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The Cotswolds in Photos: Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton-on-the-Water In The English Cotswolds

If there was ever a place that could make putting down your camera seem like an impossible task, it would be the Cotswolds. Towns in the Cotswolds are like little fairy tale villages, each one a little different from the one before, but all fitting together to create one perfect storybook kingdom. I can’t write about all of the towns and villages we visited on our trip or I’d be writing about the Cotswolds all the way to Halloween, but I would like to share a few photos from each of our favorites, starting with Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water. These two towns are very different, but I’ve included them together here because they are so close to each other that you can easily visit both in the same day and still have time to check out some other villages if you want!


Stow-on-the-Wold In The English Cotswolds

Usually, the things that inspire us to visit a certain place are pretty conventional – maybe we want to try a certain food that a place is known for or do or see something in a place that we can’t do or see anywhere else, but this time the thing that motivated us to make a stop in Stow-on-the-Wold was a door. Or more specifically, getting a picture of a door. Definitely not your average reason for making a trip. But then again, this is no average door.

Stow-on-the-Wold In The English Cotswolds Stow-on-the-Wold In The English Cotswolds

Stow-on-the-Wold In The English Cotswolds

At the rear of St Edward’s Church in Stow-on-the-Wold is a door that looks more like something you’d find on a medieval castle than the back of a church in a busy Cotswolds town. Flanked on each side by an ancient yew tree and framed in varying shades of green moss, you’d think a door like this would lead into a church with dark rooms and lantern-lit secret passageways, but the inside of St Edward’s Church, while clean and pretty, isn’t really anything you’d write home about. The so-called “doorway to the elf world” is definitely the highlight here!

Stow-on-the-Wold In The English Cotswolds

Stow-on-the-Wold In The English Cotswolds

Stow-on-the-Wold In The English Cotswolds

Stow-on-the-Wold In The English Cotswolds

Even if you’re not into old doors or magical superstitions, Stow-on-the-Wold is still worthy of a spot on your Cotswolds travel itinerary. With side streets featuring stone cottages just begging to be photographed and a bustling main street with plenty of cute shops to explore and tea rooms to choose from, spending a couple hours in Stow-on-the-Wold is easy to do. The only thing that ruins the magic here a little is the cars. That was the case in most of the towns we visited since only a few Cotswolds towns actually restrict where cars can drive, but because Stow-on-the-Wold was so busy, it just seemed more noticeable here. If a more peaceful (albeit also more touristy) town is what you’re looking for, then you’ll definitely want to check out this next place!


Bourton-on-the-Water In The English Cotswolds

After having been in busy Stow-on-the-Wold for a few hours, Bourton-on-the-Water was a welcome change of pace. The main attraction (at least of the natural variety) is the part of town where the River Windrush flows through with tree-lined walking paths on either side of its banks. Ducks playing in the water, children tossing bread and laughing when all the ducks would come running at once, couples walking hand-in-hand, people having tea at one of the many tea rooms along the water – I am not lying when I say walking through Bourton-on-the-Water was like walking through a painting by an artist trying to capture the essence of idyllic simplicity. Bourton-on-the-Water was so peaceful and so unbelievably picturesque that even the torrential rain that came on suddenly while we were walking along the river path (and completely soaked us through our clothes) didn’t stress us out or ruin our day. FYI – In case of rain, the best choice is to duck into a tea shop and ride it out. You will find no shortage of good choices along the river!

Bourton-on-the-Water In The English Cotswolds

Bourton-on-the-Water In The English Cotswolds

Bourton-on-the-Water In The English Cotswolds

Bourton-on-the-Water In The English Cotswolds

Bourton-on-the-Water In The English Cotswolds

Bourton-on-the-Water In The English Cotswolds

There is another more touristy side to Bourton-on-the-Water that we didn’t have much of an interest in seeing on this visit. Instead, we spent all of our time in Bourton-on-the-Water either along the river or the main street since that’s where all the best photo ops are. However, if you’re a family traveling with kids, Bourton-on-the-Water is the perfect place to visit since the other side of town has all sorts of kid-friendly attractions.

Of all the Cotswolds towns we visited (except Chipping Campden where we stayed), we spent the most time in Bourton-on-the-Water. Something about this town just makes you want to sit on a park bench and watch the hours pass by (or read a book like that smart guy above). I recommend allowing yourself at least a half-day if you plan to visit Bourton-on-the-Water, and definitely don’t leave without having a cream tea by the river. Nothing beats a good cup of tea and a scone with a pretty view!

