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Hiking route

Bourton-on-the-Water to Cheltenham

Hiking route · United Kingdom
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Starting in Bourton-on-the-Water you will follow the Windrush river upstream to Naunton, passing through woods and fields before continuing on to Guiting Power and Brockley. Finally, you will pass over Cleeve Common and descend into Prestbury on the outskirts of Cheltenham.
Distance 26 km
6:14 h
334 m
380 m
317 m
75 m
Today is one of the longer days in the Cotswolds, but also one of the most rewarding. Starting in the old Roman barracks of Bourton-on-the-Water you will wind your way up the Windrush River as it courses through open green valleys, shaded woods and rolling farmland.  Passing through sleepy little Naunton, you will cross high cropped farmland with a clear view of Guiting Power ahead, home to a great cafe come antique shop. Joining the road and intermittent path east, you will head towards Cheltenham, crossing the heights of Cleeve Common with a sprawling view of Cheltenham itself. Look out for wild deer and hare at this stage of the walk, although they are timid the varied tree cover and pasture is ideal habitat and you may see them darting into the woods at the sound of your footsteps. Descending into Cheltenham via Prestbury, you are spoilt for choice in terms of pubs and restaurants in which to reward yourself after a long and eventful day. 

Author’s recommendation

Just before the Naunton golf course, there is an open field by the river which makes an excellent place to stop for lunch or a quick snack if you are planning on eating at the cafe in Guiting Power. The views back down the valley you have just walked are quite lovely.
Highest point
317 m
Lowest point
75 m

Safety information

There are some road crossings, always be aware of traffic and be sure to use a pavement/sidewalk where possible, where it isn’t walk on the right-hand side of the road,

Some of the ground can be uneven, with steep descents and muddy/boggy ground. Ensure you have suitable footwear and step cautiously where needed, the mud is especially tricky in wet weather.

A note about farms and animals: Be very aware of closing gates behind you. Remember, animals on a farm are not pets and can be closer to a wild animal than a domestic pet - particularly for dogs. The main risk today is horses as the path often crosses fields with grazing horses which can be a little intimadating. 

When crossing the streams, be wary of slippery and loose stones, if you feel unsure bring walking poles for support, and you can always find a more suitable crossing a little up or downstream.

Tips and hints

Points of Interest



The 'little Venice' of the Cotswolds, with the wide and slow Windrush river flowing directly through the centre of town. A collection of attractive houses, bridges and green grassy areas surround the river as it makes its way south. The town is full of excellent country pubs, with food varying from the hearty to the gourmet. Attractions include Birdland, The Motoring Museum for those who love vintage cars and the intriguing Dragonfly Maze, all within a short walk fo the centre. 


The Windrush river

Bourton-on-the-Water’s most prized feature is its tranquil river. Fed from many springs, its source is approximately ten miles from the village, and even in the 1976 drought, the flow continued.

The Windrush meanders through some of Britain’s most charming countryside where unspoiled fields and natural woodland complement the expression of rural England. Where the river enters the village centre, over the rapids next to the Old Mill, its clear waters flow under a miscellany of arched stone bridges past the green with its banks of Cotswold stone.


Guiting Power

A village in the heart of the north Cotswold country in the upper reaches of the Windrush Valley. There is a small village green, with a pub at either end. The village was owned by a wealthy The Cotswold Farm Park is nearby. The village is unusual for its size in having a Post Office, a village hall, a children's nursery, a bakery, village shop and two public houses. Nearby are the excavated foundations of the original Anglo-Saxon church and a large kerbed round barrow shown as tumulus on Ordnance Survey mapping


Food and Drink

There are plenty of places to eat in Bourton-in-the-Water, so picking up a packed lunch there is one option. Alternatively, the cafe in Guiting Power post office (in the centre of Guiting Power) has hot food, sandwiches and excellent locally made ice cream and is just under 10 kilometres in, making it a convenient lunch stop. The path does turn off left just before Guiting Power so you will need to walk right into the centre if you want to stop here for lunch.


War memorial, Bourton-on-the-water (126 m)
OS Grid
SP 16744 20715
51.884753, -1.758133
51°53'05.1"N 1°45'29.3"W
30U 585472 5748949


Kings Head pub, Prestubry

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km - Start with your back to the war memorial and the river facing the sign for St Lawrence Church, TURN LEFT and walk down the high street towards the church

0.83 km - When you reach the T Junction, carefully cross the road and join the Windrush Way, clearly signposted, by passing through a small wooden gate. You will follow the Windrush Way intermittently for some time, so keep an eye out for signs until informed otherwise later in the directions.

