A Day in the Cotswolds
Earlier this year while scrolling through Instagram (yes, another one of those stories), I saw some beautiful photos from Provence, of some lavender fields in full bloom. Immediately it was another one of those ‘Yep, I need to go there’ moments.
I toyed with the idea for a little while, I mean, you could easily get there on the Eurostar, but 2018’s plans took another turn, to make way for a couple of bucket list trips in 2019. So, no lavender fields for me this year, or so I thought. One day, a photo sneaked itself into one of my social media feeds showing some English lavender fields. I hadn’t even considered that this concept would exist, but indeed it did. I started to do some research and it turned out that there were a few lavender farms relatively close to home.
One of these was Cotswold Lavender. Perfect. Not that you need an excuse to visit the beauty that is the Cotswolds area anyway, but here we had one. We were actually due to visit the Cotswolds at the very end of July, but those plans very recently fell through, and to our advantage as it turns out, for a couple of reasons.
- We’ve been having a super summer here in the UK, I actually can’t remember the last time it wasn’t sunny, or when it last rained. Not great for my garden, but great for the lavender farmers. Lavender crops are at their peak, and due to be harvested in the next week or so, meaning had we have still been visiting at the end of the month we would have missed out. Phew.
- We had planned a weekend stay in the area. Given how busy the area was on our day visit, a weekend trip in the height of summer would have been hellish, if you are not a fan of large swathes of people filling up the tiny streets of beautiful villages. Phew, again.
So, on a hot sunny Sunday, we headed off towards the beautiful countryside of the Cotswolds, cameras at the ready.
The first stop, of course, was Cotswold Lavender.
Located on the outskirts of the village of Snowshill, the lavender farm is well signposted (the brown tourist signs says Snowshill Lavender FYI) and easy to find. Open from the start of June until the start of August, it’s worth checking out their social media to find out when the best times to visit will be, depending on how the lavender is growing.
Entry fee is a bargain £4 where you can gain access to the lavender fields themselves, as well as the distillery. There is a gift shop, cafe and toilet facilities across the road from the the main fields. Peak times (such as mid July) can be very busy, so if you are looking for quiet fields for your photography, it ain’t going to happen. A bit of clever camera work and positioning can work to some degree though!
My first impressions of the farm were wonderful. I know we have been blessed with clear skies and sunshine, but the vibrant purples on show were magnificent. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Getting up close to the lavender, the scents become more fragrant (especially with the amount of people walking through it), and also the sounds of hundreds of buzzing bees working away. The colours and different varieties of lavender on display are vast. There are new plants, established plants which are at their peak, along with plants which are past their peak usage but still left to grow as a haven for wildlife.
It’s not only lavender on display at the farm, there are a couple of beautiful wildflower meadows which are lovely to walk around. So many wildflower varieties and colours on display.
I may not have made it across the channel to Provence, but I think this was a pretty good alternative option, don’t you? I believe the harvest begins on the 20th July, so there are still a few days to get down to Cotswold Lavender while the plants are in full bloom. If you are in the area, make the trip.
While we were in the area, we decided we may as well call in on some of the popular tourist hot-spots of the Cotswolds, the first of those being the scenic village of Bourton-on-the-Water.
An idyllic village known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ due to the shallow River Windrush flowing through the centre, the honey coloured stone buildings, quaint shops and tearooms all make Bourton a very busy tourist destination. Especially in the peak of summer, at a weekend and when it’s sunny!
We arrived to a busy car park and headed towards the centre of the village – a bustling street crowded with tourists packing out the shops, cafes and bars. Children and adults playing and splashing around in the river and sunbathing on the banks, my camera was poised and ready, and then I chose to switch it off. This wasn’t the Bourton-on-the-Water I had come to photograph!
We wandered away from the main street and it quietened down a little, giving us more space to wander and take in the scenery, which was indeed beautiful. I absolutely adore the architecture in this part of the country, and the care and attention people pay to the frontage of their homes and the amazing planting in the gardens is testament to the locals who want to keep it looking as beautiful as a picture postcard.
The quieter side streets of the village are a delight, and you don’t have to walk too far to feel like you are almost the only people around.
The photos above should give you an indication of why you absolutely need to visit Bourton-on-the-Water. The photos below should give you an indication of why you absolutely need to visit Bourton-on-the-Water anytime apart from the peak of summer!
Onwards to our final destination of the day, and another popular tourist hot-spot. I have to admit, that after our visit to Bourton I fully expected to arrive, see that it was too busy and leave it for another day. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. The parking gods were with us, as we arrived to the centre of Bibury to find the perfect car parking space had just become available in the exact spot we wanted to visit.
Bibury, a quintessential Cotswold village has become one of the most photographed villages in the area and also labelled as the most beautiful village in England. That is all down to one little street – Arlington Row.
The Arlington Row cottages were built in the 14th century and originally used as wool stores. In the 17th century they were converted into the weavers cottages that we see today. Crossing the River Coln and heading up the street it’s easy to see how they have become so well photographed with their beautiful stonework and crooked moss covered roofs.
Back across the river, the rest of the village also lives up to the standards of the typically beautiful Cotswolds scenery. It’s all very middle England, and feels like an old village recreated as a movie set.
There is a lot of ground to cover in the Cotswolds – far too much for one day, but I am glad we managed to make the most of a beautiful summer Sunday.
I will definitely be back to visit again, but I will waiting until low season when the crowds have dissipated and I can roam freely with my camera and get all those good shots that I was hoping too this time – I’m looking at you, Bourton-on-the-Water.
There are a wide range of hotels and B&B’s in the area, it’s recommended to book early if you do want to visit during peak season, as it does get very busy.