For this walk we used: Pathfinder Guides – The Cotswolds (Published 2009) Walk 24: Cleeve Common. Distance: 9 miles.
With wonderful views from Cleeve Common, and the fascinating prehistoric burial chamber of Belas Knap a Neolithic long barrow, this is a particularly scenic, varied and interesting walk. We are eager to do this walk again, perhaps squeezing in a visit to Juri’s tea room in Winchcombe next time.
We weren’t sure how to get to the Stockwell Common parking area, so we parked alongside the main road to Cleeve Hill which is the B4632 between Prestbury and Winchcombe. The walk didn’t start well as we thought we were meant to turn left over the first stile, when in fact it was straight on. I felt a bit of a fool being lost before we’d even begun, stumbling around on the golf course. I asked a golfer if she could point us in the direction of “The Ring Settlement” a prehistoric circular enclosure, which she kindly did, and then with our first landmark we were on our way. Somehow we missed the toposcope and triangulation pillar, and no doubt the “superb views across the vale” – better luck next time!
The walk includes Belas Knap which is an impressive burial chamber. This ancient monument was built around 2500BC, it has four separate chambers and is 178 feet long.
We continued walking towards Winchcombe, before heading back in a loop towards the starting point. Having crossed the stile which re-admits you to Cleeve Common, we were confused as to which way to go. There was no black and white marker post with “Cotswold Way” written on it, and no line of posts up the hillside. I didn’t have my compass with me, so we had to guess which direction to go in. It sounds easy enough but there were five possible tracks, and it was fairly difficult to get your bearings right. Anyway, we did have to roll underneath an electric fence, but soon found ourselves back at the golf course club house from where we made our way back to the car.
Apparently, at the beginning of 2009 the Cotswold Way route was altered. This explains the confusion. We weren’t the only walkers looking baffled! I believe the route now goes around the golf course, taking the right hand track towards Postlip Hall, which probably makes more sense. Although it’s a shame for the walker as some of the spectacular views of Winchcombe are lost.
The guide book definitely needs revising and updating, but overall we absolutely loved this walk.