A short, but demanding walk in places. Leaving Winchcombe you gradually ascend to long barrow of Belas Knap. From here a steep descent takes you down to Postlip Hall before a long and steady climb up to Cleeve Common and the eventual summit of Cleeve Hill, before following a path down to the beautiful Ellenborough Park Hotel.
This scenic and historically captivating nine-mile stretch takes youclose to your stately home for the night, Ellenborough Park. Begin the day by exploring the magnificent Sudeley Castle, part of England’shistory for over 1000 years, and final resting place of Katherine Parr,the last of Henry VIII’s six wives. After exploring the beautiful 15th century church in which she is entombed, take a stroll around the wonderful 1,200 acre estate and gardens.
Continue to Belas Knap, a large Neolithic burial chamber and then on to Cleeve Hill, the highest point of the Cotswolds hill range.
The Ellenborough Park Hotel is located just off the Cotswold Way in Southam. Please follow the directions below from Cleeve Hill.
0.00 km - Standing by the triangulation pillar summit marker and with your back to the viewpoint, GO STRAIGHT ON over the golf course following the wooden post markers.(NB;there is a direction arrow on the side of the triangulation pillar to show the way). Follow the edge of the steep escarpment on your right with panoramic views over Cheltenham.
1.20 km – Just through some hill fort ramparts and by a wooden seat TURN LEFT to follow a path between Nutters Wood and Queen's Wood and leading to the road.
2.10 km - Come out from the woods and GO STRAIGHT ON to Bentley Lane. Follow this to reach the B4632 road.
2.60 km - Reach the B4632 and the entrance to Ellenborough Park hotel will be across the road.
Panoramic views are to be seen on several sections of today’s walk but most extensively from the summit of Cleeve Hill. So take time to enjoy them and don’t forget to look back to where you came from. The Neolithic Burial Mound of Belas Knap is one of the finest historical sites on the whole of the Cotswold Way.
The Cotswold Way is well marked so navigation should be easy. Look out for the acorn signs which are the National Trail markers.
Traffic should not be a problem for most of today as the route out of Winchcombe is relatively quiet. However, take care crossing the road to reach Ellenborough Park at the end of your walk. There are a few climbs and one steep descent which might be tricky during or after wet weather. Care is needed particularly if you are tiring.
Good comfortable boots or walking shoes are recommended. The ground can be quite soft and the paths are well used by walkers and riders. Whilst the terrain is not particularly difficult it can be muddy with some waterlogged stretches after heavy rain. Walking poles are an option if preferred. They may be especially useful on some of the day’s descents. The British weather is changeable so waterproofs should also be carried just in case.
Winchcombe is a large Cotswold Town with a full range of facilities. There are a number of shops, small supermarkets, cafes and pubs where you can stock up with food and drink .There is also a Tourist Information Office, a post office and pharmacy in the town. A cash machine is available in the Coop supermarket during opening hours, or an external machine can be found further down North Street at the larger supermarket on the edge of town.
There are no facilities on this walk so make sure to carry what you need. Cleeve Hill Golf Club is open to non members for refreshments but this is near the very end of the walk.
Points of Interest
Although only glimpsed on the walk, Sudeley Castle is easily visited from Winchcombe. The original castle dates from the 12 th century and was confiscated by Edward IV after the War of the Roses. The castle eventually became the property of Henry VIII and on his death, his widow Katherine Parr lived here. She is buried in a lead coffin in the St Mary’s Chapel. There are also the remains of the Elizabethan banqueting hall, a tithe barn and the Portmore tower.
This chambered long barrow is one of the finest historic remains on the Cotswold Way and dates from around 3000 BC. When excavated some 31 burials were found to have taken place here along with some Roman coins and pottery.
This is the highest section of the Cotswold escarpment at 330 m and the last area of unenclosed land in the region. It covers an area of 3 square miles and is an area of Special Scientific Interest for its flora and fauna. There are panoramic views from the plateau and in good conditions the Malvern Hills and the Brecon Beacons may be seen in the distance.