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 told us 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!

Cotswolds River Walks
  1. Source of The River Thames – Near Cirencester
  2. Old Minster Lovell Looped River Meadow Walk – River Windrush
  3. The Barringtons to Burford – River Windrush
  4. The Wardens’ Way – The River Eye between the Slaughters and Bourton-on-the-Water
  5. Eynsham into Oxford, The River Thames

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

Cycle or walk it (though its a bit bumpy!)

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 actually 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!

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2. Old Minster Lovell Looped River Walk & Ruins

The ruins by the river – Old Minster Lovell

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 looped 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.

3. The River from Barringtons 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

Thames Wild Swimming

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.    

On many of these walks you’ll be able to incorporate a dip in the river too! For more inspiration take a look at our wild swimming guide to the Cotswolds – and our 5 great spots for a wild swim. To explore some of these great walks on one of our tours, take a look at the holidays and weekends away in the Cotswolds, packed with riverside and pub walks, picnics and more!

Classic Cotswolds 6 Day Self-Guided Walking Tour

This tour encompasses the whole of the Cotswolds as well as visiting some incredible iconic locations and World Heritage Sites you could not fit in to a ‘normal’ self-guided walking trip. Visit the spectacular and historic English locations you have always wished to see, including the Royal Windsor Castle, Churchill’s Blenheim Palace, Stonehenge – both World Heritage Sites, tour the famous university town of Oxford, and take a walking tour of Bath, the World Heritage City, and its Roman Baths.

Cotswolds Way 11 Day Self-Guided Walking Tour

Return to Nature and the English Countryside on an 11-day, 10-night tour tracing the full length of the rolling Cotswold hills. 102 miles of magical walking from Chipping Campden in the North to Bath in the South, leading you from one breath-taking view to the next, immersing you in the Cotswolds’ iconic history and heritage and championing England in all its glory.

Cotswolds 6 Day Self-Guided ‘Short Walks’

With short walks each day, return to nature hiking through the Cotswolds, enjoying the freedoms of walking in at your own pace, in your own time. Immerse yourself in the history and heritage of England and rediscover the English countryside by walking on your own, as a couple or bringing friends and family to walk with you.

About Us

We create active and adventurous holidays, weekend breaks and weeks away throughout the South of England, designing tours for like-minded people looking to explore the countryside and coast and enjoy some brilliant activities. Our guests remember the ‘wow’ moments that happen every day on our trips, from feeling the wind in your hair, the spray of the sea, laughing while learning yoga on Stand Up Paddleboards, to sitting around a firepit for an evening under the stars.