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Fields of barley

August 15, 2012

Fields of barley near BiburyMoss-encrusted stone walls, open fields with waving ears of barley and corn, swathes of wild flowers, flocks of sheep grazing in meadows beside a lazy, meandering river, an excellent cream tea to finish. If all this strikes a chord, walk no 7, Bibury and the River Coln in the Pathfinder Guides The Cotswolds book provides a showcase for the best of the Gloucestershire countryside.

We embarked on this 6 mile (9.5 km) circular route on a day where light to heavy rain was forecast. Clouds filled the sky as we arrived in the village Bibury which may of accounted for the lack of tourists. During August you often cannot fit another person into one of the three Bs (Broadway, Bourton on the Water and Bibury); we eased into the perfect parking space at the Swan Hotel end of the main street. Arlington Row, BiburyPassing Japanese tourists on the footpath along the water meadows and Rack Isle, there was not a single person at ‘the most photographed cottages in England’ Arlington Row. Not a single one.

Interesting signposts

Our route took us up the hill away from the village and within minutes (past a couple of interesting signposts) we were walking on the edge of freshly tilled fields with views across rolling countryside.  A brown notice told us that wild flower seeds had been planted and areas left uncultivated both at the edges and in the middle of the fields to benefit wildlife including grey partridges, lapwings and beetles. We met a lone horse and rider, but this was the only human contact in this vast expanse.

Bibury walk

Silky ears of barley made a sea of gold, gnarled trees silhouetted against an orange field, cows peered down on us from a grassy knoll as we started to climb upwards and reach a small road. The field was edged with a Cotswold stone wall upholstered in a mossy coat; one of many we saw along the way.

Mossy wall and field edge

A large field with sheep far in the distance, flanked by trees, was a good place to sit and eat our sandwiches. The odd, large raindrop fell but it didn’t come to anything. Counting all our blessings we left the sheep behind, made a short acquaintance with some cows and calves then followed a long, straight path through a huge cornfield. The soil was heavy clay and we soon felt about two inches taller with mud-laden boots.

River Coln

Descending into a valley, the bucolic view of sheep by the meandering river Coln would have inspired Constable to take up his brushes immediately. At this point you could make a detour to the village of  Coln St Aldwyn (with a nice church and a pub). We didn’t and followed the course of the river for the next couple of miles leading us back to Bibury.  Again we didn’t meet a soul, so had no witnesses for all four of us squeezing into a hollow tree and taking ‘selfies’!

In a hollow tree

An old mill, a dovecote and some picturesque cottages eased our transition back to civilisation. Eschewing the stately Bibury Court Hotel (it looked too posh for our muddy boots despite a very welcoming sign near the path) we continued into the village.

Barley and fields of oats

An excellent cream tea in the garden of the Swan Hotel where the teens could sit comfortably in their stockinged feet made the best end to a miraculously dry and gorgeously scenic (mainly flat) walk.

Click on an image to scroll through the gallery.

Any favourite walks to share?

  1. August 15, 2012 12:47 pm

    Lovely Lovely Lovely! Beautiful images, looks like a quintessentially british ramble.

    • August 18, 2012 6:15 pm

      You got it in one – everything I love about England.

  2. August 15, 2012 5:01 pm

    Beautiful post. It must be a different experience altogether amidst such vastness… I’m slowly getting hooked to your walking on sunshine:)

    • August 18, 2012 6:15 pm

      The skies look bigger the farther North you get! Thanks for lovely comment Ishita.

  3. petrainsydney permalink
    August 16, 2012 2:51 am

    Lovely photos of the Cotswolds Sally. You have inspired me to plan a couple of walks next time I am home.

    • August 18, 2012 6:14 pm

      Thanks Petra. There are so many wonderful places to walk there.

  4. August 17, 2012 11:45 pm

    Fabulous photos…

  5. August 28, 2012 12:05 pm

    How absolutely gorgeous! So enjoying your images here. Somehow glad to see that we both are moved my the same things in the summer ;o)

  6. March 2, 2014 9:06 am

    I wasn’t able to explore it as much as you did – downside of going on a quick day tour but your photos made me feel like I did. 🙂

    Your Arlington Row photo is perfect! Not a single person in it. 🙂


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