Walking in Gloucestershire
The physical geography of Gloucestershire consists of three main features, one of which, the Severn Vale, divides the county on a roughly north east south west line. West of the Vale lies the high ground of the ancient Forest of Dean. To the east, rising dramatically in a beautiful wooded escarpment, are the famous Cotswold Hills. Three very different regions, but each with it's own attractions and unique landscape interests for the walker to enjoy. Forest trails, riverside walks, open rolling hills and picturesque golden villages are all on offer in glorious Gloucestershire.
Much of the Cotswold Hills are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and many of the towns are exceptionally attractive. The elegant Regency Cheltenham Spa and lovely Cirencester with its rich history as an important Roman and wealthy wool town should not be missed by the visitor; and many great walks can be planned from both towns. In comparison the towns of the Forest of Dean are rather drab, but the woodlands of this ancient Royal Forest provide a superb walking environment, with plenty of interest and a rich wildlife habitat. The area is also relatively quiet, so you may have some of the many trails all to yourself.
The majority of the Cotswold Hills area lies within the county of Gloucestershire. In the east, where the land falls gently away with rolling wolds and river valleys the landscape extends into Warwickshire. The elevation of the Hills rises towards the west, culminating in a spectacular escarpment, where the limestone plateau plunges into the Severn Vale. Stunning views and glorious beech woods are a treat for the walker following the escarpment along the Cotswold Way. The mellow limestone of the Cotswolds gives the area a unique and distinctive character. Broad open views of fields and woodland alternate with peaceful villages tucked away in hidden valleys and scenes of pasture and water meadow. The area deserves its AONB status.
Sapperton The River Frome winds its way past this lovely village overlooking the Golden Valley, which stretches from Sapperton to Chalford. Lovers of Cotswold architecture will find much to admire in this small village. St Kenhelm's church, with its Jacobean woodwork and stone monuments is an absolute gem.
Sapperton is perhaps best known for the nearby 2.5 mile long canal tunnel which takes its name. The tunnel, which carried the now derelict Thames and Severn Canal, was regarded as a major feat of engineering when first built in the 18th century. The Daneway Inn close to the village was originally built as a logging house for the miners who dug the tunnel. Later it became a watering hole for the bargees after their strenuous efforts 'legging' boats through the tunnel.
A Walk from Sapperton [SO 760297] OS Maps: Explorer™ 168
This short walk explores the upper Frome Valley, high above Stroud, where you will find the decaying remains of the Thames and Severn Canal piercing the Cotswold plateau by means of the Sapperton tunnel. This is an area of steep-sided wooded valleys, especially beautiful in the autumn months. Just occasionally a view is afforded of the locality from some isolated vantage point and quite dramatic and far-ranging these views turn out to be. Leave Sapperton village along a route which will take you over the entrance to the derelict tunnel and down to the old towpath, making for the Daneway Inn. From here follow a path heading west which is in fact the old canal towpath. After crossing the canal course at a stone and brick bridge enter the Siccaridge Wood Nature Reserve. Now walking approximately eastwards through this lovely wood you eventually cross a lane and continue into Dorvel Wood. At a secluded cottage turn right and walk uphill back into Sapperton village. About 3.5 miles.
Link to route map
Best Pubs for this walk
Bell Tel: 01285 760298 (Good Pub Guide)
The Bell is very much a dining pub offering imaginative food, but they do also offer a snack menu for walkers. The cosy rooms with stripped beams, assorted homely furniture and a flagstone floor has roaring log fires in the winter months. There are tables out on a small front lawn and in a partly covered and very pretty courtyard for eating outside. If you do have time for a meal here the food is excellent and great care is taken in sourcing the best local ingredients.
The Daneway, Nr Sapperton Tel: 01285 760297
Overlooking the overgrown waterway the Daneway is a whitewashed building with a fine Cotswold stone roof. The harnesses and brasses in the lounge are a testimony to the days of the towing horses. There is an attractive garden that slopes down to the canal bed. The range of food is as traditional as the inn itself including filled rolls, baked potatoes and ploughman's, although a more comprehensive menu is also available. A good range of ales are on tap.
This walk is fully described in the guidebook Pub Walks in the Cotswolds by Nigel Vile.
Stroud, known as the town of the five valleys, was once an important wool town famous for its cloth and dye trade which developed because of the ample supply of water to power the machinery of the many mills. It is sited at the confluence of five valleys on the river Frome, shortly after the river turns west to cut through the Cotswold escarpment. Stroud also has a famous literary association with the little village of Slad nestled in one of the five valleys. Slad was the home of Laurie Lee, whose evocative autobiography 'Cider with Rosie' brought to life the Stroud Valleys of a bygone age.The wooded valleys and hills of the Stroud area are very attractive and offer a wealth of fine walking routes with glorious views. Just to the south of the town lies Rodborough Common, 600 acres of National Trust land on hills overlooking the town and offering superb views.
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