CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Cotswold Ways Walk: Springing thyme on Bredon Hill

PUBLISHED: 14:04 23 March 2018

Don’t lose heart: the views will be worth it!

Don’t lose heart: the views will be worth it!

Candia McKormack

A bracing walk up to the summit of Bredon Hill is the perfect way to see in the Spring. A local saying warns ‘When Bredon Hill has on his hat, men of the vale beware of that’, but whatever the weather the charm of Elmley Castle and its inn will more than compensate!

The distinctive bulwark of Bredon Hill is, at 981 ft, the highest in the Cotswolds. It is a magnificent summit to ascend on a spring day, affording edifying views over Worcestershire and Gloucestershire and beyond. It draws the eye and inspires the legs, and has attracted the attention of Celtic chieftains and Roman centurions, a raggle-taggle of merry fair-goers followed by a disapproving bustle of Victorian worthies, plus a whole murmuration of poets, artists, writers and composers.

The most notable bard to be associated with it is A.E. Housman, who immortalised it in his classic evocation of the land of lost content, A Shropshire Lad: XXI, ‘In Summertime on Bredon’. With its memorable opening lines of ‘In summertime on Bredon/The bells they sound so clear;/Round both the shires they ring them/In steeples far and near,/A happy noise to hear’ it may seem like an odd choice for brisk March, but the poem that begins so optimistically strikes a chillier note half way through (‘But when the snows at Christmas/On Bredon top were strown,’). Like the two counties the hill overlooks, the poem seems to position itself between two extremes, tonally and thematically. Halfway between winter and summer seems like the ideal time to check out the source of Housman’s inspiration.

The view from Bredon Hill, WorcestershireThe view from Bredon Hill, Worcestershire

An outlier of the Cotswold Hills, Bredon (etymologically, Bre: ‘hill’; Dun: ‘hill’: so good they named it thrice!) has some fascinating features including Roman earthworks (Worcestershire’s largest hoard, of 4,000 coins, was discovered there in 2011), the romantic tower known as the Parson’s Folly (or more prosaically, the Banbury Stone Tower), and some strange stones. Most notable of these, unmissable indeed as the ‘elephant on the hill’, is the so-called Elephant Stone.

Until c. 1876 a fair and summer games were held on the hill every Whitsun, until things got a bit too Bacchanalian for Victorian sensibilities and the tradition ended. Today it remains a popular spot for hikers and picnickers.

The Banbury StoneThe Banbury Stone

The walk:

1. Park in at the picnic area, just outside Elmley Castle. Heading towards the ridge, cross over the stile and proceed along the edge of the field.

2. Heading south-east, carry along the top end of the field until you reach a metal gate, where the path joins the Wychavon Way.

3. Through the gate make your way through the woods, climbing the steep track.

4. Just past a little footbridge over boggy ground, you will see, on the rise, a footpath sign pointing right, between the trees. Taking this, make your way between Fiddler’s Knap and Castle Hill.

5. Keep climbing, heading up to the ridge. Don’t lose heart: the views will be worth it!

6. Finally you emerge out on the ridge. Now the way is a lot easier. After you’ve caught your breath (there is a bench conveniently situated for this purpose) turn right, and follow the path along the edge of the escarpment, with the slope of Long Plantation on your right.

7. The footpath drops down a few contours, but soon regains the height as you push up to the tower, which will soon hove into view. Nearly there!

8. Following the path along the edge westwards, you’ll pass through the earthworks of Kemerton Camp, finally reaching the magnificent Parson’s Folly, aka Banbury Stone Tower, which is nowhere near Banbury! It is apparently a derivation of ‘Baenintesburg’, a fact you can impress your friends with (perhaps!). The tower was built in the mid-18th century for John Parsons, MP (1732–1805), squire of Kemerton Court and intended, somewhat optimistically, as a summer house.

9. Admire the views, you’ve earned them!

10. Before you leave the tower (retracing your steps along the path) take a moment to squeeze through the King and Queen Stones – it’s meant to be good for your health (unless you get stuck of course)!

11. Continue back past the fort to the point where the footpath starts to drop down the hill. Take this first turning on your left.

12. Follow the path as its descends the hill back towards Elmley Castle. It eventually emerges by some farm buildings (Hill House Farm) at the top of Hill Lane. Follow this metalled lane down to the village.

13. A footpath on your right cuts off a corner of the field, but either way, it’s not far.

14. Turn right into the village. Proceed along past the charming houses with their heavy eaves of thatch, Tudor beams and babbling brook. A more charming corner of England it would be hard to find.

15. Around the corner you come to the Queen Elizabeth Inn. Time for refreshments!

16. Once restored, take the narrow alley opposite the pub back to the picnic place carpark. Well done!

Need to know:

Distance: 4.88miles / 7.85km walk

Level: Moderate. Some steep/muddy sections. Suitable footwear and walking poles essential.

Dog-friendly: Yes.

Parking: Elmley Castle picnic area

Pub: The Queen Elizabeth, Main Street, Nr Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 3HS

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Yesterday, 12:33

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Mon, 15:25

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One hundred years ago this month the guns fell silent, marking the end of what was to become known as The Great War. Stephen Roberts remembers the impact the war had on Cotswold lives from 1914-1918

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being a region so steeped in history, there are plenty of locations in the Cotswolds with spooky stories from over the years. From bloody executions, eerie apparitions and headless horsemen, we pick 23 of the most haunted locations throughout the Cotswolds to visit if you dare

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New bat cams installed at Woodchester Mansion help study protected breeds while also becoming an added attraction for visitors. Jo Barber looks at the work of one of the UK’s foremost bat experts and the mansion’s valued volunteers

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From an all-boy, all boarding prep school for just 30 pupils, to the quietly trailblazing yet still traditional school it is today – here is a snapshot of Beaudesert over its 110-year history

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Of all the castles in the region, none have seen as much war, romance and royalty as Sudeley over its dramatic 1,000-year history. And with such a colourful and eventful past, it is easy to see why some people believe there could be spirits from bygone eras which still wander the halls and corridors to this day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Following a record year for ‘visitor giving’ donations via local businesses, applications are invited to fund conservation projects

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search