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Malmesbury River Trail

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Malmesbury River Trail
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 24 Apr 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Wiltshire, Costwolds
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Malmesbury River Trail
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 3 mile circular trail from the market town of Malmesbury in the southern Cotswolds in Wiltshire. The walk starts in the centre of the town before heading out to join the riverside path along the River Avon. The walk is a lovely mix with some peaceful sections of riverside walking along with opportunities to explore the history of the town.

The walk is relatively flat and follows mainly riverside and field paths which will be very muddy after wet weather. There are a number of gates/kissing gates plus one metal squeeze gap and four stiles. The squeeze gap step is quite low and the first three stiles have large gaps alongside/underneath suitable for dogs. The final stile has closed fencing surrounding it but there is a mid height stone wall alongside which most dogs should be able to cross. One of the fields is likely to be holding cattle. Approximate time 1.5 hours.

The walk starts from the Malmesbury Town Hall. Parking is in the adjacent Cross Hayes open-air car park in Malmesbury. The car park is free on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Monday to Saturday the car park is pay and display and maximum stay 2 hours. Approximate post code SN16 9BZ.

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Walk Sections

Town Hall to Daniel's Well
Town Hall to Daniel's Well

Start point: 51.5833 lat, -2.0969 long
End point: 51.5837 lat, -2.1013 long

Head up towards the Town Hall and Tourist Information Offices at the top of the car park square. Go to the left of the building, up the narrow lane called Market Lane. Turn left at the T-junction with Oxford Street and continue along past Market Cross on the right.

Market Cross, an elaborate carved octagonal structure, was built in 1490, possibly using stone salvaged from the recently-ruined part of the abbey nearby. It is nicknamed ‘The Birdcage’ due to its appearance and is recognised as one of the best preserved of its kind. It still serves its purpose today, sheltering market traders by day and acting as a meeting point at night.

Continue ahead and then as the road bends sharp right, and turn left under the large mirror (sponsored by the Rotary Club of South Cotswolds) into Kings Wall alley. Follow the alley as it bends left and go down the steps. At the bottom of the steps turn right onto Burnivale, a raised lane/footpath heading downhill.

At the bottom you will reach a T-junction with a tarmac lane – go straight ahead into a narrow footpath with tall Cotswold Stone walls each side. Cross over the small arched bridge and turn right over the raised walkway over the weir. Climb over the metal squeeze gap. Go ahead and then bear left to follow the stepping stone path towards the small stone footbridge known as Daniel’s Well.

Daniel's Well to Avon Mill
Daniel's Well to Avon Mill

Start point: 51.5837 lat, -2.1013 long
End point: 51.5807 lat, -2.0942 long

Daniel’s Well is named after Daniel of Winchester, the Bishop of Winchester from 704 to 755. Daniel was a man of remarkable austerity, and it was here in this stream that it is said that Daniel used to stand the whole night long to cool his passions.

Cross this small footbridge and then turn immediately left and follow the grass path through the field with the river to the left and the hedgerow close to your right. At a gap in the hedge, turn right then left to pass through a kissing gate. Continue ahead now with the hedge on your left.

As the hedgeline ends you will see the playing field across to the left on the opposite bank of the river. Go ahead over a small wooden footbridge and through a kissing gate and then soon afterwards across another pair of wooden footbridges.

Keep left following the path closest to the river and pass through another kissing gate. At the end of the next field cross over a stile, then pass through a wooden gate and turn left onto the pavement. After just a few paces you will come to a concrete footbridge across the River Avon on your left. You will see Avon Mill to your right.

Avon Mill to Weir
Avon Mill to Weir

Start point: 51.5807 lat, -2.0942 long
End point: 51.583 lat, -2.094 long

Avon Mill is the site of Malmesbury’s 19th century silk mills, set up in 1852 by silk manufacturers Thomas Bridget and Company of Derby. At its peak the mill employed more than 400 people. The mill changed hands a number of times, but silk production continued here until 1941. The main buildings have since been converted to private apartments.

