• Start: Golf clubhouse
  • End: Golf clubhouse SO989272
  • Country: England
  • County: Gloucestershire
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: Bar café/restaurant at Golf Club.
  • Ordnance Survey: Explorer sheet 179
  • Difficulty: Medium


The passing of May marks the transition from spring to summer. The hills, valleys and woodlands of the Cotswolds become increasingly vibrant and full of life, with only the very occasional frost to remind us of the long winter now past.

Birdsong reaches a crescendo this month with nature's opera, the dawn chorus, at its enchanting and vivacious best. Across the countryside, nearly all the trees are swathed in green, with magic carpets of bluebells laid out beneath in the wild garlic scented woodlands. More and more wildflowers begin to show their colours across the grasslands too, and wild explosions of white from hawthorn blossom and cow parsley line the footpaths and byways as they begin to dry out for the summer. Lengthening days also bring the prospect of evening walks, and with so much of the Cotswold Way facing the west, awe-inspiring sunsets become a familiar backdrop to the perfect after-dinner stroll.

May: The Cleeve Hill Ring

Number five in our series of short, accessible circular trails, this invigorating walk leads you over open hilltops, across streams and through woodlands, immersing you in one of the country's most fascinating and precious habitats - limestone grassland.

Over half of this wildflower and butterfly rich natural resource is within the Cotswolds and some of the finest examples are on Cleeve Common. All year round the unsurpassed views will take your breath away and fill you with life, but in late spring and summer especially, the emerging wildflowers such as the Common Spotted Orchid delight the senses and the graceful colours of butterflies such as the Duke of Burgundy please the soul. The Cotswold Way travels through so much more limestone grassland and past so many unrivalled vistas, continuing to follow the National Trail will lead you to more and more of these wonderful, enchanting, fragile areas of abundance and natural beauty.


6 miles (Shorter route 4 miles)


3 - 4 hrs (Shorter: 2 - 3 hrs)


Moderate, no stiles but some steep sections (Shorter: Easy,
no stiles and mostly level)

Public transport:

No. 606 bus from Cheltenham/ Winchcombe - ask for Golf Course junction (See Cotswold Way public transport leaflet, or call Traveline on 0871 200 2233)

OS reference:

Start/Finish at SO989272: Explorer sheet 179


Bar caf/restaurant at Golf Club. Toilets and extra parking for customers.

1 Start at the quarry car park next to the golf clubhouse. With the Cotswold Way fingerpost at your back, turn left to follow the track down around the bottom of the hill. As a wonderful view of Winchcombe nestled in its valley opens up to your left, carry on following the Cotswold Way down through two metal field gates.

2 For a shorter route that avoidsthe steep climbs but doesn't miss out on the views, turn right immediately after the second gate to leave the Cotswold Way and follow the track around the bottom of the hill. Continue all the way along the side of the gully, eventually turning left onto the wider track at the top. Head straight across the common and make directly for the radio masts at the end to rejoin the route at point 5.

Follow the Cotswold Way down towards the trees and through
the gate at the bottom, past farm buildings and through a few more gates. Once you meet the road
at the end, turn right and continue uphill, past the houses on your left. Continue through to the end of the farmyard, and take the gate on your left, turning right downhill towards the stream at the bottom.

3 At any time of the year, the shade of the woodlands and the calming sound of peacefully flowing water make this little bridge the ideal spot to stop and rest awhile before the climbs ahead. When
you are ready, cross over the bridge and follow the trail up to the right. At the top, pass through the gate and across the paddock, turning right when you meet the road. Carry on past the stable, and continue to follow the signs through the woods. After the steep climb snaking up the wooded hillside, a kissing gate is well placed on which to lean and catch your breath. Keep on following the Cotswold Way to the end of the woods and along the edge of an open field, until you reach a kissing gate and finger post at the far side.

4 Leaving the Cotswold Way behind for the time being, turn right and follow the unmade road down towards the deserted farm buildings. Immediately afterwards, turn right through the gateway
and follow the path slowly uphill through the fields towards the radio masts in the distance.
Pass through a gate back onto the common and take the path on the right towards the waymarker post, and continue to head for the masts.

5 At the masts, turn right to follow the fenceline until you meet the Cotswold Way. Continue right along the edge of the escarpment, past some of the finest views in England, over the golf course,
and down towards the reward awaiting you at the clubhouse.
A rest at the end of your walk is a chance to plan the next...

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