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Cotswolds Travel Guide of Bourton on the Water

Lucy & Richard from Cotswolds Guided Tours love showing guests around on their private Cotswold tours & small group Cotswolds tours. For those wanting to explore the region or learn a little more about the locations we hope you find the information below useful!

Probably the most famous village in the Cotswolds & likely to be a village that many think of when planning a trip to the region. The cottages that line the River Windrush & it's crystal clear shallow waters are made up of little shops & tearooms. Occupied by the Romans & later as a farming community, this village is now aim distinctly at the tourist market. With a selection of eateries, pubs & accommodation it is well served for the thousands of visitors that return year after year.

In around 50AD the Romans were invading throughout Britain, making there mark on the landscape, Bourton on the Water took its name from the Saxon word 'burgh' meaning camp or fort & 'ton' meaning settlement. So this was where the Romans had their camp, or more aptly their 'Fort on the Water' The area known as 'Lansdowne' was where the camp was located, over the years there have been archaeological digs. One of the best finds to date, were a collection (some 300) currency bars which dated back to 300BC & are housed in the British Museum. You may wonder why the Romans decided to set up a camp here? Well the simple answer, the land was fertile, the water rain clear, the Romans were in the process of building the 'Fosseway' a major trading route connecting the South Coast to Lincolnshire (some 188 miles) so this made Bourton on the Water a strategic importance.

Three of the main stay attractions in Bourton on the Water include The 'Motor Museum' housed in an old mill adjacent to the river on the west side of the village. A "collection of rare vehicles and classic memorabilia will give you a nostalgic glimpse into life on the road." The museum was established in 1978 by Mike Cavanagh, who had amassed an impressive collection over a period of 20 years whilst living in South Africa. On returning to the UK & finding the Old Mill up for sale, he believed this would be the perfect location to house his collection & from then the museum was borne. On the east side of the village you will find the 'Old New Inn' and the renowned 'Model Village' this fabulous depiction of Bourton on the Water's buildings at 1/9th scale. Created from local Cotswold stone by highly skilled craftsmen it is the only Grade II listed model village in the country a replica of the buildings that existed in Bourton-on-the-Water in the 1930s. The Old New Inn, also offers (life size!) accommodation for those wishing to spend the night in the famous village. Lastly you can visit the Cotswolds Perfumery, which has been blending perfumes for over 50 years. A fabulous example of a Cotswolds entrepreneur, John Stephen's who turned his hobby into a business in 1965. In present day you can book in for perfumery courses, explore the shop & soak up the atmosphere of this oaked beamed 300 year old, Grade II listed building. 

As you wander through Bourton on the Water you will note the little bridges trapezing over the River Windrush, there are 5 in total in the centre of the village. Locally the village is described as the 'Venice of the Cotswolds' (although there won't be a gondola in sight!) Over the August Bank Holiday weekend an unusual sport takes place in the river, 'Football in the Water' where two local teams compete in the freezing knee-high water. Beware on occasions it would appear that the players are just as happy to get the spectators as wet as they can, as they are to score a goal.

Bourton on the Water is a great base for exploring the local area, with wonderful walks through open countryside. The Slaughter's (Lower & Upper) are a few miles to the west of the village. Notgrove is a hillside village a complete parallel to the hustle & bustle of Bourton. There is a good selection of buses, for day trips to Bibury, Cirencester to the South or Stow on the Wold & Moreton in Marsh to the North. A few doors along from the Cotswolds Perfumery, you have the tourist information centre & font of knowledge for guests staying within the town. 

Public Transport:

Pulhams Buses, run the 801 service from Cheltenham to Moreton in Marsh, which stops in Bourton on the Water & Stow on the Wold. Pulhams Buses, run the 855 service from Bourton on the Water to Cirencester, which stops in Northleach & Bibury.

Beautiful places surrounding Bourton on the Water

Visit beautiful villages with a local Cotswolds tour guide

Lower Slaughter

One of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds, with a pub, manor house & the old mill serving delicious ice creams from its tiny but well stocked shop

Hidden villages Cotswolds tour


Remote hillside farming village, a tranquil escape with pretty cottages around a rough village green

Best Cotswolds Guided Tours

Upper Slaughter

Quieter than its neighbour (Lower Slaughter) this is the perfect picnic stop on your circular walk from Bourton on the Water

Places to stay Bourton on the Water

A wonderful selection of places to stay can be found in this famous village, we have listed some of our favourites.  A short walk from the main hub of the village, making this B&B a fabulous retreat is Coombe House, with four ensuite guest rooms, Dawn & David have created a welcoming base for travellers to enjoy.  Harrington House, home of the walking holidays group makes a perfect base, recently refurbished & ready to welcome you. Also in the centre of the village is Chester House Hotel, with 22 rooms & restaurant an easy location to unwind after a day exploring the local sights.

Please Note, Cotswolds Guided Tours is providing accommodation options as a guide only these are not recommendations but for information purposes, it is not an exhaustive list and we advise you seek out reviews before booking to ensure you are happy with your selection

Coombe House B&B Bourton on the Water Cotswolds Tour

coombe house
Bourton on the water

You are guaranteed a warm welcome from Dawn & David in this wonderful Bed & Breakfast

Places to stay Bourton ont the Water Cotswolds Tour

Harrington House
Bourton on the Water

Harrington House provides a stylish escape in the form of a traditional country retreat

Cotswolds Hotel stay and tour

Chester House Hotel
bourton on the water

Chester House Hotel is a 22 bedroom privately run hotel. With a contemporary country style.

Find more great places to go with Cotswolds Guided Tours 

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