An amazing walk from Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire

This 4 mile circular walk from Bourton-on-the-Water takes in two Cotswold villages, a nature reserve and, not one, but two mazes. Hence the cheesy pun in the title!

Tourist literature describes Bourton-on-the-Water as ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’. Whilst the River Windrush flows through the village it doesn’t bear much resemblance to Venice except for the crowds of visitors. Once you’ve put the analogy aside it’s an enjoyable place to spend a few hours and, as we found, it’s easy to escape the tourist hordes.

Greystones Farm nature Reserve
Greystones Farm nature Reserve

As is almost always the case, a 10 minute walk from the village centre took us away from the day trippers. We left Bourton-on-the-Water via Greystones Farm Nature Reserve, which is managed by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

We followed the route through the farmyard past an unusual looking building marked with the words ‘Lely Astronaut’. I thought it might be an observatory but we found a small viewing window and realised it was a robotic milking parlour. We watched one of the cows for a while, hoping to see it getting milked, but the cow had other ideas so we left it in peace.

Unusual gate at Greystones Farm nature Reserve
Unusual gate at Greystones Farm nature Reserve

Leaving the farmyard we encountered this gate which had a convenient person shaped hole in it. It wasn’t so convenient for the people behind us who had multiple dogs, one of whom they were pulling along in a cycle trailer!

Further on we found some badger setts. The badgers were tucked up underground as it was the middle of the day but it would be great to stake out one of the setts.

Checking for badgers
Checking for badgers

We walked on through meadows before crossing the River Eye and River Dickler. Otters and water voles evidently frequent these rivers but we searched in vain for footprints on the banks. Even though we didn’t see signs of these elusive animals it was great to explore the incredibly clear rivers.

River Dickler, Greystones Farm
River Dickler, Greystones Farm

We managed to take a wrong turning after crossing the bridge. As we walked on the instructions started to differ from the route and when we reached a road it became obvious we’d gone the wrong way. Whoops. Fortunately we’d bought an OS map so we could work out where we were supposed to be, just a pity I hadn’t checked it sooner. On the positive side we did hear our first cuckoo of the year.

We reached the village of Wyck Rissington via our unplanned road detour. This unspoilt Cotswold village is a complete contrast to the tourist honeypot of Bourton-on-the-Water. We only saw one other person in the village visiting its picturesque duck pond and Cotswold stone buildings.

Wyck Rissington
Wyck Rissington

Wyck Rissington does have a couple of claims to fame. The composer Holst worked as an organist in the church in 1892. Holst enthusiasts can follow the 35 mile Gustav Holst walk which passes through places associated with the composer and ends at the church.

Of more interest to us was a story I’d heard about a maze in the rectory garden. It turned out we were 30 years too late as it was dismantled when the rectory was sold. However there is a mosaic inside the church which is a copy of the original maze. Can you complete it?

Mosaic maze in Wyck Rissington church
Mosaic maze in Wyck Rissington church

Our walk back to Bourton-on-the-Water was almost scuppered when we encountered a dog walker who told us about a herd of cows blocking our access ahead. Neither my daughter or I are fans but after checking the map we realised we’d either have to retrace our earlier route or brave the cows. With some nervousness we settled on the latter. We had several fields to cross; each one was carefully checked but there were no cows to be seen. Either they’d gone in for milking or the dog walker had imagined them. I was relieved!

The final stretch of walk took us past fishing lakes back into the village and onto our second maze of the day.

Dragonfly Maze, Bourton-on-the-Water

One of the reasons Bourton-on-the Water is so popular is because of its many attractions. These include Birdland, a model village, a perfumery, motor museum and a maze. We had time to spare after our walk so decided to explore the Dragonfly Maze.

Dragonfly Maze, Bourton-on-the-Water
Dragonfly Maze, Bourton-on-the-Water

Dragonfly Maze is a yew maze with a twist. In addition to finding the centre of the maze we needed to solve clues along the way in order to fully enjoy the attraction at the centre (I’m trying not to give anything away here).

The clues are picture based, similar to the top left hand photograph above. We didn’t manage to find one of them but were still able to solve the puzzle. The maze took us about 30 minutes to finish; it’s not particularly big but the added puzzle made it an entertaining way to finish our walk.

Smiths of Bourton tearoom

In my view, a walk can only be perfect if there’s a good tearoom somewhere en route. We were spoilt for choice in the village but settled on Smiths of Bourton tearoom.

We initially visited for lunch before our walk; I had a Ploughmans, the children sandwiches and my partner a fish finger sandwich. They were all delicious although my partner hadn’t expected either tomato ketchup or mushy peas inside his sandwich. This was rather unfortunate as he doesn’t like them; fortunately both kids do so after some sandwich swapping everyone ended up with something they enjoyed.

