6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Cotswold Life today click here

Cotswold Ways Walk: Romantic Miserden to Wild Whiteway

PUBLISHED: 16:38 19 February 2018

Wishanger Farm (c) Kevan Manwaring

Wishanger Farm (c) Kevan Manwaring


Be inspired by the unspoilt delights and dells of Miserden and the fascinating Tolstoyan community of the Whiteway Colony

The beautiful sleepy corner of the Cotswolds where the unspoilt village of Miserden can be found, preserved as in amber from the ravages of modern life (it bucolic charms used as a location for TV and film productions such as Cider with Rosie), seems an unlikely place for Bolshy goings on and nudist anarchism, but just a mile and half away that’s just what happened. Picture the scene: the symbolic burning of deeds impaled on the end of a pitchfork. This was how the Whiteway Colony started, with a disavowal of individual ownership. The anarchist community, founded on noble Tolstoyan principles in the embers of the Nineteenth Century (1898), spreading its firebird wings to shelter ‘socialists, pacifists, ‘immigrant anarchists, Spanish refugees & wartime COs’ under its aegis. Idealistic principles like no money, communal living, naturism and free love attracted inevitable voyeurism, suspicion, and even, at one point in the 1920, Home Office interest, when it was investigated as a security risk. A couple were paid to infiltrate. They reported back wild tales of ‘promiscuous fornication’, but alas, evidence that could stand up in the light of day was lacking. ‘Manners had they none and their customs are beastly,’ wrote an official in 1925. Yet somehow Whiteway weathered the storm and became established, crude dwellings being slowly replaced by a network of bungalows, a village hall, school, youth club, a bakery, playing fields and a swimming pool. The presence of a handicraft guild, gardening group, football team, and a small press give an impression of a healthy, creative community.

Over the years it has attracted famous visitors including Gandhi and Allen Ginsberg. And yet, like any community, it has had its share of misfortune and infighting. The fact of its continual presence is a testimony to its visionary founders. It seems a million miles away from the feudal legacy of Miserden (The name Miserden derives from Musardera, “Musard’s manor”), now a handsome, well-managed estate with a village shop/PO, primary school, parish library and atmospheric pub where Morris dancers are likely to be spotted, leaping jauntily about, perpetuating the quintessentially English idyll, now home to the novelist, Ian McEwan.

Miserden Castle (the remains of the motte and bailey can be found deep in the valley) was a setting in one of the Ellis Peters medieval sleuth series (Brother Cadfael’s Penance), but that’s as exciting as it gets these days.

It is not the go-to destination for the thrill-seeker, unless you have a serious book habit! But on a Sunday afternoon there are few pleasanter spots in England, especially with a drink in hand by the flickering hearth of The Carpenters Arms.

(c) Kevan Manwaring (c) Kevan Manwaring

The walk:

1. Park in Miserden by The Carpenter’s Arms. Walk downhill, turning left at central tree ringed by a bench. Follow road along until you reach the Lutyens’ war memorial and charming church, St Andrews, with its impressive lych-gate and yew portal. The interior is worth visiting for the fine tombs.

2. Back on the lane, continue past St Andrews, the Parish Library and village school and the village shop and Post Office. Ignore first footpath on right leading down to trees; carry on a little further until you come to the footpath on your left (a little wooden gate) – go through this and, heading west, cross the narrow triangular field, until you come to another lane.

3. Cross this and continue straight ahead into next field. On your immediate right (SW) there is the remains of a Neolithic earth barrow (no more than a slight rise in the field). Making a diagonal, strike out across this field (a public right of way) until you the far corner; here climb over a stone stile.

4. Descend the steep field. Ignoring the path that crosses the track, keep heading down towards a hedge. As you approach, a gap appears. Go through this to a second field. Carefully drop down to the houses. You’ll emerge by some friendly goats.

5. Turn right here, following the lane up the hill until you reach a footpath on your right, take this and head north towards Wishanger, following edge of the field.

6. You’ll emerge by Yew Tree Cottage. Turn right here and walk along the road.

7. At Wishanger Manor (Farm) turn left past the impressive farm buildings.

8. Now follow the valley up until you emerge at Whiteway village. Notice the distinctive dwellings on your left.

9. As you reach the main road into Whiteway, you could explore the village, returning to this spot, then proceed up the footpath opposite, which climbs up over the field until eventually dropping down towards Barn Wood.

