Following the Cotswold Way from the small town of Winchombe through Hailes and it's ruined abbey, past Breckbury Camp and down into the villages of Wood Stanton, Stanway and Stanton. A climb up and over Shenberrow hill brings you into the bustling town of Broadway.
Today's walk is a lengthy but gentle ramble, with the climbing spread out through a long day of idyllic villages, vivid history and country pubs. From sleepy Winchcombe, you wander along bridleways, tracks and open fields to Hailes. The abbey in Hailes is a holy place, and a small pilgrimage from Winchcombe to Hailes was a popular journey. Passing a small medieval church you climb through a thick forest over the hill fort of Beckbury Camp which sits above Cromwell's seat, where Thomas Cromwell sat and watched the sacking and looting of Hailes Abbey during the dissolution. As the path descends again, you pass through a series of postcard-perfect villages made of golden Cotswold Stone before a final climb up the hill and an easy descent into Broadway. It is famed for its many traditional British pubs, providing excellent food, a fire as warm as the welcome and a very well stocked bar.
If you see a nice spot to stop for lunch, do take advantage of it. Although the villages are incredibly beautiful, they do not have very good facilities or space for enjoying your packed lunch.
There are some road crossings, always be aware of traffic and be sure to use a pavement/sidewalk where possible, where it isn’t walk on the right-hand side of the road,
Some of the ground can be uneven, with steep descents and muddy/boggy ground. Ensure you have suitable footwear and step cautiously where needed, the mud is especially tricky in wet weather.
A note about farms and animals: Be very aware of closing gates behind you. Remember, animals on a farm are not pets and can be closer to a wild animal than a domestic pet - particularly for dogs. There are many horses you will meet on today's walk, avoid them where you can but remain calm and do not startle them.
When crossing the streams, be wary of slippery and loose stones, if you feel unsure bring walking poles for support, and you can always find a more suitable crossing a little up or downstream.
Sturdy waterproof boots as the path can be slippery and wet in parts.
Walking poles for stream crossing and muddy descents if the weather is wet.
Points of interest
Founded in 1246 by the Earl of Cornwall, Hailes Abbey is set amid delightful Cotswold countryside. Once the centre of monastic life, the tranquil ruins are now the perfect place to relax and enjoy a picnic in a unique historic setting. Visit the new museum to discover the treasures of Hailes, uncovering stories of the monks who lived and worshipped at the abbey for nearly three centuries. The museum has incredibly rare fragments of a pair of spectacles of a monk almost 1000 years old.
For more information visit: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/hailes-abbey/
(You can also see route photos for pricing)
Stanway House and Gateway
Stanway House is a Jacobean manor house, located near the village of Stanway in Gloucestershire, England. The manor of Stanway was owned by Tewkesbury Abbey for 800 years then for 500 years by the Tracy family and their descendants, the Earls of Wemyss and March. The gateway itself is one of the most stunning in the world, tall and imposing it is not to be missed.
The house also has the tallest fountain in Britain, the tallest gravity fountain in the world which reaches 91 metres, an astonishing 300 feet!
The house is sometimes open to the public, for up to date opening times and more information visit: http://www.stanwayfountain.co.uk/
Broadway High Street
The Broadway High Street is characteristically recognisable for the unchanging nature of its honey-coloured period buildings and wide grass verges that have gone on to define a typical Cotswold scene. The village itself is named after the high street, Broad to signify the width and Way meaning street or road. It runs from the upper high street, where you'll find photogenic mansions carved from Cotswold stone, down to the commercial section of the village where the road widens and ends at the village Green. For the wave of visitors and tourists that arrive each year, it's this part of the high street that is the main attraction with plenty of independent retail shops and cafés in close proximity to delight a complete range of individual tastes.
Food and Drink
There are a few options on today's walk. In Hailes there is the Hailes Abbey Visitors Centre (described above), Hailes Fruit Farm and Cafe ( Open 9am till 5pm - http://www.haylesfruitfarm.co.uk/tea_room/, call to confirm if out of season 01 242 60 21 23).
In Stanton there is the excellent Mount Inn (https://www.themountinn.co.uk/about-the-mount-inn) which serves food, Check the website for opening times.