine art in all of England.

So, if you’re ever in the Cotswolds, don’t forget to visit Gloucester Cathedral.

While the Cotswolds contain more sites and history than you could possibly get to in a day,  Gloucester Cathedral is one destination that you’ll be glad you fit into your schedule.