Dog friendly walks in the Cotswolds (you may not know about)
PUBLISHED: 11:27 13 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:27 13 August 2019
Nick Jackson Photography
Enjoy fresh sights and surprises walking some of the Cotswolds’ less well-known routes. And don’t forget your canine companion
It's said that travel broadens the mind. So can a few steps in a different direction from usual, taking you to new scenes or hidden historical sites. Sometimes it's simply a matter of discovering a fresh perspective on an area you think you know like the back of your hand that brings surprises. So why not walk one of the less well-known routes of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) this summer - there are plenty of choices.
Leylines and a loving brother: guided walks
Cotswold Voluntary Wardens (the voluntary arm - or in this case, foot - of the Cotswolds Conservation Board) are on-the-ground experts when it comes to exploring the AONB's nooks. You can find details of their many different guided walks at cotswoldsaonb.org.uk, then just turn up and join in; walks are free of charge but donations are welcome, with money going into the wardens' funds to help take care of the Cotswolds. Examples of less well-known walks include:
- A Brailes Trio (September 6, 10am from The George, Brailes) ventures around the three villages bearing the Brailes name: a 5.5-mile / 3hr excursion through a lesser-known part of the AONB, with exhilarating views across patchwork farmland. Perhaps lunch at The George afterwards and visit the only 'upstairs' church in the Cotswolds.
- Friday Foray: 6 Sisters and a Loving Brother, a genteel walk from Quenington to Coln St Aldwyns and return (September 13, 10am). Come along to unlock the meaning of the title for this 5.5-mile / 3hr Coln Valley ramble! Then enjoy lunch at The Keepers Arms.
I-spy: self-guided walks
There are also lots of self-guided walks you can download from the Cotswolds AONB website to inspire you to fresh discoveries, for example:
- Cornwell and Chastleton in the 'Miles without Stiles' series features glimpses of tucked-away Cornwell (the picturesque Oxfordshire estate village redeveloped between the world wars as a model village by Clough Williams-Ellis of Portmeirion fame); an Iron Age hill fort; and views of Jacobean Chastleton House. A remarkable contrast of times and lifestyles: all within an easygoing 4.5-mile walk.
- North Cerney-Cirencester, a 4-mile, family-friendly adventure ( 'Miles without Stiles'), snakes through the Churn Valley. Play 'I-spy' for graffiti-like beasts on church walls at North Cerney; an ancient sheep wash (restored by Voluntary Wardens); and a 14th-century wall painting of a saint in Baunton church. Use public transport (from Cirencester) to begin at North Cerney and treat yourselves to refreshments at walk's end.
- Northleach, Hampnett and the Saltway, a 4.5-mile circular ('Miles without Stiles') route offers further family-friendly 'I-spy' fun across hill and valley. What do you think of the 'controversial' medieval-style stencilling in St George's Church by the Victorian vicar of Hampnett? You'll encounter the Roman Fosse Way; the ancient Saltway; and the 13th-century Portway to Northleach, where memorial brasses to wool merchants in the church of St Peter & St Paul are eye-openers to medieval dress fashions.
Dog Days - walkies with canine companions
More than 90% of pet owners say that owning a pet makes them feel happy (statista.com), so exercising with your canine companion should really get the endorphins flowing. (Always remember the Countryside Code and keep Fido under effective control, especially where farm animals are in the vicinity, and clear up mess responsibly - 'bag it and bin it', gov.uk.)
Why not join other four-legged friends and their owners for Dog-Walking Sundays (first Sunday of the month) at The Halfway House, Kineton, in aid of charity. Book in advance if a large party, and turn up at 10am for a fortifying bacon or egg roll and coffee before setting off together, returning in time for a Sunday Roast lunch (and water bowl for Fido). A donation of £1 of your £15.95 is made to Walking With The Wounded.
Dog-friendly pubs abound around the Cotswolds, ideal for rambles and refreshments. The Red Lion in Long Compton, for example, has printed maps and information on walks, and 'piggy ears' for pooches on the menu. The Hare and Hounds Hotel has a dog menu in Jack Hare's Bar, including dog ice cream, and if you want to work off the calories, there's a dog-walking map around the gardens.
Or explore nearby Westonbirt, The National Arboretum - dogs on a lead are welcome on the central downs area and may go off-lead (as long as kept under control) in Silk Wood; assistance dogs are welcome throughout the whole arboretum and dog water is available in the restaurant. Dogs on leads may also join their owners on 'Secrets of Silk Wood' guided walks from 2pm every Saturday and Sunday until November.
Feeling 'dog-tired' after your exertions is rather nice!
Find lots of inspiring information on guided and self-guided walks around the Cotswolds AONB at cotswoldsaonb.org.uk.