• Lucy Lambert

Bourton on the Water - Travel Guide

Updated: Jun 14, 2020

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.

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