Castle Combe: Inside the UK’s most beautiful village which locals say is being ‘ruined’ by drones and Airbnbs
and live on Freeview channel 276
Residents living in the UK’s most stunning village say the community is being ruined by Airbnbs and their privacy “invaded by drones”. Castle Combe in the Cotswolds, Wiltshire, has been dubbed one of the most beautiful locations in the UK in countless lists and polls.
The beauty spot boasts scenic walking routes and quaint old streets, untouched by time. The picturesque village is popular with tourists and has been used as a filming location for blockbusters such as Stephen Spielberg’s War Horse.
Every year, tourists flock to the popular location in their thousands, leaving residents telling many to get off their land. According to residents, the number of people who live in the village full-time has fallen in recent years - with houses that go up for sale being snapped up and used as second homes or Airbnbs.
Georgina Kingshott, 44, a post-doctoral scientist, has lived in the village since 2016 after escaping London for a quieter life. She said that tourists invade her privacy by flying drones over her home and pitch up like it is a day at the seaside.
Georgina said: “In the hotter months people pitch up like it is the beach which can be a bit annoying. People will pitch up at one of the benches and be here all day, like it is the beach.
“It is terrible because during lockdown it was great. The other bad thing is that people will fly their drones across the village. It feels very intrusive. They are not supposed to do that and there are signs up and down.
“You will wander into the garden and hear the sound of a drone and think ‘what is going on?’. There are coaches that come and do guided tours of the Cotswolds so we will have those pitch up a few times a day.
“It’s nice for us as we have the gate stopping people from coming in, but sometimes people will pretend not to see it and sit on this side of the fence which they are not meant to.
“I always feel a bit like ‘get off my land’. It can be intrusive with people running up and down.”
Anna Roberts, 60, has lived in the village for 20 years and runs a pop up tearoom. She welcomes the tourists as they boost trade but said over the years the community feel has gone from the village.
When she first moved here she said around 95 per cent of the village was filled with residents and now she claims it is around 50 per cent. One resident saying only 43 people actually live in the village.
Anna said: “There has been a lot of changes in the village over the years. When we first moved here 20 years ago, I would say that the village was 95 per cent occupied by residents.
“As time has gone on, we are now under 50 per cent occupied by residents. This is because as houses go up for sale we are finding very few people who want to move in and live here.
“We have people who buy from abroad - they buy them as holiday homes, second homes and Airbnbs. That has been one of the saddest things as it has completely changed the community for those of us who still live here.
“At one time, we knew everyone who lived in every house. It was a very good community, a close community, and there was a real family feel. Now, unfortunately, those people who live here part-time or have it as a holiday home, they don’t really get involved in things.
“It has become very different. Having the business is what keeps us here. It is a beautiful village and it’s a lovely house but at the end of the day, it is a very tourist village.
“If I didn’t run a business from here we wouldn’t want to stay here.”