COTSWOLD WATER PARK – TOP Ten PLACES TO WALK
Walking in the Cotswold Water Park is an absolute joy. There is so much to feast your eyes on and enjoy in and around the 150 different lakes spread over 40 square miles. Experience an abundance of beautiful Lakeland countryside, wildlife, bird watching and wetland nature at its very best. You will find a new delight at every turn.
With well-marked trails, many good circular routes, both long and short, friendly country pubs, natures reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s). There are lots of lovely walks for everyone.
Find the source of the Thames and follow the Thames Path along the infant river down through the lakes, villages and country parks. Watch the wildlife and waterfowl from the edge of a lake or the well positioned ‘hides’. Look out for otters, water voles and beavers too.
There are many great walks in and around the Cotswold Water Park, many of which are also cycle trails too. These our top 10 places to walk in the area:
If you are looking to experience what the Cotswold Water Park is all about, then take a walk around the Cleveland Lakes. This vast expanse of water has been created as a nature reserve, with 30,000 reeds planted to provide a wildlife haven for fish, birds, and insects. Take a short detour up to the Reed Hide, a beautiful artist designed hide, and sit quietly watching herons, egrets and waterbirds in blissful solitude.
Riverside Park, Lechlade
This vast expanse of green fields is located on the southern edge of Lechlade, offering a great place to park, play, relax and explore. Set off on a riverside walk along the Thames Path heading either eastwards towards St Johns Lock, or west to historic Inglesham, both easy walks for families.
Seventeen of the 184 miles of the Thames National Path runs through the Cotswold Water Park, from very near its source at Kemble to the famous Ha’penny Bridge at Lechlade. Along this route there are great opportunities for walking, cycling and horse-riding. Either follow the whole route or create your own circular route – there are plenty of refreshment stops nearby such as the Wild Duck at Ewen, the White Hart at Ashton Keynes, and numerous places in Cricklade and Lechlade.
This historic Cotswold town is perhaps most famous for its church with the only complete set of medieval stained glass windows in the country, and it is well worth a visit. There are also plenty of opportunities to explore the paths in and around the town, with lakeside and riverside walks clearly marked. The Town Council produces a booklet of walks of the local area.
This large open car park on the edge of the picturesque village of Somerford Keynes is an ideal starting point for numerous walks across the western Water Park. For those who like an easy twenty minute stroll, take a walk around the lake and watch the great crested grebe and other water birds. Or head northwards along the famous Thames Path, keeping a look out for the flash of blue as the kingfisher flies along the river at low level. You can then come back through the village and stop at the Baker’s Arms pub with its lovely beer garden. For a longer adventure, walk down Minety Lane to reach the Swillbrook, and walk across open fields, past the private lake where a colony of beavers live.
Thames and Severn Canal
This canal is part of an ambitious restoration project by the Cotswold Canals Trust, evidence of which can be seen just by the Gateway Centre, where the canal has been dredged in order for boats to come from Cricklade in the future. Walking along the old two path gives a wonderful sense of history, with several locks and the unique roundhouses still visible. The wildlife along the canals can be breath-taking with hordes of dragonflies in the warm summer months, and if you’re really lucky, you may see the shy water vole.
Old Railway Track
Part of a bygone era, this railway line used to bring passengers and freight from Swindon to Cirencester until the late 1960s, but is now used as a safe off road route for walking, cycling and riding between South Cerney and Cricklade. For people with buggies and small children on bikes, it is an excellent stile free track, and can be used all year round. Unlike some of the other paths near the Thames that tend to flood in heavy rains, this path does not flood.
An ancient Saxon town with an impressive High Street, Cricklade is the first town on the River Thames, and the southern most settlement of the Cotswold Water Park. From here you can walk along the Thames, or head off towards Cleveland Lakes along the old railway track.
This lovely track takes you through woodland and meadow, past lakes and rivers, and gives a real feel of how the landscape has changed over the years. Start your journey in the village of Ashton Keynes, or at Neigh Bridge car park.