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Burford and the River Windrush

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Burford and the River Windrush
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 06 Apr 2015 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Burford and the River Windrush Cotswold Walking Guidestar1 Burford and the River Windrush Cotswold Walking Guidestar1 Burford and the River Windrush Cotswold Walking Guidestar1 Burford and the River Windrush Cotswold Walking Guidestar1 Burford and the River Windrush Cotswold Walking Guide
Oxfordshire, Cotswolds
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Burford and the River Windrush
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot Burford and the River Windrush Cotswold Walking Guide boot Burford and the River Windrush Cotswold Walking Guide
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A circular walk of just over 6 miles from the classic Cotswold town of Burford in Oxfordshire. Take in the beautiful mellow stone buildings of the medieval town, savour the peace of rural farmland and then enjoy a lovely stretch along the banks of the River Windrush for the return leg.

The walk is relatively flat, with just a few gentle gradients. The paths are mostly unmade and can get quite muddy after periods of rain and in the winter months. You will need to negotiate 5 stiles, some steps, several kissing gates and one cattle grid. The stiles all have adjacent dog gates or open fencing surrounds that should be suitable for most dogs. There is also some open fencing to the side of the cattle grid that dogs can slip through (although humans will have to pick their way over the grid!). There was no livestock in the fields when we crossed, but the meadows alongside the river are sometimes used for grazing so take care with dogs. There are public toilets in the car park at the start of the walk. Allow 2.5 to 3 hours.

Burford is located in the Cotswold Hills within Oxfordshire, about 18 miles west of Oxford and just two miles from the Gloucestershire border. The town is accessed from the A40 road, at its junction with the A361. The walk starts and finishes at the town’s free car park on Church Lane. Follow the A361 High Street north through the town and then turn right into Church Lane (signed with a blue P for the car park). The car park can get full at peak times so arrive early to avoid disappointment. Approximate post code OX18 4RZ.

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Walk Sections

Start to Footpath Steps
Start to Footpath Steps

Start point: 51.8086 lat, -1.633 long
End point: 51.8168 lat, -1.6235 long

Leave the car park via the vehicle entrance, crossing over the river bridge. At the T-junction keep right into Church Lane (signed for the Parish Church) – take care along this stretch as the pavement comes and goes. Follow the road as it swings right and directly ahead you will see St John the Baptist Church, which you can visit should you wish.

The church building was begun in the 1170s and is best known for its 1569 stone carved monument to Henry VIII's barber-surgeon, Edmund Harman. The carving depicts figures in feathered headdresses, thought to be South American people hailing from the banks of the Amazon. But why are they in Burford, on this particular monument? Apparently the family of Harman’s wife included merchant adventurers and perhaps it was her connection with people who had sailed across the Atlantic that inspired these unlikely carvings, creating in the process one of the many pleasant surprises in this beautiful church on the edge of the Cotswolds.

Continue along Church Lane as it now swings left to reach a T-junction with the High Street. Turn right along this and follow the road over the stone bridge across the River Windrush. Keep ahead along the pavement and turn right at the mini-roundabout (signed to Banbury).

The pavement leads you into the village of Fulbrook. Follow the pavement alongside the main A361 through the entire length of the village, passing the war memorial and then ignoring the side road to Swinbrook. Where the right-hand pavement ends, continue ahead along the grass verge. You will pass a side lane on the left, Upper End, and about 70 yards later fork right down the gravel steps to join a signed footpath.

Footpath Steps to Woodland Track
Footpath Steps to Woodland Track

Start point: 51.8168 lat, -1.6235 long
End point: 51.8226 lat, -1.6047 long

Follow the footpath through the kissing gate and up some gravel steps to reach the corner of a large crop field. Turn right along the field edge path. Just before the path begins to climb you will reach a waymarker post. Bear left here and follow the path across the centre of the field, walking between the crop slopes.

At the far side, keep ahead though the gap in the hedge and cross this second field diagonally right to reach a gap in the next hedgerow. Pass through this to reach the edge of a large crop field. Continue in the same direction across this third field, heading for the centre of a belt of woodland at the far side. At the edge of the woodland you will come to a T-junction with a track.

Woodland Track to Dean Bottom
Woodland Track to Dean Bottom

Start point: 51.8226 lat, -1.6047 long
End point: 51.8132 lat, -1.6068 long

Turn right along the track and follow it through the woodland. As you emerge from the trees, keep directly ahead on the track between fields with a stone wall running on the left. The track leads you steadily downhill, passing a row of white cottages on the right and then on past the buildings of Paynes Farm.

