Almost two decades in the UK, I’ve finally become British. What does the average Brit do when the sun comes out? Why, go to the waterside of course. Any water would do: rivers, lakes, springs or the seaside. Living in Milton Keynes, we are at least a good hour and a half from the nearest beach though.
If you were to decide midday that you’d rather spend a sunny afternoon outdoors it realistically rules out a day trip to the beach. Which was exactly the case last weekend when, possessed by spontaneous wunderlust at 1pm, we opted for a quick Google search. Looking for picturesque towns in Britain, we stumbled upon Bourton on the Water, a charming little village in the leafy Cotswolds. And off we went.
An hour and a half drive down scenic country lanes through the rolling green hills takes you to Bourton on the Water.
Regularly voted one of the prettiest villages in England, Bourton on the Water has a wealth of attractions and shops, restaurants and tea rooms. Alternatively, you can just enjoy sitting by the River Windrush and watch the world go by.
For car enthusiasts, Cotswold Motor Museum is right in the heart of town. For the outdoorsy types, the Birdlands is a beautiful park and gardens containing over 500 birds. More of a history enthusiasts? Why not opt for Bloody Bourton Walking Tours, giving you a glimpse into Bourton’s bloody past. And fun times for families come in the shape of the Model Village, one-ninth scale replica in local stone of Bourton on the Water.
If like me and Mr O, however, your favourite pastime is people-watching and photography, then wander no further than the waterside. Especially when the sun is out, the village comes to life by the river. Kids splashing around in the crystal clear waters of River Windrush, dogs playing fetch, teenagers getting ice cream, couples on romantic strolls, families enjoying a picnic.
There is of course plenty for foodies as well with independent cafes, cute tea shops, cosy pubs and swanky restaurants. As we arrived in Bourton soon after lunch, we got some ice cream before we set out discovering the village.
For an early dinner, with Doodles in tow, we opted for the dog-friendly Old Manse Hotel. Not that we needed to worry, as with the temperature in mid-twenties, it was dinner al fresco. There isn’t anything better than dining on the waterside, people-watching as you enjoy mild twilight sun and classic pub grub bangers and mash.
And if you don’t want to leave Bourton empty-handed, there are plenty of quirky local shops to pass the time and grab a find or two. The Little Nook, offering Cotswold country living ideas for your home & garden, Cedars for a range of exciting gifts, and for the bounty hunters, The Looking Glass, offering antiques and collectables – just to name a few.
Bourton on the Water is a small village you can easily go around at a decent pace in just half a day. But if you are one for completely making the most of life’s little pleasure, then go ahead, treat yourself to an overnight stay. With a range of hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation, you’re spoilt for choice.
As for us, we struggled to tear ourselves away from the riverside and hit the road, so it was dusk by the time we made our way out of town and hit the road back to Milton Keynes. Rest assured though, we will soon be back to discover more of the Cotswolds.