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Bibury and Bibury Court Estate

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Bibury and Bibury Court Estate
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 10 Nov 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Bibury and Bibury Court Estate WalkingGuidestar1 Bibury and Bibury Court Estate WalkingGuidestar1 Bibury and Bibury Court Estate WalkingGuidestar1 Bibury and Bibury Court Estate WalkingGuidestar0 Bibury and Bibury Court Estate WalkingGuide
Gloucestershire, Cotswolds
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Bibury and Bibury Court Estate
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot Bibury and Bibury Court Estate WalkingGuide boot Bibury and Bibury Court Estate WalkingGuide
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A 4 mile circular walk from the popular Gloucestershire village of Bibury in the Cotswolds. The craftsman and artist William Morris described Bibury as the most beautiful village in England when he visited, so it is no wonder that it is a honeypot for tourists. The walking route follows a stretch of the River Coln, passing idyllic stone cottages, the village church and the Jacobean country house. Leaving the bustling village behind, the remainder of the route follows paths and tracks through the Bibury Court Estate, peaceful rolling hills of arable fields and a couple of sheep pastures.

The walk has several gentle gradients but nothing too steep. There are no stiles on route, but you will need to negotiate several gates and a few steps. The tracks and woodland paths are well made but are quite rutted in part and can get very muddy after wet weather and in winter. Most of the route is livestock free but you will need to cross one sheep pasture and one further pasture which is sometimes used for grazing. Allow 2 hours.

Bibury is located about 7 miles north east of Cirencester in Gloucestershire. The village does get very busy at peak times and parking is limited, so arrive early if you are visiting at the weekend or on a sunny day. The walk starts and finishes from the free parking area alongside the river bridge, between the Swan Inn and the trout farm. This has space for two coaches and about 12 cars. If this area is full, there is also roadside parking alongside the river on the B4425. Approximate post code GL7 5NW.

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Walk Sections

Start to St Mary's Church
Start to St Mary's Church

Start point: 51.7603 lat, -1.8356 long
End point: 51.7575 lat, -1.8307 long

Standing on the pavement at the back of the parking area, facing the road, turn right along this pavement and follow it as it leads you over the arched wooden bridge across the river. At the far side of the bridge, turn right along the pavement, with the river running on your right.

This is a very pretty stretch of the River Coln. Look out for brown trout swimming in the crystal clear waters. The Coln, along with Bibury Spring, supplies Bibury trout farm. Founded in 1902, by the famous naturalist Arthur Severn to stock the local rivers and streams with native brown trout, it now covers 15 acres in one of the most beautiful valleys in the Cotswolds, the Coln Valley. The crystal clear waters of the Bibury Spring provide the essential pure water required to run the hatchery which spawns up to 6 million trout ova every year.

Pass the public toilets on your left and ignore the first footbridge on your right (this is the path along which you will return later). Where the main road swings hard left, keep straight ahead into Church Road (marked with vehicle no entry signs). The road swings steadily left and leads you past the entrance for St Mary’s Church on your right.

St Mary's Church to River Crossing
St Mary's Church to River Crossing

Start point: 51.7575 lat, -1.8307 long
End point: 51.7574 lat, -1.8269 long

Stay with Church Road which swings left again at this point, leading you steadily uphill between Cotswold Stone cottages. The road dwindles to a tarmac track and leads you through a gap in the wall to reach a junction between a private road and the main road. Walk straight ahead to join the right-hand pavement alongside the main road, passing Primrose Cottage on your right.

Follow the road as it bends right and then fork right onto a lane signed to Hatherop and Coln St Aldwyns. Immediately after the cottages on your right, turn right onto a tarmac track, signed as a public bridleway to Coln St Aldwyns. Keep ahead on this access lane (marked as a Private Road) and pass through the gateway ahead.

Glance to your right now and you will have a lovely view of the buildings of Bibury Court. This 18-bedroom Jacobean country house dates from the 1500s. It was run as a hotel from 1968 until 2015 when it was converted back into a private home.

Continue ahead as the access drive leads you over the River Coln via a beautiful old stone bridge, with a pretty stepped weir just to your right.

River Crossing to Sheep Pasture
River Crossing to Sheep Pasture

Start point: 51.7574 lat, -1.8269 long
End point: 51.7483 lat, -1.8204 long

Continue on the tarmac lane which bears right immediately in front of a pretty converted barn (with dove holes in its gable and mill stones at its front). This collection of buildings was once a mill powered by the river. The lane now swings left leading you uphill, passing an old circular gatehouse on your left.

