- Start: SO967170
- End: SO967170
- Country: England
- County: Gloucestershire
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub:
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer sheet 179
- Difficulty: Medium
As the Cotswolds approach the midpoint of the year, the growth of summer reaches a crescendo. Trees are now in full leaf, providing welcome shade from the strengthening sun, and young birds such as willow warblers and yellowhammers flash colour an...
Countless butterflies too cast their delicate grace over the countryside; the Small Blue flits between Kidney Vetch springing into life across the meadows, and the Common Blue grows strong on the sun-coloured Birds Foot Trefoil. Calm, warm nights promise you nocturnal ramblings enchanted by growing numbers of bats on the wing, flying with speed and agility for their share of the burgeoning larder of summer.
All of this bustling life and busy feasting await you in the Cotswolds, so follow the Cotswold Way and breath deeply on the glorious scent of summer.
June: The Leckhampton Loop
At this time of year, some of the best places to immerse yourself in the nature and history of the Cotswolds lie around Leckhampton Hill as the grasslands, tended and nurtured by volunteers, start to burst into flower along the slopes and summits. The site is famous for its orchids, and on your walk you might glimpse the beauty of the Common Spotted or the conical purple splendour of the Pyramidal varieties. Look closely, tread gently and you might also be lucky enough to catch sight of the rare and bewitching Bee Orchid...
Sixth in our sequence of approachable circular walks along the Cotswold Way, This slightly longer walk guides you around one of the most beautiful and varied stretches of the National Trail. From rich grassland to peaceful woodlands, from Iron Age remains to Victorian quarries, this route offers up a taste of the entire Cotswold landscape in seven sheltered and windswept miles.
7 miles (Shorter route 5 miles)
4 - 5 hrs (Shorter route 3 - 4 hrs)
Moderate, one stile and some steep sections
No. 51 bus (Cheltenham - Swindon): ask for Seven Springs (See Cotswold Way public transport leaflet, or call Traveline on 0871 200 2233)
Start/ Finish at SO967170:
OS Explorer sheet 179
Pub at Seven Springs. Others nearby at Birdlip and Leckhampton.
For two shorter walks, the route can
be completed in two clockwise circles starting from the same point and using the short cut; five miles around Leckhampton Hill, and four miles
via Wistley Hill.
1. Start at the lay-by opposite the pub, and take the footpath up towards the busy roundabouts, following the Cotswold Way as it leads down the narrow road off to the left. At the junction, follow the track straight on.
2. Continue to follow the Cotswold Way up to the left, along the edge of the meadow and through the trees until you emerge onto grassland at the top of the slope. This precious nature reserve is expertly managed in partnership with volunteers from the Friends of Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common (FOLK). Keep on the Trail as it follows the edge of the scarp for just over a mile, eventually passing through ramparts to the left of the pine trees. Enter into this Iron Age hillfort, built between 500 and 100BC, and continue on towards the viewpoint.
3. Take a few minutes to breathe in the magnificent views, and then follow the path to your left, through the gap in the bushes. For a short detour to an iconic Cotswolds landmark, the Devil's Chimney, follow the path down to the right. After puzzling at this intriguing monument to the hill's quarrying past, retrace your steps and continue to follow the Trail along the top of the hill to the left of the quarry car park. At the road, leave the Cotswold Way behind and head right downhill for about 400 yards.
4. Just before the house, take the footpath on the right, up and left through the woods. Continue along this peacefully enchanting woodland path for just over half a mile, keeping the tumbledown wall on your left, until you reach the old quarry buildings at the junction of five paths. Take the second path on the left, an old quarry tramway, and continue straight downhill to the fence and gates at the bottom. Turn right and continue to follow the road after it becomes an unmade track for half a mile along the bottom of the escarpment, eventually forking right to take the narrow footpath.
5. At the end of the path, follow the waymarkers left, then right, then immediately left (a 'dog-leg'), and pass through the gap in the trees to emerge onto the open grassland at the top of the golf course.
To follow the shortcut, ignore the left turn onto the golf course and continue on the wider path along the bottom of the hill until you rejoin the Cotswold Way at point 2.
Keeping the woods on your left, continue to follow the waymarkers around the edge of the golf course. Stay on the path as it leaves the golf course and enters the woods, taking good care down the flight of steps. Emerging onto the road, turn left and follow the narrow footpath, past the golf club until you reach the hotel and pub on your left. Keeping a good eye and ear out for traffic, cross over the road and head up Timbercombe Lane onto the bridleway. Where the path splits in three take the right hand path through the woods, eventually passing through a gate onto open grassland.
Continue to follow the waymarkers across the pasture and up the farm track, turning left after the farm buildings to follow the bridleway up over the fields towards the tree line. Pass over the stile, and head left across the next field towards the gate at the far side. Turn immediately right and follow the path uphill and round to
the left towards the line of trees, turning right at the fingerpost to rejoin the Cotswold Way.
6. Carry on around the edge of the hill, where a bench is ideally placed to rest awhile and soak up what is surely one of the Cotswolds' most breathtaking views. Stay on the Cotswold Way as it weaves around the farmland, down a woodland track, and along the field boundary eventually crossing the road to turn left back towards the lay-by. This spectacular and diverse walk is now at an end - congratulations for going the extra mile!