James Blockley's March walk: Stanton, Snowshill&the Edge
Thu Mar 12 00:00:00 GMT 2009
- Start: SP071342
- End: SP071342
- Country: England
- County: Gloucestershire
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Excellent pub (with ample parking) at Stanton. Further pub at Snowshill and café at Snowshill Manor.
- Ordnance Survey: Explorer sheet OL45
- Difficulty: Medium
James Blockley, National Trail Officer for the Cotswolds Conservation Board continues his fascinating series, 'A year along the Cotswold Way'
As the snows melt away and young green shoots start to appear, the passing of March heralds transition from the dead of winter to the birth of spring. Nowhere is this transformation more apparent than the hills, valleys and woodlands of the Cotswolds, and a walk along the Cotswold Way National Trail is the ideal way to immerse yourself in the countryside as the rejuvenation begins.
Third in a series of short, easy-to-follow circular trails along the Cotswold Way, this beauty of a walk leads you between two of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds and through some of its finest countryside. Whilst slightly more challenging than others in the series, it also offers a shorter route should breath desert you. Either way, your efforts will be rewarded by invitingly warm pubs, an intriguingly eclectic manor house and some of the most splendid views in the country...
Distance: 6 miles (Shorter route 2 miles)
Duration: 3-4 hrs (Shorter: 1-2 hrs)
Difficulty: Moderate, some steep sections and stiles
Public transport: No. 606 bus from Cheltenham and a short walk (See Cotswold Way public transport leaflet, or call Traveline on 0871 200 2233)
OS reference: Start/Finish at SP071342: Explorer sheet OL45
Refreshments: Excellent pub (with ample parking) at Stanton. Further pub at Snowshill and caf at Snowshill Manor.
1. Start at the Cotswold Way signpost towards the top of the village, just down from the Mount Inn (where parking is available, should you wish to rest a while at the end of your walk). Look for the old lamppost on the triangle of grass and follow the Cotswold way up the road to the right, past the thatched cottage. Just before the water station, the Cotswold Way leaves the track to follow a footpath down to the right and through two gates. After you pass the small pond on your right, watch your footing and climb steeply up the track beneath tall beech trees until you reach the way-marker posts at the top.
2. Continue on through the kissing gate to the left of the house, and follow the track across the field for half a mile until you reach a cattle grid at the end.
3. At this point you leave the Cotswold Way for a while and head towards Snowshill. (For the shorter route, skip forward to point 6 and turn left to take the track downhill back towards Stanton, ignoring the Cotswold Way signpost). Watching for traffic, walk along the road until you reach the entrance to Littleworth Wood on your left. Take the track through this peaceful little woodland, owned and managed by the National Trust, until you reach the gate at the end. Continue down across the next field towards the kissing gate at the far left corner, turning right along the road and left at the T junction. Take another left turn and continue down into Snowshill. Pass through the delightful village between the pub and the church, past the carpark and entrance to Snowshill Manor. As well as its beautiful gardens and excellent facilities, this wonderful 16th century manor house is worth a visit for its eccentric collection of worldwide curiosities alone.
4. At the next access road on your left, cross over a stile and down through the field past a line of magnificent oak trees. Head through the next field and pass through the kissing gate at the far side, turning left to follow the fenceline downhill. Go through the gate at the bottom and veer left up through the woods, turning right just before the next gate. Continue up along the edge of the woods with the fence on your left, watching for muddy patches after wet weather, and cross over the stile at the top. Walk steeply left up the narrow field towards the line of trees until you reach an old iron kissing gate. Turn right and follow the farm track for half a mile until you reach a field gate between the two woodlands.
5. After pausing for a few minutes to catch your breath, cross over the stile on your left and follow the footpath down across a field to the track at the bottom. Turn left to rejoin the Cotswold Way and continue up the trail for about a mile, past a house and old quarries on your left, until you reach the waymarker post at the top next to where you left the Cotswold Way nearly four miles earlier.
6. Turn right along the track down towards a field gate, and continue downhill along the steep-sided path. Be careful to watch your footing along this track, but also not to miss the awe-inspiring views over Stanton and across the Severn Vale into Wales that open up below you - once tasted, this slice of Cotswolds will never be forgotten. Passing through the last gate at the bottom of the track, you emerge next to the Mount Inn. Continue down to the left of the pub towards the start point, or take the chance to rest tired feet at a warm and welcoming Cotswold inn - the perfect end to a perfect walk.
The Cotswold Way National Trail is funded by Natural England and managed in partnership with the Cotswolds Conservation Board and four local highway authorities. It provides over 100 miles of highest quality access to England's largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. For more information or to plan your trip please visit www.nationaltrail.co.uk
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