Sian Ellis of the Cotswolds Conservation Board enjoys some blue sky thinking
Enjoy some breathtaking Cotswold views and big skies this summer
Here of a Sunday morning, My love and I would lie, And see the coloured counties, And hear the larks so high, About us in the sky.
So runs A E Housman’s poem Bredon Hill, and while it’s true that the summertime reflections segue into a wistful tale of love and loss, the choice of a Cotswold viewpoint as the place for happy memories is bang on the money.
Thanks to its dramatic geology, the Cotswolds is full of such elevated vantage points, lifting us into the sky and unfurling long, long views. All along the escarpment from Bath to Chipping Campden, across the open wolds, and swooping down hills into valleys the most exhilarating panoramas make the heart beat faster (literally as well as metaphorically if you’ve just had a climb).
Whether looking out from, or into, the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – from Cleeve Hill and Common to Cheltenham or vice versa, for example – our views are precious and deserve the protection that AONB designation helps to provide. So as August unrolls, get that picnic together and give yourself a well-earned escape with glorious views. Here are some favourite days out.
SKY’S THE LIMIT
• Explore Bredon Hill, Worcestershire, and get in poetic mood at the summit with panoramas of the escarpment, Vale of Evesham, Malverns and Severn Vale, www. visitbredonhill.co.uk
• Wander the Cotswold Way above Winchcombe and peer down on Sudeley Castle amid fields and trees – over 1,000 years of estate history captured in a glance, www.nationaltrail.co.uk/ cotswold-way
• Pick up picnic supplies in Bath and head along Bath Skyline walk for 6 miles of changing scenes and stunning vistas of the World Heritage City, www. nationaltrust.org.uk
• Climb to the hilltop at Ilmington where the ‘roof of Warwickshire’ reveals vast views, or let the open hilltops on a 6-mile stride around Cleeve Hill Common Ring take your breath away; download walks at www. cotswoldsaonb.org.uk
• Enjoy the wildflower-speckled beauty of Elliott (Swift’s Hill) Nature Reserve – and Slad Valley farmlands stretching away into the distance, www. gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk • Tackle the Ironstone Hills, off-road cycling around Brailes Hill and Ascott; or spin across the high wold with its open fields on a Northleach Hazleton ride. Download trails from www. cotswoldsaonb.org.uk
• The Cotswold Edge, local ridges and thermals make the area great for gliding and bird’s eye views. Enjoy soaring in blue skies, www. cotswoldgliding.co.uk and www. bggc.co.uk
ABOVE: The fields around Northleach