The Cotswold Water Park extends across three counties, of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and a tiny bit of West Oxfordshire, with a great network of public footpaths, cycle routes and bridlepaths.
The County Rights of Way teams do a fabulous job at keeping all this in order, and the CWPT rangers play their part in maintaining public access on our land, nature reserves, car parks and country parks.
There are more than 100km of public rights of way in the whole of the Cotswold Water Park – and if you would like to explore more, then download a Leisure Map or pick up a free copy from the Gateway Information Centre near South Cerney, or have a look at the 1:25000 Landranger OS map, ref 169.
There is a huge range of routes in this area, offering views across lakes, along canal tow paths, disused railway tracks and through quaint Cotswold villages and towns. You can spend an hour just taking a short stroll around a lake, or head off for a 12 mile route, taking in a few country pubs and villages on the way.
More information about Walking in the CWP
In Spring and Summer: Expect to meet clouds of dragonflies and damselflies; watch great crested grebe as they act out their elegant courtship dance ; see hobbies displaying their aerobatics overhead, and huge flocks of lapwing ; later on encounter bats feeding across the water and in the hedgerows as the light begins to fade. You will also be sure to hear the nightingale song, if you know where to go! Take a look at the Bird blog for more information.
In Autumn and Winter: A quiet time of year for visitors, but not so for water birds – come and enjoy the winter spectacle of thousands of winter ducks as they arrive to winter here from the Arctic – Gadwall, Shoveler, Goldeneye, Tufted duck, Teal and the bright white Smew are amongst our favourites.
This flat landscape is great for cyclists of all ages and abilities, and with some great off road opportunities it makes an ideal place to bring the family for a day’s cycling. The CWP Trust runs various car parks around the area (please note some do have height restrictions and charges for non members) but why not start your journey at the Gateway Centre, pick up a map and set off from there on your ride.
If you don’t have bikes, then you can always hire them from Go By Cycle situated near the village of Somerford Keynes which offers bike hire for all ages, trailer bikes, along with servicing, support and sales.
Please note that in the winter some of the routes can be flooded – best to check the website before you set off.
There are some lovely circular routes for horseriders around the Water Park, although in winter months some of these can be severely flooded.
Waterhay Car Park on the outskirts of Ashton Keynes is a good starting point for the Thames Path bridlepaths which goes through to Cricklade and beyond.
Badger excavations affecting part of the Old Railway Line between Cricklade and the River Thames
This section of the Old Railway Line is managed by the Cotswold Water Park Trust on a long lease from Wiltshire Council. Part of this section has recently experienced an increase in badger excavations, resulting in surface holes and areas of potential surface collapse. The Trust is concerned about the subsequent implications for public safety and has recently erected several warning signs. The Trust is also monitoring the situation regularly. Since the Badger is a protected species (under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992) the Trust cannot simply fill in the holes or undertake any other repairs without formal permission from Natural England. As such, the Cotswold Water Park Trust is implementing an action plan (which may be subject to change), under which it seeks to find a remedy to the situation:
1. To seek professional ecological advice regarding:
a) the status of the current badger excavations
b) what measures the Trust are legally entitled to employ to mitigate against the damage in the
immediate and longer term.
2. Following the advice given above, to then seek further professional advice regarding possible
engineering solutions to repair the damage.
3. Once a suitable solution has been agreed, to take steps to implement such a plan with the minimum
disruption possible to all users of the site, including its legally protected species.
The Trust wishes to keep the site open whilst professional advice is sought on the ecological, engineering and public safety matters arising from this issue. Should advice recommend the need for a temporarily closure then the Trust will have to action that advice and will give as much notice of this as possible. As it arises, any further information will be made available on the Trust’s website, along with that of Cricklade Town Council. Please note: The stretch of the disused railway line between Cricklade and the River Thames (falling wholly in Wiltshire) is not a designated Public Right of Way nor Bridleway and as such is not the responsibility of Wiltshire Council. However, as leaseholders currently allowing permissive use by the public, the Cotswold Water Park Trust will continue to engage with the local authority with regard to its action plan above.
Seen something that needs sorting?
If you are out and about across the area and see an issue such as a tree down across a path, a broken fence, signs of flytipping, etc then please do get in touch with us to let us know, so we can either go and sort it, or tell someone else who can!
Call the CWPT office 01793 752413