Walks in Oxfordshire: Bampton
A Walk to the River Thames and Back from the Downton Abbey Village

Walks in Oxfordshire don't come much more peaceful than our Bampton meander. This near 8-miler is a little lengthy, but it is flat and has plenty of interest. For starters, it sets off from the charming Cotswold town of Bampton, which is better known as the location for the Downton village in the historical British drama Downton Abbey. So, if you’re a Downton fan looking for walks in Oxfordshire, pick this one and spend a bit of time exploring Downton village before or after.

From Bampton, the walking route takes us along quiet tracks, across fields to a lock and weir on the River Thames. After two miles or so, we cross the river and return to Bampton on remote tracks and footpaths. We found this Oxfordshire walk very peaceful. We went during April and hardly saw another person!

If you're a Downton Abbey fan and would like to explore the village, you can find a shorter, 1-mile long walk which passes all the film locations, on this page.

Bampton doesn’t have an official car park, but there is parking around the Market Square. The post code to use for your SatNav is OX18 2JH.

Walks in Oxfordshire - Bampton Walk Map

Walks in Oxfordshire are usually well signposted, and our walk from Bampton follows well-marked paths. If you use komoot.com and want to follow our walking route using the GPS on your phone or other GPS device, then use this link to our Bampton walk.

To start the walk, leave the Market Square and head north on the A4095, signposted Witney/Brize Norton. After about 75 metres, turn left into Church Street. Turn right, pass the green, then turn left into the gate into the churchyard of St. Mary’s Church. Downton Abbey fans will recognise this place as it was regularly used during filming.

Enter the churchyard and follow the path across. The church is usually open and was used for some big scenes in Downton Abbey.

Isobel Crawley's House and Downton Village Green and Church © essentially-england.comIsobel Crawley's House and Downton Village Green and Church © essentially-england.com

Join Church Close as it turns a sharp right and follow it around onto Landells and to a T-junction. Turn right, heading back towards Market Square, and take the next right into Church View. The road bends round to the left and passes the church. The first two houses on your left were used as film locations. The first house was the Grantham Arms pub.

Bampton Library and Downton Cottage Hospital © essentially-england.comBampton Library and Downton Cottage Hospital © essentially-england.com

Stay on Church View, where after the green, the road kinks right and then left. On the corner is Bampton Library which was used as the Downton Cottage Hospital. The house on the opposite corner was used as Downton Post Office. Continue to the T-junction with the main road.

If you want more information about the film locations used in Bampton, then read our Downton Abbey village page.

The Shill Brook in Bampton © essentially-england.comThe Shill Brook in Bampton © essentially-england.com

Carefully cross the main road and turn right and walk away from Bampton on the pavement. The road crosses the Shill Brook, and we continue to take a left turn into Weald Street.

Follow the signs towards the Bampton Business Centre. The northern part of the business centre looks very security-conscious, with high wire fencing and pill boxes. I assumed this was the old Bampton Castle Radio Station.

Road After Bampton Business Centre © essentially-england.comRoad After Bampton Business Centre
© essentially-england.com
Muddy Track Heading to The Thames © essentially-england.comMuddy Track Heading to The Thames
© essentially-england.com

Continue along the tarmac road until it turns sharply right towards the southern part of the business centre.

Leave the road and move onto a farm track to continue in roughly the same direction. The track is rough tarmac, but turns to gravel after you pass large gates on the left and right. The gravel soon turns to a mud surface, and now you're looking for a footpath signpost on the right-hand side.  

The Farmers Crop Looks Pretty at This Time of Year During our Bampton Walk © essentially-england.comThe Farmers Crop Looks Pretty at This Time of Year During our Bampton Walk © essentially-england.com

Walks in Oxfordshire tend to be a delightful mix of footing and views, and this one is no exception. After tarmac and gravel, the footpath now takes you across the fields - with stiles helping you over the boundaries - and onto a couple of narrow wooden bridges until you reach Rushey Lock and Weir.

Rushey Lock on the River Thames © essentially-england.comRushey Lock on the River Thames © essentially-england.com

Cross carefully over the lock gates and follow the path along the side of the lock keeper’s cottage and on over the weir. Turn right and join the Thames Path in the direction of Radcot.

Peaceful Walking Along the River Thames © essentially-england.comPeaceful Walking Along the River Thames
© essentially-england.com
The River Thames Between Rushey and Radcot Locks © essentially-england.comThe River Thames Between Rushey and Radcot Locks
© essentially-england.com

Did we mention that walks in Oxfordshire are peaceful? Just look at this! Our route now follows the course of the meandering River Thames for about two miles. There are plenty of great opportunities along the riverbank to find a quiet spot for a picnic!

Old Mans Bridge Crossing the River Thames © essentially-england.comOld Mans Bridge Crossing the River Thames © essentially-england.com

The return route of our Bampton walk starts when we reach Old Man's Bridge, a narrow and steep wooden bridge over the Thames. Cross over and admire the views, then follow the footpath signs, which direct you along the field edge, turning left onto a slightly wider track which joins Marsh Lane on a sharp corner. Turn right on Marsh Lane and continue to the next track crossroad. Turn left and head towards the line of trees.

A Woodland Track Heading Back Towards Bampton © essentially-england.comA Woodland Track Heading Back Towards Bampton © essentially-england.com

Follow a tree-lined path and after about 150 metres turn sharp right between a line of trees. At a T-junction, turn left and follow the well-trodden track all the way back to Weald Street. Retrace your route back towards Bampton, but when the main road crosses the Shill Brook, take the small footpath on the left that runs alongside Bridge House.

Bridge House next to Start of Footpath Beside Shill Brook © essentially-england.comBridge House next to Start of Footpath Beside Shill Brook
© essentially-england.com
View Towards the End of our Bampton Walk
© essentially-england.comView Towards the End of our Bampton Walk
© essentially-england.com

The footpath runs between the brook and gardens to a kissing gate onto a grass field. Diagonally cross the field to another kissing gate and onto a stony track that leads back onto Church View by the library. Cross into Church Street and back to Market Square.

Bampton makes a useful base for walks in Oxfordshire. While there's no large visitor car park, finding parking wasn't difficult. Bampton also has a supermarket, cafés and other hostelries if lunch or afternoon tea are part of your day out.

Oxfordshire Holiday Cottages

The Oxfordshire landscape consists of gently rolling green hills and farmland which becomes hillier towards the Chilterns. There is a maze of small roads and footpaths, making it an excellent destination for walking and cycling holidays or short breaks.

For the less energetic, Oxfordshire brims with history and wonderful places to visit: the university city of Oxford and its history and grand buildings, Woodstock and Blenheim Palace, small Cotswold towns, and the River Thames.

If you're a Downton Abbey fan, then you might like to know that many of the scenes were filmed in Oxfordshire. The charming town of Bampton was used as the Downton Abbey village.

Why not visit and spend a few days wandering between spires, Roman mosaics, ancient standing stones, and green, rolling hills? Here are a few ideas of where you could stay:

Hillside Cottage
Sleeps 8

Myrtle Cottage
near Chipping Norton
Sleeps 4

Old Groom's Cottage
Minster Lovell
Sleeps 4

Jimmys Barn
Sleeps 4

Blenheim Edge
Sleeps 4

Hathaway Cottage
Hook Norton
Sleeps 2

To browse holiday cottages in other parts of England click here.

Walks in Oxfordshire are just one of the many ways to enjoy England. If you'd like to explore other areas of England, then please click here to return to our home page.