One of my favorite things about staying at a B&B is the conversation around the communal breakfast table in the morning. I love meeting new people, even (or maybe especially) people I know I’ll probably never see again, and I love talking
about myself. Exchanging stories about where we are all from and how we all came to be at the same breakfast table together is as much a part of the travel experience for me as seeing a new sight or trying new foods. I love making connections with people, but that’s not the only reason I enjoy these early morning exchanges. I learned early on in our travels that both B&B hosts and other guests could be valuable resources for gathering info on all the “can’t miss” spots in whatever town or country we happened to be staying in.
For instance, while we were staying at Manor Farm in the Cotswolds, we mentioned to another couple staying at the B&B with us that we were headed to the town of Burford to take some pictures that morning. As soon as they found out we were interested in photography, they insisted that as soon as we left Burford we needed to head to a little village just 10 minutes south of there called Bibury. And do you know, out of all the little towns and villages we visited on our Cotswolds trip, Bibury ended up being the most picturesque of them all. I hadn’t even heard of Bibury before breakfast that morning and would surely have missed seeing it otherwise.
To close out my Cotswolds series, I’d like to share a few photos from both Burford and Bibury today. Both of these towns are in the central region of the Cotswolds and really shouldn’t be missed if you’re interested in capturing the kind of classic Cotswolds shots that probably convinced you to visit the Cotswolds in the first place!
The Town of Burford
The town of Burford is nestled in the hills of the Cotswolds along the River Windrush. For me, the thing that set Burford apart from the many other towns we visited was their high street. Or, more accurately, the location of their high street. The main road in Burford is built on a hill, from the top of which there is a picture-perfect downhill view of the town with the hills and countryside rolling in behind.
Well, picture-perfect if you can cut out all the cars, anyway. Burford is busy, particularly for a Cotswold town. The high street is packed with cars and people, and while I didn’t mind the people at all (everyone was incredibly friendly in this town!), the busy road took a little something away from the Cotswolds country ambiance I was hoping to find. Luckily, Burford’s charm isn’t limited to its high street. We found lots of little side roads worth exploring.
When it comes to cottage gardens, people living in Burford are here to play. Flowers, ivy, plants, greenery of all kinds – you name it and it’s growing on or outside of everyone’s cottages in this town. I mean, you know you’ve created a photogenic house when you have to start putting signs up asking photographers not to stand so close to the windows when they’re taking their shots. (Not kidding, we actually saw that.) Some of the best cottages we saw were along Church Street and Witney Road, but we walked down countless others that were just as attractive.
Had we not stayed a little further north in Chipping Campden, I think we would have really enjoyed using Burford as our homebase. While it is very busy, the upside is that there are restaurants and cafes galore, plus it’s very easy to explore both the northern and southern boundaries of the Cotswolds from here. If you’re headed to the Cotswolds and looking to stay somewhere with both beautiful scenery and a bustling town center, this would be it.
The Town of Bibury
More a village, really, than a town, Bibury has little more to offer than the famous Arlington Row weavers cottages, but, believe me, they alone make Bibury worth a visit. Had we gotten back to London and realized we’d missed the opportunity to see and photograph these iconic English cottages, I would have been more than a little disappointed. For me, the Arlington Row cottages and the rural surroundings they are in embody the whole essence of the Cotswolds. Or at least what I had always imagined the Cotswolds to be like, anyway.
See what I mean? It doesn’t get any more Cotswold-y than this, I assure you. Built in the 1300’s for use as a wool store, the Arlington Row cottages were eventually turned into residences for weavers in the 17th century. The cloth produced by the weavers in these cottages was sent to the nearby Arlington Mill, which you can walk to in town, but not go in as it’s now someone’s residence. As are the Arlington Row cottages, actually. (Not sure I’d want to live in one of the most photographed homes in Britain, but I suppose there is something to be said for being able to call something so iconic your home!)
After we took photos of the cottages (which took forever, by the way, since I was determined to get my shots without other people in them), we took a walk down the River Coln that runs through the village. By far the most peaceful walk we took over the four days we were in the Cotswolds – if you like peace and quiet, you will find it here. Bibury is also known for its tea rooms, so before we left we made a stop inside the William Morris Tea Room and then got cake at the Bibury Trout Farm because I like to balance my sweets with more sweets. And because what else do you get at a trout farm when you don’t actually like trout?
Most people coming to the Cotswolds plan to visit more than one Cotswold town in the same day. If you’re wondering how much time to allow in Burford and Bibury, that will, of course, depend entirely on what you’re looking to do and how quickly you want to do it. For short walks and taking photos only, I would recommend allotting an hour and a half in Burford and an hour in Bibury. If you’re into antique or oddities shops, I’d tack on an extra hour in Burford. (Bibury has no real shopping to speak of.) And if you plan to enjoy a cream tea in either place, which I highly recommend you do, plan for a little extra time than normal since the tea rooms are small, especially in Bibury, and can get busy during the afternoons!
For more great places to see in the Cotswolds, check out 7 Charming Towns To Visit In The Cotswolds.
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