Breathe in a sigh of relief at Burton-on-the-Water
England is infamous for its quaint, quiet villages set in the rolling rural hills of the English countryside. During the summer, droves of locals and tourists from near and far flock to these villages for a taste of a simpler life. I’m not normally one to follow the crowd, but today I felt inclined to follow the hoards and visit Bourton-on-the-Water.
Bourton-on-the-Water is a small cobbled stoned village nestled into a wide flat vale within the Cotswolds area of outstanding natural beauty. And, it's easy to see why. Driving into Bourton-on-the-Water you’ll see small roadside cottages, that look like they haven't changed in the last 80 years, tea shops that pay homage to the historical nature of the area and coach loads of tourist, regrettable but unavoidable.
Parking in Bourton-on-the Water can be tight so I recommend parking in the Coach Park, which is just a short distance away from the center. Coming out of the car park head right down the side alley, this little path takes you on a stroll behind St Lawrence’s Church, individual small cottages with ornate wooden doors part hidden by ivy stand proud against the pathway.
Following this path takes you onto the main street from which you can either choose to continue the stroll or pop into the Cotwolds Motoring Museum. Stepping inside the museum showcases a motoring history of the 20th Century. Described lovingly as a “car tardis” this museum is chokerblock from floor to ceiling with car memorabilia, vintage car and motorcycles collections, and motoring curiosities; there is definitely something for everyone to enjoy.
Coming out of the Museum, follow the slow meandering gate of the water and you will soon stumble upon Birdland, our next destination.
I don’t agree with caging animals of any kind so I gave this amiss, but, for those of you interested this park covers over 9 acres of gardens and is home to 500 rare and exotic birds. The aviaries are said to be spacious and engaging for their long term feathered residents and those, indigenous birds that seem to taunt them once in awhile. If you have children with you this is an informative way to spend a few hours in Bourton on the Water, be sure to take them exploring on the Jurassic Journey.
After you finish at Birdland I recommend visiting Dragonfly Maze situated just next door. Now, we’ve all done mazes, good ones, bad ones, ones we completed and ones we did not. But, unlike other mazes, not only do you have to find your way out of Dragonfly Maze you also have to solve a series of riddles and games. Not just great for your kids, but fun for adults too. Well, kid-like adults at least.
By now I'm assuming that you've worked up an appetite, but lucky for you there is a plethora of eateries to choose from. In fact, there are over 16 cafe’s in Bourton-on-the-Water area, so to help you out, here is the ‘Hit or ‘Miss’ list.
1.The Cornish Bakery, particularly well known for their vegetation pasties! Cheap, quick, tasty.
2. The Chestnut Tree, is on the high street so is easy to find, and as such is very popular. Their display of teapots hanging from the exposed wooden beams gives the cafe a somewhat eclectic feel. This Cafe has made it on the list for its excellent vegetarian and gluten free options.
3. Mary’s Rest Tea Room and Cafe, a little bit off the main path so is a bit quieter, pop in for afternoon tea and you’ll be well looked after. Everything is well made and good portion size.
Waterfront Restaurant & Tea Room, avoid. Simple. Now, having stepped into this cute little tea shop on the riverbank I was looking forward to a nice coffee and cake. There was a sign saying that the team were understaffed and with just one person inside and one outside essentially managing two kitchens it didn't take long for it to become a little bit awkward.
I presumed that a staff member was off ill or let them down last minute, but having checked out their reviews on TripAdvisor it seemed that many others had the same issue. It feels like this little place needs some true love, time and dedication, alongside new staff! So, if you happen to pop in and see more than two members of staff then by all means take a seat because the location really is one of the best. If not, I suggest moving; save yourself the time and irritation.
So, what are you waiting for?
Spending a few hours or a day in Bourton-on-the-Water is great way to spend a sunny Saturday or Sunday. Check out the activities above and then drive around visiting lots of other local villages nearby. Have you been to Burton-on-the-Water and taken part in one of the activities, or feel like I've missed something then please comment below. Enjoy!
Cotswold Motoring Museum, The Old Mill, Sherborne Street, Bourton on the Water, GL54 2BY. Entrance: £5.75.
Birdland, Rissington Road, Bourton on the Water, GL54 2BN. Entrance: £9.95.
Dragonfly Maze, Rissington Road, Bourton on the Water, GL54 2BN. Entrance: £3.