From Bourton-on-the-Hill to Longborough

Star Cottage, one of beautiful old buildings along Bourton-on-the-Hills high street.

The bus we ride to Moreton-in-Marsh passes through the village of Bourton-on-the-Hill on its way, and Brett and I had been wanting to get off there and spend some time exploring the village with its large manor house, stately church, and wonderfully preserved old buildings. Our host had also recommended the pub there, The Horse and Groom. Combined with several paths leading out of the village to various destinations we decided to make a day of it last week to not only check out the village but also walk over to another village, Longborough, by way of the Heart of England footpath.

What used to be old shops and other businesses along the high street have been converted into cottages for either full-time or vacation residences.
The old rectory
This booth appeared to still be functional!
One of the many awards the village of Bourton-on-the-Hill has received.

Bourton-on-the-Hill has received many awards, including one for “best kept village.” I’m sure there must have been new buildings in the village, but all we could find were old ones, all of them lovingly cared for.

Our first destination after getting off the bus in Bourton-on-the-Hill was Bourton House, a 16th-century manor house and estate (the current house dates from the 18th century however). The grounds not only contain the grand house but a brewhouse, coach barn, stables, and tithe barn along with a beautiful three-acre garden that is open to the public from April through October. We had debated walking over to see another manor house in the area, Sezincote, but decided to pay the admission to the Bourton House garden instead.

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Suffice it to say that the garden visit was worth every penny we paid to enter (£14/$17.50). The entrance to the award-winning garden was through the large tithe barn, which contained not only the ticket table but a gift shop and tea house. Several tables were set up outside on the lawn, and the day was lovely enough that people were already enjoying tea outside, but the garden beckoned to us.

Every view in the garden was a delight for the eyes. Flowers were still in bloom throughout, and each area held something exquisite to admire, either from a distance or up close. It was not difficult at all to imagine characters from a Jane Austen novel walking through the grounds or carriages arriving up the drive for a party or a ball. We were especially impressed that the entire garden is maintained by just three people, a head gardener and two assistants. We easily spent 45 minutes there and could have stayed longer but we needed to climb back up the hill to the pub for some lunch before heading out on our hike.

The Horse and Groom sits at the top of the hill.
Besides serving delicious food, the pub also offers a boutique B&B for a stay in the village.

After a delicious lunch at The Horse and Groom (fish and chips for Brett, a stuffed pepper with spinach salad for me) we walked back down the hill a bit, then turned down a side street until coming to the Heart of England Way and headed out into the countryside. After clearing the village, the walk was primarily through lush green pastureland. Most of it was empty of animals but filled with huge, stately oak trees, but we pass a horse and of course some sheep and cows. The path was often difficult to find at times – only the faintest of footprints in the grass kept us going in the right direction.

A look back at Bourton-on-the-Hill as we headed out on the Heart of England Way.
Massive, stately oaks were found in almost every pasture.
Sometimes it was difficult to tell if we were still on the path or not . . .
. . . but eventually we would come across markers that let us know we were going the right way.
Beautiful country views could be enjoyed the entire walk.

We knew from the maps we had studied that Sezincote was in the area, and about half-way along our way to Longborough we spotted its dome peeking out through the trees. Then, after walking through a small stretch of woods and rounding a corner, there it was! Built in 1805, the neo-Mughal inspired manor is privately owned, but the house is open on Thursday and Friday afternoons for tours (May through September), and the Indian-styled gardens are open from January through October. We could see as we walked past that it would have taken quite an effort to walk there, and we were glad we had opted for the Bourton House gardens instead. It also looked as if some event was going to be taking place there (tents were set up outside and there were a few delivery trucks), so for all we knew the house wouldn’t even have been open at all that day.

We were rewarded with a spectacular view of Sezincote House, with its unique architecture and distinctive copper dome.

We finally reached the pretty little village of Longborough around 2:30 in the afternoon and headed for the village shop to get something cool to drink and to ask directions to the bus stop. When we arrived at the bus stop we discovered that 1) no bus stopped in the village that day, and 2) there was no time to either walk back to Bourton-on-the-Hill or on to Moreton-in-Marsh and catch a bus from those places. We went back to the shop to ask for the location of a payphone to call a taxi, but the shop attendant, Andrew, called a couple of taxi businesses for us only to discover that they were also booked for the next couple of hours (school runs). We were stranded. It was at that point that Andrew stepped up and offered to drive us over to Moreton-in-Marsh, an act of kindness we quickly accepted, and that cost us nothing more than a cold drink for Andrew from the refrigerator.

We were too tired and thirsty when we arrived in Longborough to do much of a visit, but we had walked for over four miles at that point.

All in all, it was a perfect day. We enjoyed gorgeous, warm weather, toured a gorgeous, lush garden, had a great lunch at a great pub, saw the stunning Sezincote manor house (from a distance), walked a good distance while enjoying beautiful scenery along the way, and were treated to a wonderful act of kindness that saved the day for us. We couldn’t have asked for more.


20 thoughts on “From Bourton-on-the-Hill to Longborough

    1. Thank you! We had a great time walking around the area – it was so beautiful, easy for us to get to, and everyone we met was so friendly. We are having the best time here (even the rainy days are a nice break).


  1. Swooning! This adventure reminds me of when we got stranded at Cinque Terre in Italy…we went there by train and in the afternoon the trains went on strike.We ended up finding a room for the night, one with the view of the sunset on the Mediterranean sea that I will never forget.As you’ll never forget Andrew for bringing you home.


    1. Yes, that day is one we’ll never forget – every minute of it was perfect, and so many memories made.

      We didn’t get stranded in the Cinque Terre, but watching the sunset over the Mediterranean from the Vernazza waterfront is something I’ll never forget either – a dream come true as a visit to the Cinque Terre was a long-held dream for me.


  2. So glad you enjoyed your day. What wonderful pictures and memories you will have. There are some very kind people about. My husband and I have actually stayed in the Brew house of the Manor, as it was a holiday cottage and was a stunning place to stay. But, what we didn’t know then was that the garden was open to visitors and on the Sunday morning after we arrived on the Saturday we were sitting on the patio in our dressing gown s and a coffee and about thirty Japanese tourists came walking down the path in front of us. It was about 10 feet away. They all stopped to take photos of us as though we were part of the open garden. We silently got up and walked inside and then fell about laughing. Enjoy the rest of your stay.


    1. OMG! That was too funny about getting photographed in your robes, but I am completely envious about your getting to stay in the brewhouse there. None of the buildings other than the tithe barn were open. I wonder if they ever will be opened for tours – I would definitely go back for that!


      1. Laura it was amazing, but we seriously didn’t know the path ran across the front of the patio.I would love to know how many photos of us sitting on the patio the Japanes tourists have!! We were quite presentable.


  3. Imagine getting stranded only to be rescued by a knight in shining armour (imagination is such a wonderful thing!). Loved your walking tour, absolutely gorgeous!


    1. That was such a great day from the weather to the sights to the people we met. I think it might have been our last day of good, warm weather though – hopefully we’ll get a couple more as there are some other walks we want to make.


  4. Another beautiful walk. I will have to look this one up when I get home as the photos won’t show on my phone due to java script. (So I’m pouting.)

    Have you bought any ordinance maps? They are very detailed and may help or reassure you you’re on the right track.


    1. We can access the ordinance surveys online now, but they’re about a clear as mud to me. We try to stick to the named paths – they’ve been pretty good about signage, and usually there are​ enough footprints we can make out to know we’re going the right direction. I’ve read horror stories about people setting out on their own and ending up doing a 12K or longer walk, a bit longer than they intended.

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