Doorstep Discoveries - Shakespear's Avon Way
Updated: May 28
I hadn't ventured north along the river since last year, a long winter of floods bringing the sea to our inland island from October, until just before lockdown began.
Shakespeare's Avon Way begins a short walk off the high street in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. Leaving the town and heading north along the A38 just over the other side of the bridge, and meeting the Severn Way across the road. Where Old Avon Lock intercepts the Avon to carry craft south to Gloucester and beyond, or north for Upton and Worcester.
With the new birth of spring, this riverside ramble is a delight for nature lovers, slow boat and waterway wanderers, as well as those looking for a flatter trail to run with open countryside views, following the river Avon.
While much of this route follows a good width of footpath through fields along the river, entering the trail off Beaufort Bridge is challenging for those needing flat access. A handful of narrow steps lead down to a gate where the path then follows the side of the weir and onto Tewkesbury Marina, enclosed by scrub on one side and the river on the other, passing under a derelict railway bridge before walking out into open fields.
There are a few styles to negotiate on this section of the path, I think I counted six each way, and a couple include a small footbridge to cross a stream.
If it weren't for the styles and alternative access needed, this would be a lovely wheelchair-friendly route, but as it is you'd need to be up for a challenge, even with off-road wheels. I took this route with my trusty adaptable adventure crutches, compete with backpack of all the essentials - map, waterproof jacket, lightweight stove, mug, tea bags and a packet of Jaffa cakes.
I began my trail late afternoon, it was such a pleasure to see fields of sheep and spring lambs along the path and munching on reeds by the river's edge. I hadn't realised how much I'd missed sheep.
Also a reminder to anyone with dogs walking the trail to keep them on a lead through these fields, as with any paths shared with our wooly friends, particularly at lambing time.
The views up the river head out into green fields, filled with livestock, bankside geese, and out onto views of Bredon Hill into Worcestershire. It doesn't take long to leave the town behind and feel like it's just you, the meandering river, open fields and cotton wool clouds.
Fishermen often sit silently on the banks, though today I had the river almost to myself. I stopped often, dragonflies hovering over the water's edge and swans gliding elegantly on the glass-like surface, while a formation of airborne geese come skidding down nearside to a splash landing.
Further up the way, a lone paddleboarder gently eased his board downstream, followed by two swimmers, clearly out on a training session. I wondered how far they'd be going, and later watched them rhymically and in unison, cut back through the still water from where they'd came.
My halfway point was at Twyning. finishing at a lovely riverside pub, when it is open, The Fleet. From here, Shakespear's Avon Way continues away from the river for a short section before re-uniting at Strensham and continuing to Evesham and eventually merging with the Avon Way at Stratford-upon-Avon.
My end point, or midpoint was at 4km, with the option to return following footpaths along the lane west into Twyning and then south, away from the riverside and back into town.
Or back the way I came, a bit longer to stay with the fleeced, feathered, finned and flight of the river-life, which is the route I chose. Making time to brew up a cup of tea by the water and watch lambs skipping into the sunset as I happily followed behind.
This is a lovely little out and back flat route for all the family, less than a km longer taking the return route away from the river, and with of course the option to continue further on the trail. I look forward to exploring further with Dream Big Explore.
While current restrictions see cafes and pub stops currently closed, finishing your route back in Tewkesbury town, head down to the riverside off the main high street for a well deserved locally made ice cream from the riverside cart.
Ordnance Survey Explorer map 190