For this walk we used: Cotswold Water Park walks guide (available from the Gateway Visitor Centre for £1 www.waterpark.org) Walk 1: Tow paths, train tracks and water meadows. Distance: 6 miles approx. We went off the route slightly to visit Cricklade North Meadow nature reserve.
From the Gateway Visitor Centre near South Cerney, we headed south along the old Thames and Severn Canal tow path. There is often an abundance of wild flowers along here, attracting many different species of butterflies. Marsh Marigolds were in full bloom. We caught sight of a lone deer grazing at the edge of a field. It lay down in the longer hay coloured grass, becoming perfectly camouflaged.
It was a beautiful day, and as this area can get surprisingly hot for England, we took plenty of water with us and I wore my “Park Ranger” hat. I bought it from Cotswold Outdoor last year.
If you need any outdoor gear the shop is at the beginning of the walk, and I highly recommend it. I’d even go as far as saying Cotswold Outdoor is my idea of heaven 🙂
We continued along the tow path to Latton Basin, following the longer route on the map, and entered the North Meadow National Nature Reserve. It is here that you will find the largest population of purple Snakes Head Fritillaries in the UK in early spring. I heard about this several years ago, but this was our first visit. The flowers were a magnificent sight, their delicate heads gently bobbing about in the breeze. We easily whiled away an hour or two here.
We followed the Thames Path through a field of sheep with lambs, being careful not to disturb them too much, and on to the old railway track. This used to be the Swindon to Cirencester railway, which closed in 1964.
We turned off before reaching Spine Road to pass a pretty lake – home to the Cotswold Sailing Club. I spotted a Great Crested Grebe diving under the water catching fish. From there we retraced our steps past Cerney Wick lock and round house, along the tow path and back to the starting point.
Unfortunately, the cafe had closed by the time we got back to the Gateway Centre and I was craving an ice cold Pepsi Max. If you get a chance to go, it’s a lovely spot with great views of the lake from the outdoor seating area. They do good food too!
The highlight of the day was definitely the Snakes Head Fritillaries, making this a very special walk for this time of the year.
Our rating: 5/5