Approaching Burford from the south, you'll experience one of the finest views of any ancient market town in the country. The main street sweeps down to the River Windrush, past an extraordinary collection of houses of various styles and ages. Burford's ancient packhorse bridge still does duty at the bottom of the hill. Hills opposite provide a frame of fields, trees, and, with luck, panoramic skies.
Though the wool trade has long since vanished, most of Burford remains unchanged in appearance, with old houses in the High Street and nearby side streets. Nearly all are built of local stone. Like many Cotswold towns, Burford has a Sheep Street, with many fine stone-built houses covered with roofs of Stonesfield slate. Burford Church (ca. 1175) is almost cathedral-like in proportion. It was enlarged throughout succeeding centuries until the decline of the wool trade. Little has changed here since about 1500.
Traders and vendors still set up their stalls under the Tolsey on Friday, where, from the 12th century, the guild has collected tolls from anyone wishing to trade in the town. It still stands at the corner of Sheep Street. On the upper floor is the minor Tolsey Museum, where you can see a medieval seal bearing Burford's insignia, the "rampant cat."
On High Street in Burford, you'll find several antiques shops, including Manfred Schotten Antiques, the Crypt, 109 High St. (tel. 01993/822302; www.schotten.com). Sporting antiques and collectibles, they also carry library and club furniture. At the Burford Roundabout, on Cheltenham Road, Gateway Antiques (tel. 01993/823678; www.gatewayantiques.co.uk) has a variety of items displayed in large showrooms. English pottery, metalware, and 19th-century furniture dominate the inventory. Unique arts and crafts items and interesting decorative objects are fun to browse through, even if you don't buy.
Three kilometers (2 miles) south of Burford on the A361 lies the Cotswold Wildlife Park (tel. 01993/823006; www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk). The 65 hectares (160 acres) of gardens and forests around this Victorian manor house have been transformed into a jungle of sorts, with a Noah's Ark consortium of animals ranging from voracious ants to rare Asiatic lions, rhinos, and leopards. Children can romp around the farmyard and the adventure playground. A narrow-gauge railway runs from April to October, and there are extensive picnic areas plus a cafeteria. The park is open March to September daily 10am to 4:30pm, and October to February daily 10am to 3:30pm (last entry 1 hr. before closing). Admission is £10 for adults, £7.50 for seniors and children 3 to 16, and free for children 2 and younger.
And before you leave Burford, we suggest a slight detour to Swinbrook, a pretty village by the River Windrush immediately to the east. It's best known as the one-time home of the fabled Mitford sisters. Visit the local parish church to see the grave of writer Nancy Mitford and the impressive tiered monuments to the Fettiplace family.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.