Smiths of Bourton
Smiths of Bourton

We returned after our walk for cake and coffee. My daughter was embarrassed to see one of her school teachers sitting on the table next to us, particularly as we were an hour’s drive from home. I, on the other hand, was happy to see that the tearoom offered a selection of 3 smaller size cakes for £3.95. Perfect for me as I can never make up my mind. I chose fruit, carrot and chocolate cakes to share with the kids. You’ll have to take my word that they were all delicious, a perfect end to our afternoon walk.

If you’ve enjoyed this you might also want to read about our walk from Winchcombe to Belas Knap or our climb up to Broadway Tower.

More info:

  • We followed the Bourton-on-the-Water and Wyck Rissington Jubilee walk. It’s 4 miles long and flat so easy to do with children. There are loads of cafés, pubs and other facilities available in Bourton.
  • The Dragonfly Maze is open year round, depending on the weather. A family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children under 12 costs £9.

28 thoughts on “An amazing walk from Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire”

  1. This is fab! I haven’t been to Bourton on the Water for years, but thought it would be a good place to take my son’s French exchange pen friend when he comes over as it’s quite typically English.

    1. It definitely attracts the tourists Sarah and you’re right about it being typically English, sounds like a good choice for a visit.

  2. That looks like a lovely place to go for a walk, the tea room looks so quaint! I’m looking forward to my kids being old enough to go out for long walks like this because I love walking!

    1. Thanks Lauren. It’s quite a good walk to do with children – flat with lots to see along the way.

  3. What a beautiful place to be. The maze looks really difficult! What a shame it had been taken down. That tea room looks beautiful and extremely traditional. I would love to visit this place 🙂 Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo x

    1. Thanks Vicky. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t there either. We were walking around the churchyard determined to find it.

  4. What a lovely walk and so many things to see along the way. The village of Wyck Rissington looks so pretty and I’m so glad you didn’t encounter the cows on your way home! 🙂 #CountryKids

    1. It was a pretty village although I think that term probably describes most of the Cotswold villages!

    1. I used to go to Bourton when I was a kid and have fond memories of the model village. I don’t think the maze has been there that long though as I cannot remember it from previous visits either.

  5. Your posts aways make me want to change my plans for the weekend and follow your route. This one looks just as tempting. I don’t think I would have taken a photo of the cakes either. Not after a good walk like that. #CountryKids

    1. Thanks Cheryl. I can take no credit for the route I’m afraid, good old Google finds them for me! Glad you enjoy the posts.

  6. What a lovely post that brought back memories for me, my Grandmother had a shop there when I was tiny and I cycled back there as a teen. It has changed from how I remember but still beautiful, I rather like the non touristy village you walked through too. I had to laugh at the cake comment, I’ve done the same many a time then thought as I scraped up the crumbs that I missed an instagram moment! Thank you for sharing your Cotswold walk on Country Kids.

    1. It never even crossed my mind to take a photo until I’d finished. Far too busy enjoying the cake.

  7. I haven’t been to Bourton for ages. Keep meaning to pay it a visit. my husband and I used to walk around that area regularly. It might be time we went back with the children. I do like the look of that maze.

    1. I think it’s a good place to visit with the family, loads of kid friendly attractions to see in the village.

  8. Hi Christine, I think it’s lovely that you have so many days out with the family and I hope that as they get older your children continue to enjoy them too. Although with the promise of cake at the end of a walk how could they resist?

    It is a shame you were thirty years too late for the maze at the rectory garden, but at least the Dragonfly maze sounded like fun.

    If I was faced with a herd of cows blocking the way, I’d probably have turned around!

    Thank you for sharing your day out!

    1. I’m a little nervous around cows but my daughter makes me doubly nervous, she’s terrified of them!

  9. We love Bourton. It’s about 25 mins from us so we go quite a bit. Although crowded on a sunny day, it’s lovely being down by the river. We last went to the car museum, which was great. Much bigger than I expected.

    We don’t really do walks yet, but nice to know there’s some flat walks around.

  10. Oh, Christine, you’ve brought back lovely memories for me. I love Bourton-on-water. We spent a very romantic weekend there once. In fact I love the Cotswolds in general and we’re staying for a week in August, so I will bookmark your walk and try to do it! Looks like a lovely day – the badger setts and maze look like they added to the excitement.

    1. I think I forgot how beautiful the Cotswolds are. We live relatively close but I always think of it as a place for more mature tourists!

  11. How beautifully unspoilt, that looks like such a lovely day out. I can’t wait until my youngest are a little older and we can enjoy a really good hike. Just gorgeous #countrykids

    1. Thanks Alexandra. I’m not sure my kids always enjoy the thought of a walk but generally, once parted with technology, they have a good time.

  12. What a lovely walk! Haven’t been to Bourton since the summer before Roo was born. Never really think of Holst as being an organist – love some of the random trivia poking about along a walk brings up sometimes. Definitely agree on the cake selection being best option – I am similarly indecisive!

    1. Thanks Kate. We were wandering along and talking about why they’d name a walk after Holst – it was good to find out once we got to the church at Wyck.

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