Suggestions for things to see/do - North section of Cotswold Way
March 3, 2023 7:47 AM   Subscribe

We have booked a walking tour for the north section of the Cotswold Way in June (21-27) of this year. The tour company handles the inn bookings, and will transfer any luggage we won't be carrying while walking between inns for us. We are looking for suggestions for things to see and do along the set route, especially in and around a few of the small villages where we will be staying. We will NOT have a car. More inside...

The route takes us from Chipping Campden to Painswick with overnight stays in Stanton, Winchcombe, Cleave Hill, Dowdeswell, Birdlip (love that name) and terminating in the aforementioned village Painswick. For Dowdeswell the tour company will transport us to accommodations as there either aren't inns that participate or have shortages, so we don't really need suggestions for that village. We ass-u-me that they will lodge us in Cheltenham though, so perhaps suggestions for there?

We do not know where we will be staying specifically as the tour company is checking for places that are as cat-free as possible as my partner is deathly allergic (seriously). So we aren't looking for accommodations, just restaurants, sightseeing, etc.

We like old stuff. We like neolithic stuff, medieval stuff, etc. My partner likes pens and stationery, wool and knitting, and occult things like tarot, etc. I like craft beer and CAMRA. I am eager to try scrumpy! I also like nature (hence the walking) and photography. We both like locally-sourced good food and drink and bookstores, but as we were in Hay-on-Wye last year that last bit isn't high on our list for this trip.
posted by terrapin to Travel & Transportation around Welwyn Hatfield, England (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'm guessing you're not going to have much appetite for additional walking, but Broadway Tower is quite close to your route and is a folly with great views over the vale of Evesham.

Depending on where you are in Cheltenham, Montpellier is probably worth a walk and super cute. It's the most Cheltenham-y bit of Cheltenham. Lots of little bars and restaurants.

If you get bored of the twee, Gloucester is very close to Cheltenham, they basically merge into each other, and an easy bus or taxi ride away. Gloucester Docks has a couple of museums, with the Waterways museum about canal infrastructure in the UK and one about the soldiers from Gloucester who served on the World Wars.
posted by Faff at 3:12 AM on March 4

On the scrumpy front, look for stuff that's written on a chalk board. Scrumpy has a short-ish shelf life and should change fairly regularly. Keep an eye out for brown cardboard boxes in a fridge. Do not fall for Old Rosie on the hand pull pumps or, god forbid, Rattler. Both are mass produced bilge.
posted by Faff at 3:49 AM on March 4

Best answer: The area is well stocked with Neolithic remains. The Cotswold way will take you right past Belas Knap, a well-preserved long barrow. You might also want to drop into the long established Winchcombe Pottery. Coming off Cleve Hill you will cross over the River Chelt before hitting the A40, turn right (towards Cheltenham) and you will hit Dunkertons Cider . It's very good cider and quite an exciting discovery since I didn't realise it was there (its on the outskirts of Charlton Kings, the village I grew up in. I have some very deep roots in the area, particularly close to Birdlip). Back on the path its up and over and onto Leckhampton Hill, home to the Devils chimney. Thought to be an 18th century quarryman's joke, the views are spectacular, and I was told the inspiration for the chess board in Alice Through The Looking Glass (the original looking glass is supposedly in a house in Charlton Kings) - the land below used to be a patchwork of small market gardens.

As you get close to Birdlip you will pass Crickley Hill country park, home to an Iron Age hill fort. The Golden Heart at Nettleton Bottom, a Sixteenth century stone pub with good food and beer is close to Birdlip. Definitely worth stopping in.

There is a Roman Villa at Witcombe just off the Cotswold way. Close to there you will pass by/through the Beech Woods at Coopers Hill Nature Reserve. (Coopers Hill is also the home of cheese rolling). A little further on you will also pass through the Beech trees in Pope's Wood. Local story has it that many of the tree's in the area where planted by Laurie Lee's uncle. (He lived in Slad the next valley over). I've not been but the Rococo Garden at Painswick looks like it might be worth a visit.

You can find the good independent bookshops in the area on this Google Map I keep of independent bookshops.

It's the other side of Stroud, but the Yellow Lighted Bookshop is the stand out for me, and Nailsworth is worth visiting. There is a great restaurant there called Wild Garlic. Rodborough Common above Stroud is home to Winstones Ice Cream. A small family firm that's been making ice cream since the 1920's. Justifiably popular with the local, it was the stuff of childhood legend for me, but turns out be just as good I remember and easily competes with the fancy artisanal ice cream I encountered living in Portland, OR. There are old earthworks a little further on Minchinhampton Common. Both Nailsworth and Stroud are an easy ride on the local bus that passes through Painswick.
posted by tallus at 10:24 AM on March 4 [4 favorites]

One more thing The Weighbridge Inn is a 17th century pub, famous for its pies, that's a convenient way stop on a walk that will take you from Nailsworth in a circular fashion through Box Wood, I think, past the Earthworks on Minchinhampton Common, over to Rodborough Common (and Ice Cream) before dropping down into Stroud. The Yellow Lighted bookshop sold me a handy laminated map with local walks that covered this IIRC.
posted by tallus at 10:36 AM on March 4

Best answer: I used to live just outside Nailsworth. Seconding all of tallus's recommendations above.

Don't miss visiting the church when you are in Winchcombe, the gargoyles are just fantastic.

Painswick, your last stop, is a small town but very scenic and you can spend time just wandering around the town. Make sure to walk down by the river too.

As tallus says, a quick bus ride or taxi takes you down to Stroud which is a bit gritty but is really an important Lefty town in the UK. Extinction Rebellion was founded here and its a Green Party hub. Star Anise Cafe serves a great breakfast and is a town hub in many ways - Dale Vince was usually there having breakfast at the same time as us.

I was a regular at Yellow Lighted Bookshop. In Stroud, R&R is a really good used bookstore.

If you are not tired of walking by that point, our favorite walks in the area included wandering around Rodborough/Minchinhampton Common and eating ice cream or wandering into Woodchester Park until you reach the old spooky mansion.
posted by vacapinta at 12:22 AM on March 7

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