Cross over the footbridge and then turn right through the edge of the park to pass out onto the road via the large black gates. Cross over the road with care, turn left and then take the next road on the right – St John’s Street.

At the end of St. John’s Street pass over the bridge and continue ahead with the bowling club on the left. On the right is a beautiful shallow section of river ideal for a paddle in hot weather. At the end of the bowling green, turn left down a narrow mud footpath. Follow this footpath for a short distance and you will come to a weir.

Weir to Conygre Mead Nature Reserve
Weir to Conygre Mead Nature Reserve

Start point: 51.583 lat, -2.094 long
End point: 51.5861 lat, -2.0939 long

Cross over the weir using the footbridge and go straight on over a stile into a field. Note this field is likely to be holding cattle so take care with dogs. Follow the right hand edge of the field and then follow the path as it bends right through a wide fence opening, past embankments of an old railway. Continue ahead with the river on the left.

Continue ahead to the end of this second field. Cross over another stile and pass over a narrow stone walkway and up four stone steps to reach the road. Turn right for just a few paces over the river bridge, cross over the road with care and follow the footpath ahead with the river now on your left. Pass through a large wide kissing gate to enter Conygre Mead Nature Reserve.

Conygre Mead Nature Reserve to Mill House
Conygre Mead Nature Reserve to Mill House

Start point: 51.5861 lat, -2.0939 long
End point: 51.5854 lat, -2.0987 long

This area of land alongside the Tetbury Avon is dedicated as a nature reserve and place of quiet recreation. The Mead is a rich area of varying habitats and is home to 170 plant species, 46 bird species and 18 butterfly species. In years gone by Monks of the abbey kept rabbits on the higher ground and constructed fish ponds close to the river. The word Conygre comes from coney or cony – an old word for rabbits.

Follow the main path through the nature reserve. As the path begins to climb, use the small stone viewing area on the left to look back across the river to the disused railway tunnel, which is 96 metres long. The railway line here opened in 1877, after five years of construction. The line carried passengers until 1951 and then carried goods only until the line was closed in 1962.

Continue along the main path with the river to your left. Across on the opposite bank you will have great views of Abbey House Gardens. Abbey House is a Grade 1 listed building. It was built around 1542, and sits on the 13th century foundations of the former Abbot’s House, connected to the abbey.

Leave the woodland trail at the end of the path via the kissing gate and then turn left down the slope. Keep left to cross over the footbridge alongside a tall stone wall. As you come to a flight of steps ahead, do not climb them, instead follow the path as it bends right. A few paces later, fork right down a mud footpath running behind the Mill House on your right.

Mill House to Town Hall
Mill House to Town Hall

Start point: 51.5854 lat, -2.0987 long
End point: 51.5836 lat, -2.0971 long

Follow this mud path as it sweeps behind the Mill House and then runs alongside the river on the right. Follow the path as it bends hard left up a narrow tarmac footpath with tall brick walls each side. The path emerges onto Gloucester Road. Turn left and follow the pavement up the hill.

Just over the brow of the hill, you will come to the war memorial. Cross over here and then turn right down Bristol Street. Take the second road forking off to the left, some distance along, Foxley Road.

Follow the road round the sharp left bend (take care as there is no pavement here) and then continue across the river bridge. Turn left into a stone vehicle track and then after just a few paces turn left again over a stile into a grass field. Follow the stone path straight ahead across the centre of the field. After just a little distance you will come to Daniel’s Well on the left.

Cross over and retrace your steps back to the car park. To do this, pass over the metal squeeze gap, along the walkway and left over the stone arch bridge. At the end of the alley, go ahead to climb the fenced footpath climbing up to the right. Turn left up the steps and follow this to emerge out onto Oxford Road. Turn right, pass Market Cross on your left, then take the second turning on the right, Market Lane, which leads back to the car park.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


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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