Bibury is a beautiful Cotswold village, near Cirencester in Gloucestershire. Furthermore, the famous street, Arlington Row in Bibury is one of the prettiest streets in England. With its traditional Cotswold cottages overlooking a wildlife reserve, Bibury has a classic, traditional charm that attracts visitors from all over the world.
William Morris once described the Cotswold village of Bibury as “the most beautiful village in England”. If you haven’t been, you may recognise it from the picture on the inside cover of all UK passports. Consequently, Arlington Row in Bibury is also one of the most photographed places in England. I was keen to discover the best things to do in Bibury and see if Arlington Row lived up to its reputation in real life!
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Arlington Row in Bibury
The main attraction in Bibury is Arlington Row, a row of picturesque weavers’ cottages. Originally built as a monastic wool store in the 14th Century, Arlington Row converted into homes in the 17th Century. Nowadays, tenants still occupy all the cottages, apart from number 9, which is available as holiday accommodation.
To get to Arlington Row, cross the little wooden bridge that spans the River Coln. It is a pretty, shallow stretch of water and if you look carefully, you’ll spot trout. Historically, the River Coln divided the village into two hamlets, Bibury and Arlington. However, nowadays the whole area is known as Bibury.
At the lower end of Arlington Row is a stone inscription informing visitors that the Royal Society of Arts bought and restored Arlington Row in 1929. Today the National Trust owns the area.
Surprisingly, Arlington Row rises on the rather inappropriately named “Awkward Hill”. It strikes me as a rather unfortunate name for such a pretty tourist destination!
Rack Isle, Bibury
To enhance its picturesque setting, Arlington Row overlooks a wildfowl reserve called Rack Isle.
This boggy, low-lying meadow is an important habitat for several protected species, including the water vole. We didn’t spot any water voles, but did see a pheasant and could hear plenty of other birds. If you go at the end of the summer, you may also see cattle grazing here.
Rack Isle obtained its name from the racks of wool drying in front of the cottages in days gone by.
After the obligatory photo session in Arlington Row, we followed the nature trail running along the perimeter of Rack Isle. This took us the short distance to Bibury Trout Farm.
Bibury Trout Farm
Bibury Trout Farm is the oldest working trout farm in England. Established in 1902, the trout farm is now open to the public and a popular tourist destination.
One of the best things to do at Bibury Trout Farm is have a go at fishing, even if you’re a beginner. If you are lucky enough to catch some trout, they have BBQs to cook your fish. If you don’t fancy fishing, you can still feed tham and enjoy watching them jumping out of the water.
As well as fishing for your own, you can buy trout from the smoke house. You’ll also find a gift shop, selling William Morris designs and a café.
Bibury Trout Farm is set in pretty gardens and will make a relaxing extension to your visit to Bibury village.
Eating in Bibury
There are several choices for eating in Bibury. Firstly, you have the Swan Hotel, a traditional country pub and hotel. This former coaching inn is opposite the trout farm on the other side of the River Coln.
Alternatively, you could try the Catherine Wheel, a family-run pub just walking distance from Rack Isle. This 15th Century inn has served the community for centuries. It has a beer garden, so you can enjoy the summer sun.
How do you pronounce Bibury?
I always want to say Bib-bury, but the correct pronunciation rhymes with bribery. It’s easy to remember, once you know!
When is the best time to visit Bibury?
As you’d imagine for such a picturesque beauty spot, Arlington Row in Bibury is a honeypot for tourists. In the peak travel season, thousands of visitors flock to take a snap of this bucolic village, including coach trips from London.
If you want to go at a quieter time, avoid the summer months and go early in the morning or late afternoon.
Getting to Bibury
Bibury is in the Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in Gloucestershire, South England. It is 6 ½ miles west of Cirencester and about 30 miles east of Oxford. It takes around 2 hours if you want to take a day trip from London.
The easiest way to get to Bibury is by car. You can take the M4 if you’re coming from London or the M5 from the north.
If you are using public transport, the nearest train station to Bibury is Kemble. This is about 14 miles away, so you then need to take a bus.
Parking in Bibury
There is limited free roadside parking in the layby by the River Coln on “The Street”. Alternatively, you can park by the Trout Farm or church.
Have you been to Bibury? We’d love to hear your comments below.
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