It might be a little chilly and blustery out there but there is no better time to wrap up warm and get outside for a good walk. January’s a funny old month with the post-Christmas lull, people dieting off their gained calories and many of us undertaking a dry January. It can make for a quiet few weeks that are less sociable than others, which is why walking is such a good time this month. It’s free, it’s a great form of exercise, and it really blows those cobwebs out of your mind too. We love hiking near rivers during the winter months, they are usually full of water that flows fast during the winter months and they are often a great place to spot all sorts of wildlife, so why not choose from one of these most beautiful rivers walks in the Cotswolds this weekend?
The Risslington Round
The gorgeous town of Burford is host to a great selection of river walks because it sits close to the River Windrush. Surrounded by rolling hills and wonderful Cotswold countryside you’ll pass through wild meadows, medieval bridges, ancient churches, and inviting English pubs. One of our favourite walks in this area is the Rissington Round which takes you through the historic villages of Great and Little Rissington, passing through Bourton-on-the-Water and the River Windrush. This charming circular route is about 3.5 miles long and should take around two hours to complete. During the walk, you’ll pass the Cotswolds Carp Farm with its stunning lakes, a 12th-century church in Little Rissington, and the fishing lakes located in South Bourton. Have a peek at the boathouse before you cross over the River Windrush and head off to the coppices on the outskirts of Bourton.
Also located in the Burford area, this 5-mile walk takes you through the beautiful Windrush Valley and generally takes around 2 to 3 hours to complete. Starting at the bridleway down into the Valley, you will pass St Peters Church at Little Barrington and an old village pub called the Fox Inn, you could make this your lunch stop if you haven’t packed a picnic! Pass the church and by crossing the river you’ll end up at Barrington Farm Grain Store. The converted Barrington Mill is your next stop and it is here that you can cross many footbridges across the Windrush. The church will lead you through quiet meadows and back down to Burford. For a peaceful river walk, this will really hit the spot.
The Avon Valley Footpath
The Avon Valley Footpath is a walk of 9.5 miles following the left bank of the River Avon from Stratford-upon-Avon to Marcliff. This lovely walk can return to Stratford via the Heart of England Way and the Stratford Greenway, a 5-mile dismantled railway now surfaced for walking and cycling. The River Avon also known as the Warwickshire Avon or Shakespeare’s Avon has been divided since 1719 into the Lower Avon below Evesham and the Upper Avon from Evesham to above Stratford-upon-Avon. The river is 85 miles long and adjoins the counties of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire.
Symonds Yat is a village and popular tourist destination which straddles the River Wye. The beautiful natural river scenery and wooded expanses, plus the limestone outcrop rising some 500 feet from the banks of the River Wye, make it a beautiful spot for a river walk. The river has cut a deep gorge in the Carboniferous Limestone exposing many impressive cliff faces and it gradually winds its way around the outcrop through a deeply wooded and really beautiful gorge. At the nearby ‘King Arthur’s cave’ on the Great Doward, there have been many important archaeological discoveries including the remains of a hyena family and Saber-toothed Tiger bones. Whilst in the area we would also encourage a walk up to Symonds Yat Rock, a scenic viewpoint standing 120 meters above the river on the Gloucestershire side. From this viewpoint, it is possible (usually between April and August) to witness a pair of Peregrine Falcons nesting on the cliffside, a really special sight.
Cirencester is the largest town in the Cotswolds and lies in east Gloucestershire. This lovely market town sits on the River Churn, the first tributary river of the River Thames. It rises in the Cotswolds at Seven Springs near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and flows south across the Cotswold dip slope, passing through Cirencester and joining the Thames in the parish of Cricklade in Wiltshire, Thames. The riverside walk in Cirencester takes you past the open-air swimming pool (definitely not brave enough for a dip in this weather!) and past Barton Mill House and Stables. You’ll head over the footbridge and through Jack Gardener Memorial Gardens. From here you’ll head towards the beautiful Abbey grounds and as the walk continues you’ll see an exposed old Roman walk. This interesting walk is great for those with a particular interest in history, as well as seeing some of the beautiful Cirencester countryside and taking a lovely Cotswold river walk.