Atmospheric glimpses into England's past, quaint country pubs, leafy lanes, grassy meadows alive with birdsong and the sound of leather on willow all conjure up the essence of a truly English summer. They are all to be found on this short walk beside the River Windrush from the picturesque village of Minster Lovell, on the eastern edge of the Cotswolds.
The route follows marked footpaths across open meadows, along quiet country lanes and through sections of woodland. The walk includes a visit to the ruin of Minster Lovell Hall, the scene of many secrets and legends, with its grand entrance pointing to a distinguished past.
The trail starts at Minster Lovell High Street. Walk down the High Street past the thatched cottages. Take the left lane towards Crawley and after passing the Manor House join the footpath on the right. Cut diagonally across the first field and then follow the path beside the fence into Crawley village.
At the road junction in the village turn right to cross Crawley Bridge. Just before reaching Crawley Mill, take the bridleway on the left. Turn right to cross Dry Lane, continue over the meadow and through the small copse. Leave the copse through the small gate, turn left and follow the path to the disused pump house. Follow the path into the woodland until the ditch crossing. Bear right and continue beside the river to the bridge over the sluice. Bear left through the field to reach the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall.
After exploring the ruins, walk through the churchyard to the left of the church. From the stone stile, cross the fields and continue through the recreation ground to the road. Turn right over the lovely three arched bridge and return to the High Street.
Minster Lovell Hall
The ruins of Minster Lovell Hall are located in a beautiful rural setting beside the River Windrush. There has been a manor house at Minster Lovell since at least the 12th century but the ruins seen today are those of a large house built by William, Baron of Lovell and Holand, in the 1430s after his return from the French wars. The hall was abandoned in the 1730s and shortly later most of the buildings were dismantled for building stone. Entrance to the Hall is free. There is also a medieval dovecote in the next field, open to the public but exterior viewing only. Beside the Hall is the 15th century church of St. Kenelm.
The village comprises of Old Minster, Little Minster and New Minster. Old Minster, with its narrow streets, thatched houses and pretty cottages is the very essence of a picture postcard Cotswold village.
The River Windrush flows through some of the most beautiful countryside in England, from the Cotswold Hills in Gloucestershire through Bourton-on-the-Water, Windrush, Burford and Witney to meet the Thames at Newbridge. The clear river waters have been used in woollen blanket making since the mid 17th century. Evidence of the woollen mills can be found along the banks of the river. Crawley Mill, which is passed on the walk, was originally powered by the river although it was later converted to steam power. Even today blanket making continues in Witney.
How to Get There
The trail starts in Minster Lovell High Street. The village is 15 miles west of Oxford, off the A40. Parking is available in the Village Hall car park. There is a regular bus service from Oxford City Centre to Minster Lovell via Eynsham and Witney.