North Cotswolds - Burford

Burford, the eastern "Gateway to the Cotswolds" on the main road from Oxford, was once a main coaching stop and a thriving market town but that changed when the railway went through in another part of the Cotswolds. Burford is not a typical golden Cotswold-stone village, but instead is a collection of mixed styles of historic buildings. The town starts at the top of a hill and slopes steeply down to the River Windrush. The main road through town is busy, but traffic moves slowly. The sidewalks are wide and the road is wide, with parking along both sides. There are a few pretty streets off the main street.

Burford High Street

Burford High Street, looking north towards the river

We spent three weeks in nearby Windrush in May 2006 and enjoyed Burford and this area. We returned in June 2009 and spent two weeks in Fulbrook, a half mile from Burford. Burford is a charming town and you are only 15 minutes from Stow-on-the-Wold (driving).

Parking is free in Burford, along the High Street or in the large lot (east from near the bottom of the High Street).

About the Town

Walk the High Street: The High Street runs downhill from the A40 to the River Windrush (about ten blocks long) and is lined with historic buildings, some from as early as the 15th century. From the top of town there are lovely views out to the surrounding countryside. At the bottom of the High Street a one lane medieval bridge goes over the River Windrush.

Market Hall: There is a small market hall on the High Street, near the top, on the west side.

Church: The church is off the High Street, to the east, near the River Windrush. It has a Norman tower and 15th century spire.

Historic Buildings: See the Almshouses near the church and weaver's cottages by the river.

Food & Drink

The Angel (pub), 14 Witney Street. A very nice pub (with rooms above) just off the High Street. Good food. We had a wonderful lunch here on a sunny day sitting out in their large back garden. website

Huffkins (tea room), 98 High Street. Large tea room with attached bakery. This is the busiest tea room in town. Good lunches, good afternoon tea. Branches also in Witney, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cheltenham. website

The Lamb Inn (pub), Sheep Street. This is the best known pub in Burford, with good food. website

Maison Blanc (cafe), High Street. This was new on our 2009 trip. French style bakery with excellent bread and pastries. Very good coffee. website

The Priory Restaurant, 35 High Street. We had a good breakfast here. Lovely building at the lower end of the High Street. Good quality food. They have afternoon teas which would be worth trying. website

Food & Drink in Nearby Villages

Swinbrook - The Swan Inn (pub). Lovely pub on the River Windrush in Swinbrook. website (If you go for lunch, be sure to visit the church. The Mitford sisters are buried in the churchyard near the church door.)

Shops

Food Shops

There are good small food shops in Burford, including a good deli near the bottom of the street and a Budgens supermarket.

The nearest large supermarkets are a ten-minute drive away in Witney (see our list of supermarkets in the Cotswolds).

Other Shops

The High Street in Burford is lined with interesting shops: a good book store, several clothing stores, antique shops, etc.

Burford Garden Company, on the A40 going east from Burford. Food shop, garden shop and cafe. website

Cotswold Woolen Weavers: In Filkins between Burford and Lechdale. Locally made clothing, throws, rugs, cushions. website

Nearby Villages & Sites

Villages on the River Windrush

There are several pretty villages on either side of Burford, on the River Windrush. You are not far from the market town of Lechlade, so Lechlades's nearby villages and sites are close.

Asthall: A small village on the banks of the River Windrush, near Burford. The Mitford sisters were raised in Asthall Manor (Unity and Nancy are buried in the nearby Swinbrook churchyard). Nancy Mitford is well known for her novels "The Pursuit of Love" (1945) and "Love in a Cold Climate" (1949). There is a walking trail along the river to Burford. This is a nice place to experience this river. Wikipedia - Mitford Sisters

The Barringtons: Little Barrington sits on the River Windrush and Great Barrington is on the hill above. Little Barrington houses face a green area that originally was a quarry. The church has a Norman doorway and nave. The Fox is a good pub, just outside of Little Barrington, beside the river. Take a background from Little Barrington to Burford for good views of the River Windrush. Great Barrington is home to Barrington Park, a Palladian mansion and an interesting Norman church (has a clock that chimes on the hour). The house in Barrington Park is not visible but on the road north of Great Barrington, on the west side you can look through wrought iron gates to a deer park and an 18th century temple.

Minster Lovell: Minster Lovell was given the "prettiest village in the Cotswolds" award and is a nice village sitting on the River Windrush (but to me it does not seem any nicer than dozens of other Cotswold villages). The village is only a few blocks and is perfectly preserved. Visit the ruins of the 15th century Minster Lovell Manor which sits on the river.

Swinbrook: Very nice village on the River Windrush. The village church has wall tombs and carved medieval chancel stalls. Some of the Mitford sisters from Asthall (Nancy, Unity and Diane) are buried here (the graves are by the church door - on your left if facing the door).

Windrush: Small village on the banks of the River Windrush with houses around two sides of a triangular green and the Church on the other side. Church has a Perpendicular tower, a Norman doorway with a double row of grotesque beakheads and 18th century table tombs in the church yard. Look for the stone in front of the church, along the road, where people on horseback dismounted.

Villages in the Evenlode Valley

Shipton-under-Wychwood: Large village on the River Evenlode with a tall spired church with a 15th century porch.

Other Sites

Cotswold Wildlife Park: A great day out for the kids in 160 acres of park and gardens, with a zoo and a Victorian Manor House. website

Sherborne and Lodge Park & Sherborne Estate: National Trust house and estate in the village of Sherborne, near Windrush, west of Burford. 4,000 acres with water meadows, deer park, woodland, and countryside to explore. The manor house has been turned into condos, but you can walk in the estate. Lodge Park, a 17th century lodge used as a grandstand to view deer hunting in the park, is across the A40, south of Sherborne. website

Walks in the Area

Walking in the Cotswolds: Recommended guidebooks and maps for walking in the Cotswolds. We use these guides: Cotswold Classic Walks (Goldeneye), Cotswold Short Walks (Pathfinder Guide), The Cotswolds Walks and More Cotswolds Walks (Pathfinder Guides). Using those books, I listed our favorite hikes in this area below. All are circular walks - begin and end at the same spot.


Burford, Fulbrook and Widford (Pathfinder - 2.5hrs): Wonderful hike up across farmers' fields from Burford, through woods and fields to Widford on the River Windrush. You can do a detour to walk over to Swinbrook to visit the church and see the Mitford sisters graves, then have lunch in The Swan Inn. Nice walk back along the river. This is the best place to walk along the River Windrush. (The first part of the hike where you walk up through a farm field can be very muddy if it has been raining.) Same hike is in Goldeneye - Burford / Widford / Windrush Valley.

Lost Village of Widford from Burford (Jarrold Short Walks - 2hrs): This goes the reverse direction from the Pathfinder walk, starting out along the River Windrush from Burford, going up Dean Bottom, then back along a lane to Fulbrook instead of through woods and farmer fields.

Minster Lovell and the River Windrush (Pathfinder - 2hrs): Nice hike from Minster Lovell, by the remains of Minster Lovell Hall, along the river to Crawley, then back over the fields. The only odd thing was the factories above the valley near Crawley belching out some smoke, but they were off in the distance. If you are only doing one hike in this area, do the Burford hike above - it was better. Same hike is in Goldeneye - Minster Lovell - Windrush Valley.

Sherborne Park (Jarrold Short Walks - 2hrs): Trails on the Sherborne Estate, National Trust. Easy short walks around the estate. Don't walk from here to the Water Meadows because the trail goes through very muddy cow fields. Instead drive up to the Water Meadows parking and walk from there.

Resources

Photos

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