June 2, 2023

Destination: Cotswolds


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5 Beautiful Cotswolds River Walks

The Cotswolds is a wonderful place to explore, for weekend walks or to stretch your legs on some after-work strolls.

Our expert local guides have shared their top 5 riverside walks in the Cotswolds – it’s no surprise that they all start, end or pause at a riverside pub or café so you can rest your feet and enjoy the scenery as the river flows by!

1. Walk to the Source of The River Thames – Near Cirencester

With humble origins, springing up from a field in the South Cotswolds, you’ll find a plaque marking the official source of the Thames. However, only when it has been pouring with rain will you see any water at the source – making it quite difficult for those taking on the ‘Source to Sea’ challenge in a boat… luckily, walking from the source takes you on a gorgeous ramble through the countryside, through villages and past pretty riverside pubs.

Be sure to check out the stunning Cotswolds Sculpture Park for a café-stop lunch, cake and a look around the incredible sculptures!

2. Old Minster Lovell Looped River Walk & Ruins

We recommend parking up by St Kenelm’s Church in the centre of town and take a stroll through the pretty main street towards the Old Manor House Ruins. A free English Heritage Site which overlooks the River Windrush. There is a pretty 4-mile circular walk into Witney and back, through the meadows and along the winding river. Try out the Old Minster Mill for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, where you can sit and relax in dappled shade right by the river in their private gardens.

Minster Lovell dates from the early 1400's. Image: Jonathan Bickle

3. The River Windrush from Barrington to Burford

It’s 3.5 miles along the lazy River Windrush, winding through fields and meadows into the pretty market town. Stop for coffee in one of many cafés along the main street, or for afternoon tea at The Lamb hotel in their private gardens before wandering back through the countryside. The Fox at Great Barrington has good parking and makes an ideal end to your walk – enjoy a relaxed dinner or drink to celebrate the end of a perfect afternoon’s walk.

4. The Fabulous Wardens’ Way – Between The Slaughters & Bourton-on-the-Water

In lambing season you’ll pass through fields of tiny cute little lambs, baa’ing away for their mums. This is quintessential Cotswolds Walking, un-spoilt by commercialism. With a small crafts shop in Lower Slaughter, tucked away by an Old Victorian Mill and tiny museum, you can cross the River Eye by footbridge or take a little paddle across the Ford!

For a longer walk, the Wardens’ Way stretches all the way from Bourton on the Water to Winchcombe, a tasty 13 miles to the Bakery on the Water!

5. Eynsham into Oxford – Along the Thames River

This is a stunning walk along the Thames Path through meadows and along the river as the scenery gradually becomes more urban. You won’t know how close you are to the city centre until you get there! Highlights include the wild ponies grazing on Port Meadow, multiple wild swimming spots and the picturesque ruins of 12th-century Godstow Abbey.

Stop off for a pint or tea by the river, halfway through your walk at the Trout Inn. We liked this walk so much that we included it in our Hidden Hundred. 100 unique and interesting places to visit across the UK.

Punting is another great way to see the river in Oxford. Image: Ben Arthur

Like the sound of these river walks in the Cotswolds? See our full selection of guided and self-guided walking tours. Or get closer to the region, with our complete travel guide to the Cotswolds.

Experienced by


Guide and Yoga Instructor

Cotswold Tours

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