THE river Isbourne flows like a linear oasis through the intensively farmed Vale of Evesham, its lushly vegetated banks alive on warm days with the humming, buzzing, rustling and squeaking of tiny forms of wildlife, from bees, butterflies and clouds of damselflies to shy, secretive shrews, mice and voles.

It’s rewarding to walk alongside the Isbourne in summer, but it’s even better to find a secluded spot and sit there quietly for a while, in the hope of seeing much more than if you were to pass by without stopping.

Despite this abundance of riverside life, the river itself does not qualify as ‘good’ in ecological terms, due to a dearth of fish.

This isn’t due so much to poor water quality as to the number of former mills which line its banks – a surprising 22 altogether.

Though the mills are now redundant, the weirs and other water-control features associated with them are still big obstacles to fish trying to travel upstream. The Environment Agency is experimenting with various measures which should make life easier for them. It’s a small river, the Isbourne, covering just 13 miles in its journey from Cleeve Hill, near Winchcombe, to Hampton, on the edge of Evesham, where it flows into the Avon. As if to emphasise its smallness, it’s known locally as Hampton Brook.

Yet it is apparently a remarkable river in its own way, because it’s claimed that it is one of only two rivers in the world to flow north.

The other is the Nile, all 4,000 miles of it.


START Evesham town centre, grid reg SP035436.

LENGTH Six miles/9.5km.

MAPS OS Explorer 205, OS Landranger 150.

TERRAIN Mostly fields, both pastoral and arable; no hills.

FOOTPATHS Mostly excellent, except that one has been ploughed up.

Waymarking is absent in places but the paths are so well used that the route is rarely in doubt.


PARKING Evesham.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Numerous trains and buses (166/550/551) from Worcester; Hampton Ferry, usually available from about 9am to 5pm; etables, 01905 765765,, 08457 484950.



1 Boat Lane leads directly to Hampton Ferry, leaving Evesham at Merstow Green, opposite the Almonry Heritage Centre at the bottom of Vine Street. After taking the ferry across the Avon turn left and follow the riverbank to a junction.

Turn left again, continuing by the Avon to its confluence with the Isbourne. Follow this to Pershore Road and cross to a footpath opposite at Brookside, soon turning left at Mill Road. The path soon enters riverside meadows and is easily followed upstream.

2 When the path enters woodland you’ll see a notice posted by West Mercia Police about keeping dogs on leads and respecting the surrounding ‘nature zone’ for the protection of wildlife. A few paces further on there’s a waymarked junction a little to the right. Go to the left here and follow a trodden path to Hampton Mill where there’s an unmarked junction. Our onward path is to the right but you might want to go left first for a better view of both the mill and the river, which the path crosses at a bridge.

Resuming the walk, turn left when the path returns to fields.

3 Turn left on a track (no waymarking) and cross the Isbourne. Turn right and follow the river closely. Approaching Hinton on the Green, cross the river again at an easily missed footbridge. Turn left and struggle along a poor-quality path, where the field has been ploughed right to the edge. Cross a road and turn right, then soon left on Bevans Lane to Hinton.

4 After passing a house called Ambleside take a footpath on the left. Follow it past gardens into a field and turn right.

Rejoining the road, turn left, then take the next path on the left, opposite the church. Walk along the edge of a garden then straight on across fields towards a gabled, brick house next to three pointy conifers. Cross a road to the left of the house and take a clear track which soon passes left of Narrow Meadow Farm and then left of a leylandii hedge and a group of pine trees. Keep straight on, to the left of a line of trees. When you come to a gap in the trees there’s a junction. The route described below goes straight on but if you would prefer to return by the Isbourne you should turn left instead.

5 If you do keep straight on, you should turn right at the next gap in the trees, where waymarked, and walk along the right-hand edge of a field, past a wood, then turn left. When you come to Evesham United FC look for a notice warning about keeping dogs on leads. Go diagonally from this point, between two pitches, to the left corner of a fence, then proceed to a hedge gap. Go diagonally across a field to Cheltenham Road and turn left on the footway.

6 Take Corn Mill Road (a bridleway) on the left and follow it to an unmarked junction, with a wooden shed on the left. If you go straight on here you’ll return to Hampton Mill and the Isbourne, should you wish to return that way. If you turn right you’ll eventually come to a point where a gap in the trees gives access to a junction with another track, where you turn left. Follow it to Pershore Road and turn right.

Cross Abbey Bridge and then walk through meadows to Abbey Park.

Take any footpath, or Bridge Street, to the town centre. NB Abbey Bridge is currently closed to pedestrians but a temporary footbridge has been erected nearby.