We were looking for a little weekend getaway not far from London and after coming across pictures of the Cotswolds, home to the prettiest street in the UK, we knew we had found our next destination.
Depending on the traffic, it is only 2-2.5 hours away from Central London, and can also be reached by train and bus.
The Cotswolds is an area in south central England that lies across several counties (mainly Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire). They are characterized by a grassland habitat and the honey-colored Cotswold stone. The unique features of this region give the landscape a predominantly rural look with stone-built villages in green valleys.
We started our journey off in Bibury, where we parked close to the church and decided to wander around aimlessly as there was no cell service in the entire village. Be sure to pre-load your maps beforehand if necessary.
You often find unexpected gems when wandering off the beaten path, and for us, it was this field full of cute sheep we got to pass through ;-).
We didn’t head straight to Arlington Row but rather got lost in the upper parts of village and the surrounding fields, which ended up being a good decision as there were so many cute houses and gardens. Everywhere you turned, every new house was just as pretty and picturesque as the other. Before heading to Arlington Row, we had a picnic on a bench in a quiet corner of the village.
We then went back down into the center of the village to find Arlingtown Row, considered by many as the prettiest street in the UK. This iconic street, featured in British passports, was originally built in the 14th century as a monastic wool store. It was converted into cottages in the 17th century, which are now owned by the National Trust.
Once there, we understood why this was a favorite amongst visitors from all over the world. This little street is the epitome of British living and looks like it comes straight out of a storybook.
Once done with Bibury, we drove to Bourton-on-the-Water, a vibrant village with a quiet river running through it. We were surprised to find a busier place with much more animation and tons of people. Parking was tough to find, there were mainly big lots where they charged by the hour, but we luckily found one of the few free spots on the outskirts of the center of town. As we made our way by the bridges and the river that runs through the center of the village, we quickly understood why Bourton-on-the-Water is often referred to as the “Venice of the Cotswolds.”
We couldn’t resist having high tea at a cute place we stumbled upon, Bakery-on-the-Water. We were so pleased to find an empty sitting area in their garden by a stream! We found out as we ate that the reason why it was so empty was because there were annoying wasps trying to get their sugar fix, but not annoying enough to make us leave ;-). It was such a nice little spot to relax (and eat delicious pastries).
After spending the night in a cute hotel in Chipping Camden, and looking at the pictures we had taken in awe, I asked Tibo whether he would mind if we drove back to Bibury and Arlington Row, haha. This place was just such a fairytale and I wanted to see it twice, in a different light in the morning and hopefully, with bluer skies. We went, and the magic was still there.
General tip to my not-so-patient-self: it is so worth waiting for tourists to leave to have such amazing places for yourself and to never have to photoshop people out of pictures afterwards.
After making the most of our second visit to Bibury, it was now time to keep on exploring the Cotswolds, with stops in Naunton, Lower and Upper Slaughter, and Stow-on-the-Wold. Please come back later for an even more picturesque article!