Cotswold Edge Walks
A selection of walks climbing the scarp
Medieval history is stamped in the landscape thoughout this walk. Pass Sudeley Castle and the ruins of Hailes Abbey. Walk along the ancient Salt Road and explore the streets of Winchcombe. Mostly valley walking with views of the surrounding hills but some distant views along the way.
|OS Grid Ref||SP 023 284|
|Post Code||GL54 5PZ|
Park in the Back Lane car park in Winchcombe. At the North East corner of the car park follow the sign to the Town Centre. You are now walking along Cowl Lane, one of the oldest roads in Winchcombe. At the High Street turn right. After passing the war memorial, cross the road and head down on Vineyard Street. The street here is lined with small cottages but soon you will cross a bridge and head out of town.
Continue forwards on the track that leads past a gatehouse towards Sudeley Castle and Gardens. After crossing a bridge and heading uphill the track eventually veers sharp left. There is a gate on the right here. Go through the gate. An impressive multistory play area for younger visitors of Sudeley Castle soon appears on the left.
As you continue, you will catch glimpses of Sudeley Castle behind trees and bushes. Built in 1442 Sudeley is inextricably linked with Henry VIII and other English royalty and is one of the few castles left in England that is still a residence. The castle is open to the public on published dates and is well worth a visit when you have time.
As you leave Sudeley Castle follow the footpath marker posts across the field. Views of the Castle Chapel can be seen on the left. When you reach the edge of the field go through the gate and turn left. Immediately go through the next gate a few feet away and follow the path gently up hill along the left hand margin of the field.
In the corner of the field follow the footpath around to the right. Watch out for a footpath on the left. Go through the gate here and continue uphill to a road. Turn left and walk along the road towards a T junction by some working farm buildings. Now turn left, then immediately right at Sudeley Hill Farmhouse. You will see a gate and a footpath sign pointing uphill.
Go through the gate and climb diagonally across the field to a style in the opposite field boundary. After crossing this style go diagonally across the next field.
As you continue, you will see a house to the right and a smaller stone building ahead. You are heading towards a 19th century building covering St. Kinelm's Well. The well itself is thought to date back to Saxon times but, sadly, is not open to the public. (Inside is a large stone basin about 2 feet deep which is fed by a local spring.)
Go through the gate by St. Kinelm's Well and continue diagonally across the next field to a gate at the top of the hill. Here you will find a stone wall/style to the left of the gate. After crossing in to the next field, follow the dry stone wall to the right of the field. Go straight on as a track joins from the left. As you reach the brow of the hill you can see across the Severn Valley to the North.
Turn left when you reach a road. A footpath sign here indicates the Winchcombe Way but you are actually on a long distance path called the Salt Way. In medieval times salt was a commodity in short supply in many areas and particularly in London. In those days the Salt Way was the most direct route between the salt pits of Cheshire and the river Thames. You will now be following the downhill route taken, hundreds of years ago, by mule trains as they made their way back to the salt houses of Middlewich, Natwich and Droitwich.
Pass Little Farmcote Farm, keeping to the public right of way on the left and eventually go through a gate. Views across the Severn Valley and the surrounding hills constantly shift as you make your way down hill. Cross a cattle grid and go all the way to the bottom of the hill.
Take the Cotswold Way on the right, passing some cottages before going through a gate. Cross the field here and look out for the ruins of Hailes Abbey before you make your way on to a road. Hailes Abbey has an excellent visitor centre and it is well worth a break from your walk if you have time.
Turn left on the road, then left at the T junction, passing the gates of Hailes Manor on the right. As the road bears left go straight on along the public bridleway. After about 1/4 mile take a footpath on the right and immediately pass a couple of large Oak trees. At the next marker post veer left across the field. Continue along this path for about 2/3 mile crossing styles, gates and wooden bridges along the way. Eventually the path becomes a stony track. This is the end of Puck Pit Lane and following it will take you all the way back to the outskirts of Winchcombe.
At the main road, cross over and turn left. After a while the road becomes crowded with ancient buildings, antique shops, tea shops and pubs. It is now your choice whether to explore Winchcombe, have some refreshments or just return to your car. When you are finished, continue along the high street to Cowl Lane and from there head back to the car park.