Just beyond the farm buildings, where the main lane swings left, turn right onto the stone track signed to Fulbrook and Burford. Follow the track uphill to reach a gate ahead. Pass through the green metal gate and keep ahead on the unfenced track heading towards the trees.

The track leads you past the belt of woodland on the right and then heads down a slope to reach another green metal gate. Pass through this and follow the track heading uphill between hedgerows. You will emerge to a T-junction with a quiet lane. Turn right along this and follow it down into the dip, where you will find a stile and footpath sign on the left.

Dean Bottom to Mill Race House
Dean Bottom to Mill Race House

Start point: 51.8132 lat, -1.6068 long
End point: 51.8039 lat, -1.6056 long

Turn left over the stile and walk ahead along the grassy ride known as Dean Bottom. Follow the valley bottom winding ahead and passing through an open gateway along the way. You will come to a T-junction with a stone track. Turn right along this (passing alongside a cattle grid) and you will see the tiny St Oswald’s Church on the right. You can visit this should you wish.

The tiny medieval church was built on the site of a Roman villa and includes a mosaic floor near the altar, which was discovered in 1904. Nearby is the abandoned site of a medieval village and at one time the slopes of the valley would have been crowded with houses.

Keep ahead along the stone track which leads you past a lake on the left. Cross the cattle grid ahead (there is some open fencing to the left of the grid if you have a dog with you) to reach a T-junction with a lane. Turn left and follow the lane over the river bridge and on to reach a T-junction alongside Mill Race House on the left. If you look to the right here, you will see the narrow water channel of the mill race itself, which would once have driven this former mill.

Mill Race House to Burford Boundary
Mill Race House to Burford Boundary

Start point: 51.8039 lat, -1.6056 long
End point: 51.8059 lat, -1.63 long

Turn right along the road and follow the road edge, taking care of any traffic. After about 100 yards, fork right to join the signed footpath. Follow this unmade path which soon runs directly alongside the River Windrush on the right.

The River Windrush winds through the rushes for most of its length, hence the name. It rises in Gloucestershire in the Cotswold Hills and flows for 35 miles to the point where it meets the River Thames at Newbridge. The river has healthy populations of fish including trout, grayling and perch.

Follow this riverside path for some distance across the water meadows, crossing three stiles and a sleeper bridge along the way. A fourth stile takes you out to a T-junction with the road. Turn right along the grass verge path which eventually leads you into the outskirts of Burford town.

Burford Boundary to End
Burford Boundary to End

Start point: 51.8059 lat, -1.63 long
End point: 51.8088 lat, -1.6331 long

Follow the pavement ahead, passing a range of classic Cotswold stone cottages. Burford has a long history with some interesting connections. The town has changed little over the years, still retaining its lime tree lined High Street, and is often referred to as the gateway to the Cotswolds. The town’s name is derived from the Old English words, burh (meaning fort or hill town) and ford (meaning river crossing).

Many chroniclers record a battle between the Saxons and Mercians at Burford in 752. The Mercian standard-bearer, who carried the flag with a golden dragon on it, was killed by the lance of his Saxon rival. The origin of the golden dragon is attributed to Uther Pendragon, father of Arthur of Camelot. Uther was said to always carry a golden dragon into battle with him. The people of Burford celebrated the anniversary of the battle up to the 1600s, making a giant dragon and parading it in the streets.

Further along, you will pass the Baptist Church and then the Great House (dating from the 1690s) both on the left. Immediately after the Great House, there is a lane on the right which leads back to the car park should you wish to take a shortcut (avoiding the centre of the town). Otherwise, keep ahead to reach the T-junction with the High Street.

If you glance across to the left here you will see a white-washed building sitting on columns with a clock suspended from the front. This is the 15th century Tolsey, once the centre of the local wool trade, and now a museum.

Turn right along the High Street and follow this through the centre of the town, crammed with interesting shops and retailers. On the right you will pass Burford Methodist Church, a former baroque town house. Just after the Tourist Information Centre, turn right into Church Lane and follow this back to the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2015 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "Burford and the River Windrush"

A friend and I thoroughly enjoyed this pretty walk today using iFootpath app for the first time. Easy to follow, accurate instructions. Great views, points of interest and wildlife. Very muddy in places, near the river so make sure you're wearing suitable footwear. Great selection of eateries in Burford - we went for the Royal Oak with roaring fire and good lunchtime choices.

By cyclelyn on 2016-11-16 18:08:26

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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