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Flowers in meadow
Wildflower meadow | © National Trust Mark Bolton

Sutton Lane Meadows nature walk

Explore one of the best meadow sites in Wiltshire, a registered Site of Special Scientific Interest. Expect stunning wildflower displays in summer that attract butterflies, and hedgerows laden with berries in autumn that draw hungry birds. This circular 5 ½ mile walk also takes you through farmland, along sections of river and past some pieces of local history.

Total steps: 22

Total steps: 22

Start point

Lay-by at Sutton Lane Meadows, grid ref ST 94968 77590

Step 1

Park in the layby by the track to Sutton Lane Meadows, opposite Langley Burrell Farm. Follow the Sutton Lane Meadows sign down the track, enjoying the chorus of birdsong and the buzzing of insects from the hedges either side.

Step 2

Go through the kissing gate at the end into Sutton Lane Meadows. In the summer, the display of wildflowers should be stunning. Turn right, following the grassy path, and through a gap into a second field; this is the best spot for orchids in April and May. Continue diagonally across the field along the grassy path to the opposite corner.

Step 3

Climb over the stile into a field, not part of Sutton Lane Meadows itself, and turn left following the grassy path. At the corner of the field, climb over another stile, with the National Trust Sutton Lane Meadows sign on it, and into the third and final meadow. Head right, diagonally across the field, following the grassy path to the stile in the corner.

A small copper butterfly on a wildflower
Look out for the small copper butterfly among the summer wildflowers in the meadows | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Step 4

Climb over the stile, cross the stepped bridge and then the stile at the end. Continue straight across the field towards the large oak tree. Cross the small bridge under the oak, climb over the stile and continue straight across the field towards the next stile in the hedge line directly in front of you.

Step 5

Climb over two stiles a yard or so apart then cross the bridge into the next field. Continue slightly diagonally right across this field, following the meandering grassy path under the power lines. Look to your left for panoramic views of the Avon Valley and surrounding countryside. Look right and you'll see a tall oak tree to the left of a large pylon. Continue down the slope to the stile just to the left of this oak near the corner of the field.

Step 6

Climb over the stile and turn left onto a trackway. Head downhill along the track and straight over the stile directly in front of you. The blue plastic piping on this stile, and others along the walk, protects you from the electric fence. Continue straight across the field, towards the metal gate with the white sign.

Step 7

Go through this gate, across a bridge over a small stream, then through the next gate. At this point, turn right and head towards the metal gate ahead of you. Once through the gate, head diagonally across the field, following the line of power cables above, towards a gap in the hedge with a broken stile.

Step 8

Once through the gap, continue straight across the footpath and into the field opposite. Go diagonally across the field, still following the line of power cables above, towards a stile just to the left of a small copse of trees.

Step 9

Climb over the stile into the next field and turn immediately left, following the field boundary all the way to the bottom of the field.

Step 10

At the very bottom of the field, just as the boundary starts to bear right, you'll find a partially hidden stile. Climb over it and cross the bridge into the next field. Continue straight across this field, heading for the gap in the hedge with a footpath sign. Climb over the wire covered with blue pipe and onto a hardcore track.

Step 11

Turn right and head towards the farm buildings. When you get to a crossroads, turn left and continue along the track through the farm itself. This is a working farm so take extra care and keep an eye out for moving machinery and tractors. The public footpath bends round to the right and then to the left, following the main track, before emerging through a gateway onto a lane.

Step 12

Continue straight down the lane until you turn right onto a minor road. To continue on the route you will then turn almost immediately left down Crossing Lane. However, about 30yd past this junction is The Langley Tap pub, the perfect place to stop for lunch or a drink.

Step 13

After turning down Crossing Lane, go over the bridge across the railway and carry on down the lane. At the T-junction, turn right then at the bridleway sign, turn left.

Step 14

At the end of the bridleway, cross over the large concrete bridge in front of you, go through the gate at the end and turn immediately left, following the River Avon as it meanders along on your left. You will eventually pass a Second World War defensive structure on the left and see a metal gate slightly to the right in front of you. Go through the gate, cross over the very long bridge and go through the gate at the other end. Take the left-hand fork and follow the grassy path, still keeping the river on your left.

Step 15

Go through into the next field where you should see a small church in the distance. Head towards the church along he meandering paths through the grass. Just as you lose sight of the church behind some trees, a long brick causeway should become visible ahead. When you reach a fork in the path, take the left to approach the causeway from the left-hand side.

Step 16

Climb the short flight of steps up onto the Maud Heaths Causeway and stop to read the memorial pillar on the opposite side of the road. Turn right and walk along the causeway towards St Giles church at the other end.

Step 17

Continue along the pavement. Just past the house on the opposite side of the road are two large metal gates set back from the road. A public footpath sign points towards them from the pavement (partially obscured by vegetation). Cross the road and climb over the stile on the right-hand side of the rusty gate. Turn left onto a hardcore track and head up the track towards the line of trees.

Step 18

As you pass through the trees, turn immediately diagonally right and head across the field towards the large metal barn ahead of you. There is a stile in the hedge in front of this barn with a white 'please keep to the footpath' sign on it. Climb over the double stile and head diagonally right across the field towards the field gate to the right of the next barn. Go through the gate, shutting it behind you, and head diagonally right across the field, to the right of the wooden barn and towards the stile in the hedge marked with a Public Footpath sign and yellow arrows. Climb over the stile, cross the road and go through the gap in the hedge directly ahead of you. Cross straight over the field, keeping about 44yd (40m) to the left of the row of power lines.

Step 19

About 44yd (40m) to the left of the last pylon is a tiny gap in the trees. Beyond this is a stile but you may have to hunt for it as it's not visible from the field due to the multiple rows of young trees that have been planted in front of it. Climb over the stile and head straight on across the fields towards the farm buildings in front of you, climbing over four more stiles along the way.

Step 20

This is a working farm so keep an eye out for moving machinery and tractors. Pass between the two large barns in front of you and follow the public footpath sign straight over the crossroads where the track immediately bears round to the left. Follow the track through the farmyard and, with an open barn in front of you, turn right onto a muddy track. Continue along this track until you reach a T-junction where you turn left towards the railway bridge.

Step 21

Walk under the railway bridge and into the field. Head diagonally right across the field towards a gap in the hedge near the river. Go into the next field and turn left following the meander of the river, past the concrete and metal weir, until you reach a metal gate on your left-hand side.

A white egret paddling in rippled water
As you pass the weir, you may catch a glimpse of an egret. | © National Trust Images/Hilary Daniel

Step 22

Go through the gate and turn left to head back to the weir. Cross over the weir – know as the Avon Mill Radial Gate – and turn right onto a track, which then bends left away from the river. Follow the track until you pass beside a large metal gate and emerge onto the road, with the lay-by where you parked your car on the opposite side.

End point

Lay-by at Sutton Lane Meadows, grid ref ST 94968 77590

Trail map

Ordnance Survey map of Sutton Lane Meadows nature walk, Wiltshire
Sutton Lane Meadows nature walk, Wiltshire | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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Sutton Lane, Sutton Benger, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 4LW

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