Circular Walk 25  (6 Miles)

Walk Overview

This easy 6 mile circular walk starts at The Kings Head, near Napton on the A425 where you can obtain refreshments. (There is some limited verge parking on Tomlow Road if you are not taking refreshment at the pub). The route soon joins The Millennium Way along the Oxford canal then across flat farmland & open countryside, turning south to follow the Grand Union Canal and Oxford Canal providing a feast for those interested in narrow boats and history of our canal network. There are some easy stiles and the walk is dog friendly apart from some farm livestock. For the first part of the walk, you will enjoy the delights of The Millennium Way where you will be guided by the distinctive black Millennium Way waymarkers.

Walk Details

  • Start: King’s Head on A425, Napton CV47 8NG
  • Start Grid Ref: SP456 618
  • Parking: King’s Head car park or roadside
  • Refreshments:
    • King’s Head (01926 812202)
  • Maps: OS Explorer 222 or OS Landranger 151
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Time: 2½ hours
  • Stiles: 4
  • Download: Walk GPS (GPS Exchange Format, GPX)
  • GPS and GPX explained
  • Find a mobile app on the Apple App Store or Google Play

Updated June 2020


Walk Instructions

Section A

Our 6.5 mile walk starts from the Kings Head, near Napton on the A425.  Exit from the pub car park and turn right for a few  yards to reach the crossroads. Here turn left into Tomlow Road. After 75 paces take the first lane on the left signed Stockton 2 miles and continue along to reach the canal bridge. Cross the bridge and go immediately left down a few steps and through gate, turning right to join the tow path ( taking care on a couple of eroded sections.) Stay on tow path with canal left and, just before bridge 111, turn right off the tow path (beside Bridge House, previously a pub) up steps to arrive at the main road. Go right along main road for 50 paces then cross stile right onto grassy passage.


The Kings Head

Here you will see the first distinctive black Millennium Way waymarker, which will guide you along this section of the walk. Continue down grassy passage into field and go with hedge left. Take corner stile and go with hedge left to field corner, then go right for 25 paces to take stile and plank bridge on left. Go ahead across field, aiming towards the tall chimney in the far distance, to reach hedge gap. (At times these fields can be ploughed or cropped so you might have to walk around the field edge or follow tractor tracks). Cross a track and go ahead across field to pass mid field power pole. Maintain line to come to ditch / plank bridge gap, with waypost, just to right of single tree. Here go diagonally 1/2 right across field to take kissing gate ( which almost obscures the waypost ) and then follow the Millennium Way marker to go with hedge right to end of field. Stay in field and go left for 30 paces to take large metal gate on right.

Section B

Go with hedge right and at hedge corner continue same line across field to take mid fence bridge. Go diagonally 1/2 right to take hidden hedge stile 20 paces in from fence end. Go ahead across field heading directly towards mobile phone mast to go through large metal gate just to the left of the mast, to join vehicle track (you can go right around field edge, over stile and turn left to mast). Go ahead on track to pass cemetery on left and then Stockton Parish Church, to reach the road. Continue left of closed Barley Mow up School Street, passing the school on left, to reach convenience store. Here we leave The Millennium Way. Turn right into High Street passing The Crown Inn. Bear right at the junction, passing "The Boulder and the Pump" on the corner to the end of High Street to meet the main road.

Section C

Cross road into Elm Row and at the end where the road swings right into George Street stay straight ahead along surfaced track for approx 100 yards then stay ahead where track narrows through gap into large overgrown scrubland. Go ahead for some while with hedge left and where the path diverges bear left and then go through gap ahead onto track. Turn right with hedge right for a few paces and leave the track on right, where a large concrete slab has been laid, to go along bricked footpath with metal railings on right. At the far end of the metal railings, go through metal gate and continue past buildings to reach road. Go left on main road signposted Rugby. Go gently uphill to cross the old railway bridge then cross second bridge over canal. Immediately after crossing the bridge go right to join towpath then continue left along towpath with canal right.


Canalside Ramble

Section D

Here you have joined the Grand Union Canal for nearly two miles. Proceeding along the towpath we pass Ventnor Farm Marina and from the bridge here you have lovely views to the north towards Rugby and Draycote Water. We then pass Calcutt flight of locks where the canal turns due south. Then on the right is Calcutt Marina where there are usually plenty of narrow boats coming and going. After a short while you will have good views to your right of Napton Reservoir which is home to many species of bird life. We eventually arrive at Napton Junction where The Grand Union Canal meets the Oxford Canal.

Section E

Here we go under bridge 17 then immediately left to cross the same bridge and drop down pathway left on to the Oxford Canal towpath to go with canal left (be careful especially in wet weather as some erosion of the towpath has occurred making the path rather narrow in places). Quite soon we pass Napton Marina on our left and reach bridge 109. Turn right immediately before bridge 109 to pass through a metal gate to reach the road. Turn left at road going over the canal bridge and continue down Tomlow Road to reach the main A425, where we turn right to arrive back at The Kings Head.

Points of Interest - What to know and what to see...

by Andy Botherway

There are two pubs on this circular - The Kings Arms in Napton and the Crown Inn in Stockton (which would be an alternative start point with easier parking in local streets). There is a convenience store in Stockton.

Stockton's name was first recorded in 1272, the name meaning 'a fenced enclosure'. Stockton developed as an industrial village in the 19th century. Areas of blue lias clay, a raw material used in cement manufacture surround the village. The chimney of the now closed cement works can be seen for miles around.




In 1898 a large fossil of an Ichthyosaurus was found locally and is now in the Natural History Museum in London. An image of an Ichthyosaurus is used on the sign at the entrance to the village.

The church, built of brown and red sandstone, is dedicated to St Michael and all Angels. In 1824 the right to appoint the priest was bought by New College Oxford and the college still has a say in the appointment.

Parts of the church were rebuilt starting around 1530. The oldest part is the south wall of the chancel (14th century), the tower may be 15th century.

The most famous Stockton clergyman is Archdeacon Colley of Natal. He had a glass topped coffin. At one Sunday evening service, he startled his congregation by climbing into his coffin in all his robes and was carried around the church. The reason for this was to demonstrate that he was not afraid of dying. The coffin was kept in his study and those who attended confirmation classes had to sit on it. Another of his ideas was the speakpipe. In the rectory garden there was an observatory against the wall. There was a pipe from this down to the road. The children would recite their lessons to him and if their answers were right, they were rewarded with apples, nuts or pennies.

Large galvanised steel fences have been erected around the former deep quarry pits (known locally as ‘cally pits’) to prevent public entry. These are very unpopular with locals.

The area around the canal between Calcutt locks and Napton junction has been extensively developed, with new marinas accommodating hundreds of narrowboats and a large boat hire operation.

Napton Junction is the link between the Grand Union Canal and the southern section of the Oxford Canal. During the 1960s pleasure boating began to grow in popularity and replace the old trading boats. After a fact-finding cruise on the Oxford canal, Barbara Castle (then Minister for Transport) rejected a proposal for closure. The canal is now thriving. In the summer it is one of the most crowded canals on the network.


Calcutt Locks

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