1.10 km - STRAIGHT ON through the small metal gate, follow the hedge line

1.70 km - Pass through the wooden gate, BEAR LEFT to follow the grass path

1.80 km - The path forks, BEAR RIGHT to skirt to the right of the woods

2.00 km - Come to a fork with a house in the middle, BEAR LEFT and join a small road

2.20 km - At T Junction, TURN RIGHT, still following signs for the Windrush Way, when you reach the farm, TURN LEFT into a field - the path has been rerouted to avoid the farm but this will not show up on most maps - BEAR RIGHT once in the field

2.40 km - Leave the field through a metal gate at the top of the field, carry STRAIGHT ON briefly crossing over a vehicle track and on to a path

2.60 km - Carry STRAIGHT ON following the path out of the field

2.70 km - BEAR LEFT to rejoin the old Windrush Way path as it descends into the woods

3.30 km - Ignore right turn and BEAR LEFT to stay on the path

3.70 km - BEAR LEFT through the metal gate

4.10 km - Through the metal gate and stay on path and BEAR LEFT

4.30 km - Passover the wooden gate STRAIGHT ON following the river

4.60 km - Over wooden gate and STRAIGHT ON

5.00 km - Pass through the metal gate and TURN LEFT onto a road, signposted Windrush Way, after 20 metres TURN RIGHT into a field, through a metal gate and BEAR LEFT through the field

5.40 km - Over wooden gate and STRAIGHT ON

5.70 km - Pass over wooden bate and carry STRAIGHT ON

6.00 km - Through meta gate and BEAR RIGHT ascending, ignore the left turn, now on Wardens Way to Naunton

6.20 km - At top of the field, pass through the metal gate and STRAIGHT ON through the golf course. Be careful of stray balls on the golf course!

6.70 km - Cross the road and  head STRAIGHT ON through the metal gate, descending into Naunton

7.00 km - As the path runs out, cross the wooden gate and continue STRAIGHT ON as the path turns to a small road

7.20 km - Now in the village, TURN LEFT at the T Junction ascending

7.60 km - TURN RIGHT over the metal gate and into the next field

 8.10 km - Pass into next field and carry STRAIGHT ON until you reach a road and TURN RIGHT signposted the Wardens Way

8.50 km - At T Junction, cross over and carry STRAIGHT ON, rejoining the Wardens Way path as it cuts across the centre of the field, ignore the wide stretch of grass to your right

9.00 km - Leave the field through metal gate, descend to cross the stream and continue STRAIGHT ON across the field and through another metal gate

9.40 km - At end of field, pass through the wooden gate, continue STRAIGHT ON, pass through two wooden gates onto road  and TURN LEFT at the T Junction ignoring Wardens Way signs

11.10 km - STRAIGHT ON ignoring left turn

11.90 km - As you turn the corner through Howling, BEAR RIGHT ascending on a track signposted Windrush Way

12.10 km - Pass over the gate and continue STRAIGHT ON through field

12.50 km - Pass over the gate and continue STRAIGHT ON through field

12.80 km - At end of field, pass through metal gate then a wooden gate and continue STRAIGHT ON

13.10 km - Cross wooden gate and continue STRAIGHT ON across edge of field

13.60 km - At the end of the field reach a T Junction, TURN LEFT signposted Public Bridleway, no longer Windrush Way

13.90 km - TURN RIGHT at the T Junction in Hawling, walk up to the church and pass through the churchyard, pass through the wooden gate and BEAR LEFT through the field

14.30 km - As you pass the walled property to your left, carry STRAIGHT ON over the wooden gate and into a field

14.50 km - Pass over the wooden gate and continue STRAIGHT ON

14.90 km - Pass through the metal gate, over the wooden gate, cross the road and rejoin path and continue STRAIGHT ON

15.50 km - Cross the fence and continue STRAIGHT ON into the woods

15.70 km - Cross the wall and BEAR LEFT across the field

15.90 km - Cross the low wall at the top of the field and TURN RIGHT onto the road

17.30 km - Pass-through Brockhampton, STRAIGHT ON

19.00 km TURN RIGHT at T Junction signposted for Cleeve Common at the top of the hill

20.80 km - As you reach end of the road and arrive at a carpark, BEAR LEFT through a metal gate, join a wide grass path across Cleeve Common

21.20 km - BEAR LEFT off the main path through a big metal gate, head STRAIGHT ON following the path through open fields

22.10 km - Pass through a crossroads and STRAIGHT ON ascending into the next field

22.50 km - TURN RIGHT when you reach the road

23.10 km TURN LEFT signposted Public Bridleway into the Bill Smylie butterfly reserve and continue to follow path STRAIGHT ON downhill

23.50 km - After the path has born left, head STRAIGHT ON at the junction ignoring left and right turns

23.80 km - After descending to a large metal gate, cross over the small wooden gate to the left and BEAR LEFT crossing through another wooden gate into woods

23.90 km - Pass through another wooden gate, BEAR RIGHT pas a colourful car full of plants and flowers, cross the small farmyard and through another wooden gate into a field and continue STRAIGHT ON

24.00 km - Pass through a wooden gate and BEAR LEFT into the next field

24.80 km - Pass through the metal gate and continue STRAIGHT ON into next field

24.40 km - BEAR LEFT for more open ground and then BEAR RIGHT descending between shrub outcrops

24.60 km - Continue descending to the bottom right of the field as you BEAR RIGHT, caution should be exercised as there are horses in the field

24.70 km - Cross fence at bottom of the field and TURN RIGHT

25.10 km - TURN LEFT at T Junction onto Desert Orchid Road

25.70 - BEAR LEFT at the roundabout

26.00 km - You have reached the Kings Head pub you have finished your day of walking







all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
SP 16744 20715
51.884753, -1.758133
51°53'05.1"N 1°45'29.3"W
30U 585472 5748949
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


Sturdy waterproof boots as the path can be slippery and wet in parts.

Walking poles for stream crossing and muddy descents if the weather is wet.

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26 km
6:14 h
334 m
380 m
Highest point
317 m
Lowest point
75 m


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