Wilton windmill

Great Bedwyn and Wilton windmill walk, Wiltshire

This AA circular walk from Great Bedwyn is full of variety and at just over 5 miles is perfect for families. Encompassing a canalside walk, the option to visit two industrial heritage attractions and finishing with a woodland trail there’s plenty to keep kids occupied.

Great Bedwyn Post Office and shop
Great Bedwyn Post Office and shop

Our walk started from the village of Great Bedwyn. We passed the village Post Office, intriguingly adorned with stone plaques and monuments. They’re a legacy of Lloyd’s stonemasons who once operated in the village. My son couldn’t resist pressing the ‘Operate’ button on a pineapple shaped fountain; fortunately for him there was no water in it.

Footpath past St Mary's church, Great Bedwyn
Footpath past St Mary’s church, Great Bedwyn

Walking past the church we found even more stonework as the path was made of headstones! We crossed over the railway track (used by high speed trains so cross carefully) to reach the canal.

Kennet and Avon canal, Great Bedwyn
Kennet and Avon canal, Great Bedwyn

Kennet and Avon canal

Our route took us alongside the canal for 1.5 miles. There weren’t many boats around but we did stop to watch one going through the locks. I often fancy hiring a canal boat for the weekend but I think I’d be a little nervous about crashing it.

Butterbur - not a rare orchid!
Butterbur – not a rare orchid!

The flower above lined the ditch beside the canal path. I’d never seen one before so hoped it was something rare. However my mum immediately identified it as butterbur, not rare at all. The plant has many herbal medicine uses and its leaves were once used to wrap butter, hence the name.

Kennet and Avon canal, Great Bedwyn
Kennet and Avon canal, Great Bedwyn

The Crofton pumping station marked the turning off point of our canal walk. Crofton Beam Engines were built around 200 years ago to help supply water to the upper stretches of the Avon and Kennet canal. The engines still work and are generally open for steaming weekends once a month.

Crofton Pumping station
Crofton Pumping station

From Crofton we walked into the village of Wilton. Wilton has the most pristine duck pond I’ve ever seen. Surrounded by picture postcard thatched cottages, one of the gardens had a small rowing boat temptingly moored next to it. My daughter has decided she’s going to live in the village when she’s older; I daren’t tell her how much it’s likely to cost!

Wilton Windmill
Wilton Windmill

Wilton windmill

It’s a relatively short, but uphill, walk to the nearby Wilton windmill. Wilton windmill was built in 1821 and was in use for 100 years before falling into disuse. The mill was subsequently restored and is once again used for making flour. We could only look from the outside as we hadn’t managed to co-ordinate our visit with its opening hours.

'Stick' fighting, Bedwyn Brail
‘Stick’ fighting, Bedwyn Brail

The last part of the trail took us back through the woods. Although we were never in serious danger of getting lost there were a few points where I wondered whether we were going the right way. Quite a few areas had been felled recently creating new clearings, which meant the walk instructions were harder to follow.

We knew we were on the right path when the village of Great Bedwyn came into view. A final downhill stretch, a short walk along the canal and we were back at the car having enjoyed a great afternoon walk.

If you enjoyed this you might also like to read about our walk up and down the Caen locks or our Cold War walk on Greenham Common. Alternatively if you fancy more of a challenge how about cycling along the Kennet and Avon Canal or an overnight backpack along the Lambourn Valley Way.

More info

  • Check the Crofton Beam Engines website for details of opening hours and dates. Adults cost £4.50 for static open days or £8 when the engines are in steam; children are free.
  • Wilton windmill is open 3-5pm on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays between Easter and the end of September. Adult tickets are £4 each, children are free. Even if the windmill itself is closed you can still walk around the site, view from the outside and use the picnic benches.
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28 thoughts on “Great Bedwyn and Wilton windmill walk, Wiltshire”

    1. It’s hard to read in the photos but one of them has a ditty starting “Here lies John Higgs, A famous man for killing pigs”.

  1. Hi Christine, the walks you share on your blog always look enjoyable. I could quite happily spend a morning pottering round exploring on a walk.

    The Great Bedwyn and Wilton windmill walk looked interesting, there can’t be many place with working locks now (is there?). It is a shame you never got to see inside the Windmill. Maybe next time.

    1. Thanks Debbie. There’s a place not far from this windmill (Caen Hill locks) on the same canal which I wrote about back when I first started my blog. It consists of 29 locks and is quite an engineering feat, a big attraction for canal boaters too.

  2. Amazing how much you can pass on one walk if you choose the right places to go. I love the windmill against the blue sky, shame he was shut when you passed I bet you get an amazing view from up there and it would be lovely to see all the old workings inside. Thank you for sharing the whole route on Country Kids.

    1. Thanks Fiona. We were a bit impatient really as we only arrived about 40 minutes before it opened. I had planned to stay but it was really windy and rather cold despite the sun and blue sky so we just carried on with the walk.

    1. Thanks Ting. I live very close to the filming locations for Midsomer Murders but I’ve never actually watched it!

  3. I love getting out and about for walks and love your pictures and post, circular walks are the best aren’t they as you don’t backtrack x

  4. Looks like a lovely walk. I really need to start working N up to proper walks, rather than just when we go to places. He’d moan so much at the moment if it was just a walk, however much there was to look at. #countrykids

    1. We found that too when the kids were younger. Now they walk faster than us and we have to keep up with them. It will only get worse…..

  5. That does look like an excellent walk. Myself, I can tramp along across endless fields as far as you like, but the variety here must be better for the kids.

    I don’t think canal boats are too scary. They go very slowly, so even if you do park it in the bank, you won’t damage it. My main area of worry there is that my kids would not take kindly to drifting slowly along watching the scenery go by! Still, I could always make them run along beside.

    1. Yes I think I might possibly get frustrated with the speed too. We were going faster than the canal boat, particularly through the locks, but I guess that’s all part of the attraction.

    1. I think it would be fun to live in a windmill too, although now I’m wondering whether you’d have to buy special ‘circular’ furniture.

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