For more great places to see in the Cotswolds, check out 7 Charming Towns To Visit In The Cotswolds.

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Stow-on-the-Wold & Bourton-on-the-Water In The English Cotswolds

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  • Jessi @2feet1world
    August 21, 2017 at 7:42 AM

    Argh so pretty! I’ve only really passed through the Cotswolds so I really want to visit them properly sometime soon. I feel like autumn would be a super-pretty time for it!

    • Sarah Shumate
      August 22, 2017 at 2:28 AM

      Autumn would be beautiful! We were considering taking one of those day-trip bus tours to the Cotswolds from London, but I’m so glad we decided to road trip it on our own. It was so much more fun that way and we got to see so much more at a slower pace!

  • Lisa Michele Burns
    August 10, 2017 at 2:40 PM

    I’ve never been to the Cotswolds but I feel like this collection of images sums up the atmosphere and natural setting beautifully. So English, so pretty and so charming!

  • Vicky Dalton-Banks
    August 6, 2017 at 8:58 AM

    Such a picture perfect part of England! There is such a lovely vibe here. I would definitely sit on the bench to read and people watch!

    • Sarah Shumate
      August 6, 2017 at 8:54 PM

      I know, that guy seriously found the perfect spot! I loved the relaxed, laid back vibe in the Cotswolds. We definitely needed it!

  • Stacey @ One Trip at a Time
    August 5, 2017 at 11:03 PM

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! I just found out I’ll be spending a couple of weeks in London in September for work and my boyfriend and I were wondering which pretty English town we should visit next for a little romantic getaway. I had it narrowed down to four, including the Cotswolds, and you’ve sold me on it. I can’t wait to visit!

    • Sarah Shumate
      August 6, 2017 at 8:53 PM

      That is so cool! The Cotswolds will be perfect for a romantic getaway! Let me know if you need any suggestions. I’m happy to help! Enjoy your trip to London, too!

  • Amy | Waves + Roots
    August 5, 2017 at 8:51 AM

    That is no average door! Definitely worth the visit to Stow-on-the-Wold. I just love that picture with you in it. All of them really- you’re so photogenic, pretty lady!

    Your photos from the Cotswolds are breathtaking, it’s amazing how you’ve captured the English countryside just as I’ve always envisioned it :) I’m not much of a flower person, but the shop with all the petunias(?) blooming over the door and windows has me looking like the heart-eyes emoji over here and trying to figure out a way to incorporate a flower garden into the roof of our house plans ;)

    • Sarah Shumate
      August 5, 2017 at 9:10 PM

      I don’t normally feel very photogenic, so thank you! :)

      I think a roof flower garden is an excellent idea. When we lived in London, there was this house near our flat that had a garden of daffodils that would bloom every spring on the ledge of their first story roof. The elderly owner would lean out of her second story window to water the flowers and it was pretty much the cutest scene ever.

  • Marina Carstens
    August 4, 2017 at 7:40 AM

    That is a very majestic door.

  • Holly
    August 3, 2017 at 11:38 AM

    I’m so using this for inspo for my November trip to the Cotswolds. Beautiful pictures! I have been to Bourton-on-the-water before but I am now definitely going to explore Stow-on-the-wold on my visit :)

    Holly x

  • angloyankophile
    August 3, 2017 at 7:41 AM

    These are such beautiful photos, Sarah, and they capture the Cotswolds perfectly – one of my favorite places in the world. I fell in love with the Cotswolds when I was 13 and was visiting England for the first time … I vowed I’d come back. The English countryside is truly unbeatable! xo

    • Sarah Shumate
      August 4, 2017 at 9:49 PM

      It truly is, and we didn’t make time to see it enough while we were in London. Such a shame. When we found out we were moving to London, I imagined us spending weekends in the country all the time and, well, that was a total fail seeing as our trip to the Cotswolds was the only occasion we actually spent any quality time in the English countryside.

    • Cindy
      October 1, 2018 at 7:39 AM

      I left a piece of my heart in the Cotswolds… five different times… when I met a friend in London and we did 3 weeks in the Cotswolds. Bourton on the Water… Chipping Campden, were returning favorites… but, every village is a slice of Heaven for sure.

      I am hoping to make a return trip, in the not too distant future.

      Love this blog…
      xxx ooo

      • Sarah Shumate
        October 8, 2018 at 11:43 AM

        Three weeks in the Cotswolds would be amazing. What a great place to go and relax and just enjoy nature and the countryside. I hope you’re able to visit again in the future. I’m very much looking forward to returning myself someday!

        Thanks so much for reading! :)