STARTERS FOR 10
While steeply up and down in parts, the Cotswold Way can be enjoyed by walkers of all abilities and appeal to all interests. Here are just ten ideas for starters to get exploring:
1. POETRY IN MOTION
Get in the mood to connect with the landscape at Chipping Campden, reading TS Eliot’s words on the Cotswold Way start (or finish) marker at the Market Hall: “Now the light falls across the open field, leaving the deep lane shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon...”
2. LANDSCAPE LOOP
From rich grassland to peaceful woodlands, from Iron Age remains to Victorian quarries, the circular Leckhampton Loop offers up a taste of the entire Cotswold landscape in 4.5 sheltered and windswept miles (7.3 km).
3. THE WILD WAY
Download ‘Going Wild’ activity sheets from the Cotswold Way website and have fun with the kids as you explore, including making crowns and masks from autumn leaves.
4. PAUSE FOR THOUGHT
Pause at Belas Knap Neolithic long barrow, en route between Winchcombe and Cleeve Hill, to be infused with a deep sense of history – all the more so when autumn sunshine casts deep shadows or frost speckles the grassy mound.
5. BREATHTAKING VIEWS
Of course, the views are breathtaking throughout – how about those from Charlton Kings Common (en route between Dowdeswell and Leckhampton Hill) looking over Cheltenham and the Severn Vale to make you feel high above the hurly burly.
6. EASY ACCESS
Easy access sites for less mobile explorers include Coaley Peak (Nympsfield), Dover’s Hill (Chipping Campden), and Haresfield / Shortwood.
7. UP (AND DOWN) FOR A CHALLENGE
If you like some ups and downs, tackle the 7.2mile (11.6 Km) section between King’s Stanley and Dursley, which has 771 feet (235 metres) of ascent and 951 feet (290 metres) of descent. 8. REFRESHING THE PARTS Refreshments are never too far away. The puff over Shenberrow Hill, for example, is amply rewarded by the descent into Stanton for a lunchtime or evening energy-recharge in The Mount Inn.
Get on the geocache trail – like high-tech treasure hunting – right along the Cotswold Way.
10. BATH TIME
Feel a genuine sense of pilgrimage as you slide from open hilltop into the World Heritage City and right to the carved stone disc in the pavement outside Bath Abbey – marking the end of the Cotswold Way.
Belas Knap Neolithic long barrow, en route between Winchcombe and Cleeve Hill
Above: Have fun with the ‘Going Wild’ activity sheets from the Cotswold Way website