Cotswold houses England’s most charming villages

Two villages in England’s Cotswold, celebrated on Europe’s tourist map, are  witnessing teeming multitudes flock to their charming streets this summer.
Arlington Row in Bibury
Arlington Row in Bibury
Bibury stream
Bibury stream

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 “The most beautiful village in England", is how the 19th-century artist, designer and writer William Morris described Bibury in Gloucestershire’s Cotswold district of England.

The Coln, a gentle tributary of the Thames, meanders through the quaint village. Flanked by stone cottages with steeply pitched roofs, the village exudes a timeless charm. This picturesque hamlet has earned its place among the select locales of Mini-Europe, and some of its buildings grace the inside covers of British passports, immortalizing the serene beauty.

Bibury holds a distinguished place in British history, renowned as the home of the world's first horse racing club, the Bibury Club, established in 1681. This historic village, with its storied past, continues to captivate the hearts of those who wander through its charming streets. Locals claim that its charm did inspire JRR Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”

The picturesque Arlington Row cottages, built in 1380, are the crowning jewel of Bibury. Adorned with ivy and creepers, these historic cottages were once the homes of weavers. These artisans supplied woolen cloth for cleaning at Arlington Mill, now a private residence. The weavers would hang their freshly washed wool to dry along the row, once known as 'Rack Isle' or the wool store.

Marshy and lush with vegetation, the area now is a haven for a variety of bird species. The Coln teems with life, especially native brown trout. There is also a hatchery for spawning this species. Fishing in the river is strictly forbidden. Recently, a tourist attempting to angle in the waters was swiftly escorted away by police, who arrived within minutes of his casting the rod.

Burton on the Water
Burton on the Water
Coln river at Bibury
Coln river at Bibury

Come Boxing Day, the Bibury Duck Race unfolds as thousands of toy ducks are released into the Coln, which with its stone bridge, meanders gracefully through Bibury.

In summer, this tranquil, sparsely populated village transforms into a bustling haven for tourists. Locals, however, find this surge a serious intrusion into their private lives. In response, they have risen in protest, engaging in discussions to limit the number of visitors and even seeking a ban on coach trips.

Cows in Bibury
Cows in Bibury

Not far from Bibury lies another enchanting Cotswold gem - Bourton-on-the-Water. Known for its charming stone bridges, this picturesque village has earned the title of the "Venice of the Cotswold".

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