90 – South Cerney loop in Cotswold Water Park 5.7 miles – 23rd November

In short: a walk from the AA – ‘Around the Lakes of the Cotswold Water Park’ – lovely paths and views but exceptionally muddy so sturdy walking boots required. Plenty of free parking at various points on this walk; public toilets and super pitstop (plus bonus Christmas shopping!) at the Cotswold Outdoor centre at the halfway point. 2 hrs 10 mins walking + 1 hr pitstop (including Christmas shopping!).

As last year we are on our (now annual!) Christmas shopping trip to Cirencester and following our festive exertions we are taking a well-deserved walk in the Cotswold Water Park. It rained heavily overnight so the ground is really waterlogged – just about manageable though with great care in places.

We don’t actually start at the starting point of the walk but rather from our lovely overnight lodging on one of the lakes near South Cerney. We take the path out of the complex beside the sailing club and alongside the lake to point 6 on the published walk.

On reaching the road into South Cerney, Station Road, we take the second footpath on our right – just after a turning called ‘The Lennards’. This passes behind some houses to pass a field and come out at a path between two streams where we turn left.

At the end of this lane we reach the road, Silver Street, where we turn right to pass through the village heading north. On leaving the village and just before a turning marked to Driffield and Cricklade we take a path right over a stile.

We stay on this clear path – apparently an old railway line – for half a mile till we reach a bridge over us – here we turn right to climb some steps up onto a narrow lane above.

We turn left here – heading away from the village – and continue until we reach a junction of paths where we turn right, following a signpost to Cerney Wick. We are now walking beside the very overgrown and obviously disused Thames and Severn Canal.

We walk to the left of a property with a large lake – possibly now a hotel or wedding venue? Very prettily situated anyway.

As the track heads towards this property we continue straight ahead over a stile and onto the old towpath. This stretch is fairly muddy and consequently slippery in places.

We pass a disused but dredged and cleared lock just before arriving at the main road.

Here we pass under the road and emerge to turn right onto a path into the car park of the Cotswold Outdoor centre – where we enjoy a super pitstop of coffee and scones or pastries, use of their smart, clean facilities and a fabulous Christmas shopping stop off in the big Cotswold Outdoor shop. (Returning to pick up our purchases later when in the car! No way we’re carrying these bags with us on our onward journey…)

Leaving the Outdoor centre we head back to rejoin the old towpath – and probably the muddiest section of the walk yet!

The weather is starting to close in a little but it’s hard to walk any faster without risking landing on our backsides! We pass fields with livestock…

and try not to get distracted from the ground underfoot!

After a while we come to a beautiful old roundhouse building on the far side of the canal together with another old abandoned lock.

And shortly after we reach a lane at Cerney Wick where we turn right.

We continue along this path till we come to the Crown pub. Here we cross the road and a stile to walk alongside a field. Once again this section is very muddy. We cross another lane, stile and field and find ourselves walking to the left of another lake, following the path as it curves right and then left before forming a T-junction with another path.

Here we turn right to walk along a straight path beside a gravel pit to reach the main road which we cross to go straight ahead and return to our starting point just before the sailing club.

This is a delightful walk – slightly more demanding than it should be normally due to the ground conditions underfoot – but with lovely true countryside views and a super stop off halfway along.

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