'The Fairest Brewery In All The Land'
Donnington Mill was perhaps one of the Mills of Broadwell Manor, which dated back to 1291. In the 16th century it was used as a Cloth Mill which the Lord of the Manor of Donnington rebuilt and converted into two Corn Mills circa 1580.
However, early in the 17th century, the Mill became a separate freehold estate and in 1827 the buildings were bought by Thomas Arkell, whose descendant Richard Arkell started a Brewery there in 1865. The Brewery flourishes today and has been owned and run by the Arkell family ever since.
Claude Arkell, the grandson of the founder, passed away in 2007 after 50 years at the Brewery. Today it is owned and run by James Arkell. Some of the neighbouring land is owned by the family and, until the mid-1960s, it provided barley for use in the brewing process. However, since that time malt has been supplied by Norfolk maltings together with hops obtained locally from Worcestershire.
Today the Millhouse is still there in splendid condition and operates as part of the Brewery. Even the mill wheel is still used to drive small pumps and machines. The end product, Donnington's traditional beers, are still produced by much the same recipe that has always been in use. The basic requirement, that is water or, in brewing terms "liquor", is drawn from a strong spring beside the mill pond and has proved to be satisfactory for use in the brewing process in its natural state.
Two regular draught beers are brewed; 'BB' 3.6% abv and 'SBA' 4.4% abv Double Donn is also a regular bottled beer. Special ales are now occasionally brewed; Founders Ale, Diamond Queen and Donnington Gold. Of the Brewery itself, the setting and the architecture can only be described as idyllic, with beautiful Cotswold buildings, carefully tended lawns and paths leading down to the mill pond at the head of which is a Trout Farm.
Unfortunately, the brewing process is not a subject that lends itself to the spectator and Donnington would soon become over-run if it were open to the public, so very reluctantly Mr Arkell cannot entertain visitors. However, dropping in to purchase beer by car is always acceptable.
Donnington Brewery brews real ale in the heart of the Cotswolds and maintains 17 inns in arguably the country’s ideal location. For many, the name of Donnington means more than good beer; it’s a whole way of life.
The Donnington Way
Now, the pleasure that is Donnington is opened to the rambler in the form of a 62-mile circular walk appropriately called ‘The Donnington Way’. You can join the walk at any point in its 15 pub-to-pub sections.
Some Donnington Inns offer bed and breakfast facilities, enabling you to walk distances of your choice. Almost 90% of the walk is in Gloucestershire,although parts of the way pass through Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire.
All rights of way listed have been walked to establish their existence on the ground, following wherever possible public footpaths and bridleways.
To help you along the way maps have been drawn for each of the 15 sections, but for greater detail consult OS Outdoor Leisure 45 ‘The Cotswolds’ map which covers the entire route.