Coaches like these are facing a ban from Bourton-on-the-Water, a village of just over 3,000 residents which attracts huge numbers of tourists. Some 238,000 visitors come to Bourton every year, lapping up the sights and sounds of the medieval village with its picturesque Cotswolds limestone houses, shallow River Windrush – perfect for paddling – and old-fashioned British pub grub.

The proposed ban would prevent coach access, but hasn’t yet been officially signed off by the highways authority at Gloucestershire County Council. Nevertheless, a de facto ban has already been implemented.

A former car park near the town centre was closed in December, and its replacement, opened in February, doesn’t have spots for coaches to park. They must either use unofficial drop-off points which are fiddly to turn around in, or – as we’re doing – skip Bourton entirely.

‘It’s only them that’ll lose out’

“It is a shame,” says Sue, who has travelled from South Australia with her 11-year-old grandson. “I visited once, probably about 30 years ago, and it’s a very pretty town. But they’re all very pretty. If they don’t want tourists there, there are plenty of other places to visit. I’m not too disappointed.”

“I think it’s ridiculous,” says Lavery, when I ask him about the plans. “It’s only them that’ll lose out. Bourton-on-the-Water is lovely and very picturesque, but there’s nothing there. If they shut out tourists the whole village will just collapse. All the pubs, cafes, restaurants, shops – gone.”

Instead, we’re spending more time in the surrounding villages: Burford, Stow-on-the-Wold and Bibury, our “prettiest village in Britain” lunch stop.

The two-hour journey out of London and into the Cotswolds is fairly nondescript, yet Lavery keeps us entertained with a stream of facts and anecdotes, taking in everything from the famous residents of the Cotswolds to the sheep farming scene.

“I love it, it’s so cute!” exclaims Jessica, a “50-something” Californian. Though she has visited the UK once before, this is her first time outside of London and she “can’t get over how pretty it is”.

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