Wiltshire: Leigh Chancel Loop
Follow in the footsteps of the church that moved
In 1896, All Saints’ Church in Leigh was moved from its original position just south of the Thames to its current site on Swan Lane. This walk follows that journey, taking in the remains of the medieval chancel that was left behind, and the re-erected church on Swan Lane.
Distance: 2.5 mile circular walk
Time: Approx. 1-2 hours.
Difficulty: Gentle, flat walk. Some unstable stiles that some walkers may find challenging. Fields liable to flooding in wet weather - bring wellies!
Parking: Park in the Waterhay Car Park. 1 Happy Land, Leigh, Swindon SN6 6QY. Parking charges apply.
Map: See an interactive map of the route on Komoot.
1. Turn left on the road out of the car park and cross the bridge over the Thames. Take the first right, following the sign that reads ‘Church’.
2. Continue approx 100m down this road and then turn right, following a sign marked ‘Chancel’ down a dirt track.
3. Walk to the end of this track. You will see a large field with a gate on your left and another two gates on the right. Head towards the rightmost of these gates. The Chancel is in the field beyond the gate.
Enter the chancel using the purple door, and admire the 18th-century texts from Genesis, Isiah and St Matthew painted on the walls. See the Chancel guidebook for more information.
4. Once you’ve explored the chancel, exit back through the gate you entered and head over to the field opposite.
5. Walk straight ahead across this field until you reach a series of three stiles tucked away in the opposite corner.
6. Cross the three stiles into a small triangular field. Keep to the left of this field and cross a further two stiles on the other side.
7. Walk through three more fields, keeping to the left until you reach a working horse farm. Follow the path as it bends through the farm, and emerge through the final gate onto Swan Lane.
8. Turn right on Swan Lane and walk 100 meters. The new site of the church is on your left.
The new church was re-erected stone by stone in the same layout as the old church, apart from the porch, which was placed on the north side to face the road, and the new and larger chancel that was added to the nave.
9. After visiting the church, retrace your steps on Swan Lane. Keep going past the horse farm, past the 30 and 40 signs, past the Waterhay turning on the left and across a small bridge.
10. You will see a footpath sign on the right. Do not take the footpath - instead continue on the road past the cluster of stone cottages until the road starts to bend to the right. Here, take the gate on the left and follow the bridle path through the field, keeping to the left.
11. Continue following the bridleway though the next field. When Archers Farm is on your left, you will see a small gate straight ahead of you, nestled in some bushes.
12. Go through the gate and follow the short path to the next gate.
13. Once through the gate, turn right and follow the small tree-lined track until it meets the road.
14. Turn left on the road and walk ahead for approx 100m.
15. Take the footpath on the left opposite the Waterski School and the post box.
16. Cross to the opposite corner of the field. Hop over the stile and then bear left in the next field to another stile that leads into a small gathering of trees. Follow the short path through the trees and cross another stile into a large field.
17. Walk diagonally right across this field towards the gate in the far right hand corner.
18. Turn left once you’re through the gate and follow the hedge on the left hand side until you reach the gate at the end of the field.
19. Cross the stile and walk straight ahead, passing the house and garden on your right, until you meet the road.
20. Turn right on the road and walk to the junction. Turn left here and stroll back to the car park on your right.
Fancy continuing your walk? Why not explore the lakes of the Cotswold Water Park? See the map in the Waterhay Car Park for routes.