For this walk we used: Pathfinder Guides – The Cotswolds (Published 2009) Walk 25: Bourton-on-the-Water, the Slaughters and Naunton. Distance: 10 miles.
The walk begins at Bourton-on-the-Water, but we parked at Lower Slaughter instead and picked up the route alongside the River Eye. Lower Slaughter is a beautiful old sleepy Cotswold village with an attractive and much photographed mill which is also the site of a gift shop and tearoom. We passed the mill buildings and walked across pretty fields towards Upper Slaughter. This part of the walk was busy, being a popular tourist route, but as we headed further out into the countryside it was quieter.
At Naunton we crossed over the River Windrush and rested next to a footpath with stunning views of the valley, and a bright red field in the distance. At first I thought they were wild poppies, but as Suzy rightly pointed out, they may have been cultivated flowers. A few people passed us here, and looked utterly amazed. Perhaps we were a unexpected sight on the landscape as we had spread out a ground sheet to take off our boots and dry our feet. Next time I’ll buy a green groundsheet rather than a blue one, it might blend in better!
One of the highlights of this walk was the delightful riverside meadows between Naunton and Bourton-on-the-Water. It was so idyllic I could easily imagine fairies playing in the stream. We longed to stop and paddle here, and soothe our aching feet, but we knew we had to press on.
Although Bourton-on-the-Water is a busy tourist town, it has a special place in my heart. As a kid I used to go there on day trips from Cheltenham with my grandmother. The highlight was always visiting a tearoom. I was crazy about anything covered with a layer of white icing. I remember playing on the pretty old stone clapper bridge over the river, it was my idea of a day out in heaven. I have fond memories of those times.
However, on this walk I didn’t really enjoy Bourton very much at all. You have to cross a busy main road (A429) to re-enter the town, and there is a lot of walking along tarmacked pavements. There are traffic lights to cross the main road when you are heading for Lower Slaughter, but that section of the walk isn’t particularly pretty.
In future, after Aston Farm, we will try taking the shorter route along the Macmillan Way back to Lower Slaughter to avoid the main roads. This would cut out Bourton-on-the-Water, but it is nicer to spend half a day there enjoying the river and having lunch or afternoon tea in one of the cafes.
Our Rating: 4/5