Thursday, July 28, 2011

More Cotswolds Than You Can Shake a Stick At...

The Cotswold Way is roughly 102 miles long stretching from the un-assuming Chipping Camden to the ever famous city of Bath. The Cotswolds are a series of hills in the Western Midlands, covering 90 miles north to south and 25 miles east to west. These are not the Alps (the highest point is 1,083 feet) however you will get some of the best views in all of England, with the picturesque green meadows, stone walls, and (quite) a few sheep here and there. Those who love thatch-roofed cottages and pubs with pints and views will LOVE the Cotswold Way.

To be fair, I have not done the entire Way. I have gone from Leckhampton Hill to Winchcombe, however I have been blown away by the scenery which that portion provided. So I decided to take the 606 as far as it could (Broadway) and hike to Winchcombe.

Below are some pictures from my travels and a Google Map of my route. I highlighted the town of Stanton- the quintessential English village, and Hailey Abbey. The Abbey's remaining structure (nothing more but footing) is both a historical and photographic gem.

View of Broadway from Burhill Farm. Broadway was so named due to its wide street. Which, in American standards is still quite small (I would love to see two oncoming Humvee's duke it out) but for England well consider it a 4-lane highway. It used to be the main road between London and Worcester before some M# came along.
Broadway offers plenty of pubs and of course the Broadway Tower looming in the distance.

Stanton is a tiny town along the 12 mile route, but its so cute you have to stop and look around. Thatched-roof cottages are the norm rather than the exception, and you know villagers take pride in their little slice of England. I suggest stopping in for a drink at The Mount Inn, soaking in the views in summer or warming up the fireplace in winter. There are a few B&Bs here and with plenty of trails around this would be a good base camp for weekend walks. Or, the 606 bus comes daily with stops in Winchombe and Cheltenham, so if you got the time there is no excuse to stop in for the day.

About an hour walk from Winchcombe is Hailes Abbey. Built in the 13th century, it is not short of historical happenings, and was even a bit gruesome (many there died with the Black Death in 1361) at some points. Not too far away is the Hayles Fruit Farm and Restaurant, which offers tasty snacks and meals to those who make the journey. They also are one of the few places on the Cotswold Way where hikers can camp.

Winchcombe is a fairly large town with many of amenities for walkers and tourists alike. They just recently opened up their own 42-mile walk around the Northern Cotswolds. You see some of their blazes (yellow with footprints) along this section of the Cotswold Way. To reward yourself for a walk well done, you can treat yourself to Juri's Tea Rooms or if you fancy a pint try the White Hart Inn or The Fish Bar just off the High Street if some fish and chips is more your celebratory style :) Sudeley Castle a quick walk away, and if you are continuing the Cotswold Way Walk or are up to the uphill huffing and puffing, the burial mound Belas Knap is an hours walk.

The GPS of this route is from I added my own pushpins to show my start/finish, and other highlights of the walk.

View Cotswold Way in a larger map,

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