Windrush Way and Wardens' Way
Linking the Cotswold Way at Winchcombe with the Oxfordshire Way at Bourton-on-the-Water the Windrush Way goes over the hills with only the remains of ‘lost’ medieval villages en route to the River Windrush in Bourton, whereas its sister route, the Wardens’ Way, winds through the villages. The waymarked Wardens’ Way and Windrush Way (both 14 miles and shown on OS mapping) therefore provide alternative high and low level routes respectively from Winchcombe to Bourton-on-the-Water.
The Wardens’ Way and Windrush Way were designed back in the 1980's by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens. These two 14 mile waymarked trails connecting the Cotswold Way in Winchcombe and the Oxfordshire Way at Bourton-on-the-Water form a useful link in the network of long distance paths.
The Windrush Way starts from Abbey Terrace in Winchcombe and heads south, passing Sudeley Castle and crossing attractive undulating countryside until climbing to meet the Salt Way near Roel Gate. The route continues on a high level to the medieval village of Hawling where it heads east over Windrush Hill. The route then descends past Hawling lodge into a narrow valley, turns south through Gazeley Wood and then climbs again to Westfield House. Here the route turns east again descending towards Aylworth where there is another medieval village site. The route now follows the valley of the River Windrush into Bourton-on-the-Water where it finishes at the war memorial.
As the Windrush Way avoids villages there is no accommodation on the route if you wish to split the walk into two days. However, just past Hawling Lodge the Way leaves a lane at SP083234. If you continue along the lane instead it is only a 2km diversion to Guiting Power where there is accommodation.
The Wardens’ Way also leaves Winchcombe past Sudeley Castle, but soon climbs up to Sudeley Lodge, Parks Farm and Deadmanbury Gate. It then follows the boundary of the extensive Guiting Wood before joining the Winchcombe Way entering and climbing through the wood. On exit from Guiting Wood the route joins the North Cotswold Diamond Way through Guiting Power and on to Naunton. From here the route climbs and then descends into the delightful hamlet of Upper Slaughter, then follows the River Eye through Lower Slaughter and on to Bourton-on-the-Water. If you wish to split the route into two days accommodation can be found at Guiting Power or Naunton.
A wonderful circular route can be created by walking the Windrush Way from Winchcombe to Bourton-on-the-Water and returning to Winchcombe on the Wardens’ Way, or vice-versa. To do this in two days is quite strenuous with 14 mile walks each day, so taking four days and allowing an overnight stop each way would provide a more relaxing pace.
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