THE latest in the series of walks provided by Swindon Ramblers is a beautiful route which takes us from the heart of Cricklade to Cotswold Water Park and back.

Anybody who happens to have saved this page and is planning to walk the route during the colder months should be aware that North Meadow is prone to flooding, and a diversion may be necessary.

Distance: 5.5 and 2.5 miles

OS Map: Explorer 169 and Landranger 163:

Start: By car, Cricklade Leisure Centre, Stones Lane, SN6 6JW (SU094937). Bus: The 51 stops in Calcutt Street.


1 Leave the car park by a gravel path at the far end of the building. Bear left and continue on a track between playing fields and a road. After 100 yards go under a bridge.

2 This is the disused track of the Midland and South West Junction Railway. The railway, whose fame tends to be overshadowed by that of the Great Western, was founded 135 years ago on the amalgamation of two other companies. It survived well into the post-World War Two British Rail era, although like many other smaller branch systems it ceased to exist in the 1960s thanks to the growing popularity of the private car. After about a mile along the historic old trackbed, cross the Thames.

3 For the shorter walk, turn right after a few yards, go through a kissing gate, follow the river downstream and rejoin the main walk at point 11, below.

4 For the longer walk, continue and pass a kissing gate on the right, signposted as 0.5 miles to Cerney Wick. Pass a footbridge on the left signposted Ashton Keynes 2 miles, then cross a bridge above a conveyor belt for transporting crushed rocks. Soon after this, look for some steps and a footbridge on the right, signposted Gateway Centre.

5 Leave the railway track here, cross this footbridge, another footbridge, the road leading to the quarry through gates on either side, a kissing gate and two more footbridges. The path becomes a narrow, fenced track. Continue through a v-stile to reach a road.

6 Turn right and follow this winding road until just before you reach the Cerney Wick Village sign.

7 Turn left over a footbridge, signed South Cerney 2m, then after about 50 yards bear right through the kissing gate, then left over a gated footbridge. Follow the path to the right, with a hedge to the right and the lake on the left, to the far corner to find and cross a footbridge.

8 Turn right on to the canal towpath and follow this past a round house and lock on your left, and then cross the road. To your right is the Crown Inn, a popular stopping-off point for people enjoying the local countryside.

9 Carry on alongside the canal for about a mile to Latton Junction, eventually crossing a stile by a decrepit metal gate on to a track.

10 Turn right, following the track over the river and bearing right to cross a cattle grid. Pass to the left of the house by a narrow path leading across a footbridge and on to the route of the North Wiltshire Canal, which was opened in 1819. Follow the path via a long footbridge to reach the bridge over the Thames at point 11.

11 This is where the shorter walk rejoins the main route. Do not cross the bridge, but turn left down some steps to a gate before it into the North Meadow Nature reserve and then on to the Thames Path. The ancient meadow is particularly noted for its spring-flowering snake’s-head fritillary.

12 Cross the bridge and then bear first right and then left into West Mill Lane. Turn right at the junction with Hallsfield, pass Reeds and then turn right into Stones Lane and finally return to the starting point.

Refreshments along the route can be found at the Crown Inn, Cerney Wick, and at various pubs and shops in Cricklade.