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Cotswold Ways Walk: Dover's Hill to Chipping Campden

PUBLISHED: 13:17 21 January 2019

High Street, Chipping Campden

High Street, Chipping Campden

Kevan Manwaring

Blow away those post-Yuletide blues with this January jaunt from stunning Dover's Hill to picturesque Chipping Camden in the footsteps of novelist Graham Greene

The arrestingly beautiful streets of Chipping Campden seem like the last place on Earth where one would expect to experience the thrills of a spy novel – a cigarette lit in a shady doorway; Expressionist shadows stretching down seedy back alleys; the yowl of a startled cat; the clatter of a trash can; the shrill of a policeman’s whistle – and yet the writer of movie masterpieces The Third Man and Brighton Rock, as well other ‘entertainments’ such as The End of the Affair and The Quiet American, (Henry) Graham Greene (1904-1991) lived here between 1931-33 with his wife Vivien.

A Balliol man who went on to become sub-editor for The Times, Greene gave up his day job in journalism to become a full-time writer, and it was in Chipping Campden that he penned his first successful novel Stamboul Train (1932), which was eventually made into a film (Orient Express). This was just in time, for the Greene’s had struggled financially, moving to a rat-infested cottage (the now utterly charming holiday let ‘Little Orchard’), which they rented for the princely sum of one pound a week.

High Street, Chipping CampdenHigh Street, Chipping Campden

The wool town of Chipping Campden already had a rich artistic culture to offer Greene, with its association with FL Griggs and the Arts and Crafts Movement; and at the bottom of his lane he had a Catholic church and the Volunteer Inn to serve his spiritual and temporal needs.

Ernest H Wilson plaque on the High StreetErnest H Wilson plaque on the High Street

And when he wanted to get away from everything, Greene could walk up Hoo Lane to Dover’s Hill (secured for the nation by Griggs) and beyond, although his wide-ranging walks done for his Pekinese, who had to be put to sleep after developing hysteria, possibly triggered by the 15-mile yomps of his day-dreaming master.

The beginning and end of The Cotswold WayThe beginning and end of The Cotswold Way

With the success of Stamboul Train Greene’s hiatus in Chipping Campden came to an end and he and his wife moved back to the capital, where he launched into his extraordinary literary career, which covered novels, travel, essays, screenplays, and memoir, where in A Sort of Life he was to revisit his days as a Quiet Cotswoldian.

Trig point on Dover's HillTrig point on Dover's Hill

The walk:

1. From Dover’s Hill car-park go through gate and walk a short distance north across hillside to viewpoint, noticing the small ‘cromlech’ on your left, clearly raised by Neolithic gnomes. Savour the magnificent views towards the Malvern Hills, unless it happens to be chucking it down!

2. From the viewpoint (with its topograph) you have the choice of the Lynch Wood loop if it is open and you’re feeling intrepid; or, if you’re feeling less adventurous, simply follow the Cotswold Way acorns along the escarpment to the right.

3. As you cross Dover’s Hill impress your fellow walkers by informing them that it is the site of the Cotswold Olimpicks, started by local lawyer, Captain Robert Dover, in circa 1612. Probably not the time to try the ‘sport’ of shin-kicking if you want to maintain familial relations!

4. Follow this NE past the trig point and bench, then turn right towards gate in corner of field.

5. Follow the narrow footpath past a triangular field (popular with grazing sheep) down towards Chipping Campden.

6. At the road turn left, cross the road carefully, and continue on Cotswold Way down hill, past farm on your right.

7. The footpath eventually becomes Hoo Lane. Follow this down past some lovely houses. Half way down on your right keep a lookout for the blue plaque marking the former home of Graham Greene, ‘Little Orchard’, with its thatched roof.

8. Continue down Hoo Lane, following it as it bends to the right and down to the Catholic Church of St Catherine’s. Time for confession, or a pint in the Volunteer opposite (or perhaps both, if you want to nurse your guilt and purge it in true Greene style).

9. Turn left and walk along the High Street, exploring the many delights of Chipping Campden with its fine shops, cafés, pubs, restaurants, letter press, indoor market and more! Things to look out for: plaques to plant-hunter, Ernest H. Wilson and artist/designer F.L. Griggs; the 1690 sundial; fabulous gargoyles; the water pump; the elegant 1929 war memorial; and the start/end point of the Cotswold Way.

10. Time for a spot of lunch – follow your noses; take your pick (of eateries, not nostrils!) – before heading back up Hoo Lane to the Dover’s Hill car-park, enough of a hike to burn off that pudding, if not the main course...

Essentials:

Distance: 2.87ml/4.62km walk.

Duration: 1 hr.

Level: Moderate (muddy paths, hill).

Parking: Dovers Hill (free for National Trust members).

Toilets: On High Street.

Refreshments: Chipping Camden has several fine pubs, cafés and restaurants serving food. The Red Lion does a lovely pie and mash. Booking ahead recommended.

Transport Links: Frequent services from Cheltenham: No. 606 from Royal Well bus station.

Map: OS Explorer map: OL45: The Cotswolds

Dr Kevan Manwaring is a writer and creative writing lecturer who lives in Stroud. He is the author of several books exploring his love of folklore, legends and the landscape: The Windsmith Elegy series of novels; Oxfordshire Folk Tales; Ballad Tales; The Bardic Handbook; Silver Branch, and others. He is a keen walker and blogs and tweets as the Bardic Academic. @bardicacademic

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