The Cotswold Way is a long distance walking trail that runs between the city of Bath in the south and the town of Chipping Campden in the north.
|The Cotswold Way in the Stroud District|
The Trail is 102 miles (164 km) long, and runs for most of its length on the Cotswold escarpment. It passes through many picturesque villages in the Stroud District and close to a significant number of historic sites, stunning view points and many beautiful historic churches, houses and gardens for example;
- Painswick and Haresfield Beacon
- The Tyndale Monument in North Nibley
- Uley Bury
- Uley Tumulus
- Coaley Peak
- Selsley Common
- Stinchcombe Hill
- Kingswood Abbey Gatehouse
- Frocester Tithe Barn
- Woodchester Mansion
- Wotton-under-Edge Heritage Centre
- Prinknash Abbey Park
- Painswick Parish Church
- Painswick Rococo Gardens
The Cotswold Way has existed as a promoted long distance walk for over 30 years. Following many years of lobbying by the Ramblers Association and others, its special qualities have been recognised and in 1998 the government approved its development as a National Trail. This designation is a very special one and there are only a small number of other trails in England with this special grading.
Examples of favourite walks along the Cotswold Way
Crickley Hill - Painswick (8.5 miles)
From Crickley Hill to Birdlip the Cotswold Way is routed through national trust land to cross the A417 at the Air Balloon Inn, then along Barrow Wake. Here there are stupendous views over Gloucester to May Hill, with its clump of summit trees and beyond that to the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons.
|Painswick Church Yard|
Follow the route to the Peak, then through woods to cross the B4070 (Roman Road – Ermine Street) below Birdlip Village. There is then a 3 mile walk through beech woods to Cooper’s Hill, scene of cheese rolling on Whit Mondays.
The route continues through woods to come out on the A46 at Cranham Corner, but to visit Prinknash Abbey leave path (GR 886139) turn right down the steps leading to a picnic site on the A46. After crossing the road at Cranham Corner follow woodland tracks to public access common land at Painswick Beacon, another fine viewpoint. Cotswold Way itself does not go to the viewpoint, but follows the bridleway and footpaths to the east of the golf course.
Enter Painswick past the walkers’ car park (GR 868105), which please use if car assisted rather than the main village car park. Painswick is one of the most attractive Cotswold Villages. Note the yew trees in the churchyard, the stocks and the sixteenth century Court House.
Painswick - Coaley Peak Picnic Site (11.5 miles)
Field paths are followed from Painswick to Edge, then a small section of rough walking over Scottsquarr Hill leads to a woodland track and paths to Haresfield Beacon, one of the best viewpoints on the Way.
|Poppy Fields in Edge|
To reach the Stroud valley, the route descends gradually through beech woods, then more steeply by field paths to Ryeford. Cross the B4008 to the Stroudwater Canal (in the process of restoration with much voluntary labour and huge Heritage Lottery funding recently secured by British Waterways for the project).
From here the route crosses the busy A419 Ebley bypass and makes for Kings Stanley, Middleyard and Penn Wood. A second route will also be available here following development, which can already be followed and is 1˝ miles further, takes an easterly line along the canal towpath and by a double lock to Ebley Mill, (the district council offices).
Then crossing the bypass (light controlled) into Stanley Park and so over Selsley Common and round the base of Pen Wood. Tracks through woods and fields along the lower slopes of the escarpment then gradually rise through woods to come out after 2˝ miles at Coaley Peak picnic site.
Coaley Peak - Dursley (4 miles)
An open long barrow lies at the far end of the field. The path then comes out on the escarpment again at Frocester Hill, continues along the edge then through an old quarry, which is a nature reserve and out on to a minor, but fairly busy road.
After about 75 yards it plunges into woods again, first downhill, then gradually up to the junction which is known locally as Crawley Barns. At this point, Hetty Pegler’s Tump (long barrow) has been bypassed, but the walker who has time to linger may like to divert to view it. Likewise, a diversion of about a mile can be made on a circuit of Uley Bury, one of the finest hill forts in the Cotswolds.
From Crawley Barns a switchback route takes the walker to Dursley, first steeply down through the wood, then up onto Cam Long Down. An improved new route, which comes off Cam Long Down was opened in August 2005.
The new route heads South-South-East (SSE) from the dip between the long down and Cam Peak to Farfield and then heads South West (SW) into Dursley. Dursley was formerly a busy centre of the clothing trade. Note the old market house and explore behind the church for old houses and a tiny well of clear water.
Dursley - Wotton-under-Edge (7 miles)
A steep climb by road and woodland path leads to Stinchcombe Hill. Cotswold Way takes a path right round this plateau, mainly for the extensive views (a short link is proposed to allow the option of cutting out the circumnavigation of the plateau).
The path then drops through woods and fields before going up a green lane to North Nibley. Tyndale’s monument, on Nibley Knoll, may be climbed, but it means collecting the key in the village and returning it before continuing the route. William Tyndale first translated the Bible into English (see also Little Sodbury).
Following the southern edge of the hill, the path enters Westridge Woods and passes Brackenbury Ditches, another hill fort. After leaving the woods, a path long side a field leads to Wotton Hill.
The Way then drops steeply down to Wotton-under-Edge, yet another Cotswold wool town. Former home of Isaac Pitman and Edward Jenner, the town has many fascinating historical features including the Tolsey, Rope walk, almshouses, church and Ancient Ram Inn (a private house).
You will need an Ordnance Survey Explorer Map for general navigation. Relevant maps for the Stroud District area are 168 and 179 of the Ordnance Survey Explorer Map series.
Other Useful Links
Cotswold Way Walks - Find out about walking in the Cotswolds
South Cotswold Ramblers - Find out about the local Rambling Club
The Ramblers Association - More information on rambling in the Cotswolds
Text for the examples of Cotswold Way walks has been provided by Mavis Rear at The Ramblers Association.
The following photos were provided by; Natural England -Jo Ward, Haresfield Beacon, Painswick Church, Tyndale Monument