10. At Barn Wood follow the main trail down to the stream.

11. Cross over and take the path right up the side of the vale.

12. Eventually you come out at the edge of the trees, a field of corn on your left. Follow this path along South East.

13. When you hit the footpath coming from Caulde Green on your left, take a right into the corner of the field. Cross the stone stile (or the gap down to the path if you don’t want to climb over – warning: it can be slippy!).

14. Now head south along the path, dropping down to the vale bottom, crossing a track and keeping straight ahead (the path narrows but persist). It drops steeply down to a clearing. Cross this and ascend up the other side (this can be slippery so walking poles essential).

15. At the brow of the hill head to footpath signpost and cross stile (or go through gate to the right if legs tired). Now, heading south cross field to intersect the hollow lane which winds up to the village.

16. When you reach the metalled lane, take this left as it wends to the left of the nature reserve. It drops down between the trees to a five-bar gate. Here you ascend back up to the village. Its steep but it affords great views of Miserden, and remember – a pub awaits at the end!

Need to know:

Distance: 4.73ml/7.62km walk

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

Dog-friendly: Yes.

Parking: Miserden village

Pub: The Carpenters Arms, Miserden, Birdlip, GL6 7JA. Telephone - 01285 821283

Map: www.mapometer.com/walking/route_4647368


Welcome , please leave your message below.

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

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, 10:09

Enjoy a day in the sunshine at these wonderful Pick Your Own fruit farms in the Cotswolds...

Read more
Yesterday, 10:08

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
Friday, June 15, 2018

There are plenty of fantastic events in the Cotswolds this summer, and many can be enjoyed with man’s best friend in tow. Mark Lewis, Managing Director of Cotswold RAW, the biologically appropriate raw food for dogs, talks us through what’s coming up for you and the family to attend

Read more
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

This month the city of Gloucester is celebrating the life of one very powerful women; an Anglo Saxon queen who sent enemies packing with boiling beer and bee hives, and fearlessly fought off Viking invaders

Read more
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Perhaps one of the most famous locations in the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water is renowned for its pretty waterside views and quaint limestone buildings. We’ve assembled a guide to help you make the most of your time in this picture-perfect village.

Read more
Monday, June 4, 2018

The Cotswolds landscape reflects a remarkable 6,000 years of human influences

Read more
Friday, May 25, 2018

It is the highest town in Oxfordshire, was once a major industrial hive for wool and tweed, took part in the rather bizarre ritual of wife selling in the mid 19th century and is home to the ‘Aspirin Man’. Chipping Norton is certainly a colourful place, full of character and charm whilst maintaining a down-to-earth friendliness. I took my mum, dad and daughter number three with me to explore this vibrant little Cotswold town and had a few surprises of my own

Read more
Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Cotswold designers are celebrating after picking up gold and Best in Show at the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Words by Mandy Bradshaw

Read more
Monday, May 21, 2018

Britain is home to many an unusual tradition, and the region of the Cotswolds is no exception. Here are 11 of the strangest pastimes from this corner of England, including cheese rolling, duck racing and wool sack racing!

Read more
Monday, May 21, 2018

Some previously unseen treasures are on show as part of Sudeley Castle’s stunning new exhibition

Read more
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Kevan Manwaring takes the Thames Path through the Cotswolds from Kemble to Wallingford - 77 miles of glorious countryside

Read more
Monday, May 14, 2018

We’re surrounded by oceans of plastic; and so are the oceans. Our plastic bags are clogging Earth’s waters; microplastics are entering the food-chain, as birds, fish and other creatures mistakenly feed off them; even wildlife nearer to home – in the Cotswolds themselves – is killed and poisoned by this litter. So is it possible to live without plastic? And will that save the Earth? Katie Jarvis has no idea – but she tries it for a week

Read more
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

To celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the birth of circus, the Cotswolds’ own Giffords is back with a new tent, freshly-painted wagons, glamorous outfits and talented extended family to throw a summer-long party you’ll never forget, says Candia McKormack

Read more
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Stunning views, fascinating heritage, great pubs – what’s not to like?

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

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

Cotswold's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search