Walks around Didcot: Sutton Courtenay pools

This is a short walk but one of my favourites. It’s a lovely walk beside the river and shaded pools, perfect for a sunny Sunday afternoon. Perhaps have a pub lunch in Sutton Courtenay and enjoy this stroll afterwards.

Culham Lock car park

Park in the large free car park at Culham Lock. Exit the car park onto the road and turn right, crossing the two bridges towards Sutton Courtenay.

Path from Culham bridge to Sutton Courtenay
Path from Culham bridge to Sutton Courtenay

Once over the bridge, take the signed footpath into the field on the right hand side. The entrance can get overgrown in summer so keep a close eye out for it.

Footpath into Sutton Pools
Footpath into Sutton Pools

Follow the footpath, initially beside the river, back to Sutton Courtenay. At the far side, cross the stile and follow the short road until it meets the main road through the village. Turn right and walk as far as the sharp bend.

H.H. Asquith blue plaque, Sutton Courtenay
H.H. Asquith blue plaque, Sutton Courtenay

When you reach the bend continue round for a few metres to spot the blue plaque on The Wharf.  This is dedicated to prime minister Herbert Asquith who lived here from 1912-1928. Asquith is the great grandfather of actress Helena Bonham Carter who just happens to own Mill House, opposite The Fish pub.

Retrace your steps back to the sharp bend and take the signed footpath into the pools.

Sutton Courtenay pools

Sutton Courtenay pools
Sutton Courtenay pools

Follow the footpath around the pools, over the sluice gates and beside the river. Last summer a kingfisher sat on one of the concrete blocks (on the right hand side) almost every time I came round here. I loved watching it; sadly it’s not around this year but if you see it please comment to let me know.

View from sluice gate, Sutton Courtenay pools
View from sluice gate, Sutton Courtenay pools

This is also a good spot to indulge in house envy. Oh, to own a property with river access. (Or maybe not, as it sometimes floods here!).

Sutton Courtenay weir hydro power
Sutton Courtenay weir hydro power

You’ll come to a bridge over the weir.  On the far side is an Archimedes screw hydro power scheme which was installed a couple of years ago.

Beside the river

Follow the path straight on between the fields. I heard a cuckoo here earlier in the season but haven’t seen it. However there are often lots of other birds, butterflies and dragonflies to watch out for.

Bridge over Culham Cut
Bridge over Culham Cut

Cross the bridge over the river.  If you’re lucky, and the water isn’t too disturbed, you might see some quite large fish in the river below. And very occasionally, another kingfisher. There’s usually human activity on the river too, from kayakers to rowers and holiday boat owners. In case you can’t tell, I spend a lot of time on this bridge! (It’s where I stop for a break on one of my running routes).

Footpath beside Culham Cut
Footpath beside Culham Cut

Over the bridge, turn right and walk back alongside the river to the lock, and car park. If you’re not in a rush, sit awhile on one of the chairs and wait for a boat to come through the lock. It’s the perfect end to this short scenic walk.

Walk information

Sutton Courtenay pools walk
Sutton Courtenay pools walk

Start and end point: Culham Lock car park, beside the bridges.

Distance: Approximately 2.2 km, 1.4 miles

Terrain: well marked footpaths, beside river and across field. Paths through pools can flood in heavy prolonged rain. If walking with children watch them carefully as you’re beside water almost all of the way.

Refreshments: pubs in Sutton Courtenay.

4 Replies to “Walks around Didcot: Sutton Courtenay pools”

    1. Hi, I think there are a few sections that would prove tricky – there are a couple of steps at the large weir and crossing the bridge over Culham Cut would be difficult too as it’s quite steep. You could park at Culham and then take the Thames path beside the river towards Abingdon but it does get quite overgrown. Alternatively in Didcot you could take the cycle routes out from Ladygrove to Long Wittenham (see my post on this) or along the old railway bank to Upton.

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