Pass through the gate ahead to enter the estate grounds of Bibury Court. A few paces in you will reach a fork in the track. Take the left-hand branch, leading you steadily downhill with a stone wall running on your left. The River Coln is now running at the far side of the fields to your left. Depending on the time of year, keep your eyes peeled for plenty of birds within these fields including game birds, heron, lapwings and various finches that devour the seeds.

At the next track junction go straight ahead, passing through another gateway, and follow the track leading you uphill through trees. At the top of the hill, pass through a gateway to reach a signed T-junction. Turn left and follow the bridleway, a woodland track. Where the track swings right into a field, ignore this and instead keep ahead on the narrower woodland path.

The path leads you gently downhill, eventually reaching another gate ahead. Pass through and continue more steeply downhill. At the end of the path you will see a choice of access ahead into a sheep pasture. On the right is a simple gate whilst on the left is a stone stile and footbridge. Take whichever you prefer to enter this sheep pasture.

Sheep Pasture to Shagborough Copse
Sheep Pasture to Shagborough Copse

Start point: 51.7483 lat, -1.8204 long
End point: 51.7449 lat, -1.8251 long

Standing at the end of the footbridge, do NOT take the most obvious path which swings away to the left. Instead take the path directly ahead, leading you uphill to reach the gate at the edge of the woodland copse, Ash Copse. Go through the gate into Ash Copse and go straight ahead on the woodland path, still climbing.

At the top of the woodland you will emerge to a junction with a choice of three tracks. Take the middle of these three, at 2 o’clock. Follow this grass track between tall hedgerows. Towards the end, the hedgerow on your right disappears and you are rewarded with some far-reaching views. You will come to a T-junction with the road.

Turn right along this road, taking care of traffic, for 150 metres and then turn right onto the signed public footpath. Follow this path with open crop fields to your right and a line of trees to your left. When the trees on your left end, go through the metal gate ahead and you will see a choice of two tracks through this grass field. Ignore the most obvious stone vehicle track, instead take the grass track (the left-hand of the two) which passes a grass mound on your left. At the far end of this large meadow, go ahead through the metal gate to join a grass track with a large woodland copse on your left, known as Shagborough Copse.

Shagborough Copse to Crossroads
Shagborough Copse to Crossroads

Start point: 51.7449 lat, -1.8251 long
End point: 51.7531 lat, -1.8415 long

Follow the track uphill between hedgerows. In autumn, the trees on your left give a particularly beautiful display of bright autumn colour. As you emerge from the trees, keep ahead on the same grass track now with a large crop field on your left. The hedgerow on your right is particularly varied and dense, making an excellent habitat for birds and other wildlife.

At the end of the first long crop field, continue ahead on the track now with hedgerows each side. Within the gaps in the trees on your left, you will notice a dry stone wall is also running on your left. Continue just until you reach a crossroads of tracks, where the stone wall on your left breaks for a gateway.

Crossroads to End
Crossroads to End

Start point: 51.7531 lat, -1.8415 long
End point: 51.7604 lat, -1.8357 long

Turn right here to join a wider grass track with an open field to your right and hedgerow to your left. The track leads you to a track junction at the corner of a dry stone wall. Go straight ahead, still with fields on your right and hedgerow on your left. Where the track swings away to the right (marked with a crossroads fingerpost), go straight ahead through the small gate and a second gate soon after.

You will emerge into the edge of Bibury village. Go straight ahead down the stone access lane between properties. At the junction with a road bear right to join this, heading downhill. At the bottom of the hill continue straight ahead passing an idyllic row of Cotswold Stone terraced cottages on your right.

This row of cottages is called Arlington Row and the water meadow opposite is called Rack Isle. The cottages along the row were built in 1380 as a monastic wool store and converted into weavers' cottages in the 17th century. The cloth produced there was sent to Arlington Mill on the other side of Rack Isle. The cloth was then hung on wooden timber frames on Rack Isle after being degreased at Arlington Mill. The cottages are now lived in by National Trust tenants. Arlington Row is probably one of the most photographed Cotswold scenes. It has been used as a film and television location, most notably for the film Bridget Jones’s Diary. It even made the national news at the end of January 2015 when a bright yellow Vauxhall Corsa parked near the cottages was accused of photobombing and spoiling the view so loved by tourists.

Just after you pass the last cottage on your right, glance over your right shoulder to notice the seahorse set within the gable end. Keep ahead to cross the beautiful old stone river footbridge and you will reach a T-junction with the road. Turn left along the pavement (which you should recognise from the outward leg). Just before the road junction, turn left over the wooden footbridge to return to the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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