For this walk we used: Leckhampton Walk – Gloucestershire County Council. Map available from Crickley Hill visitor centre. Distance: 9 miles.
The walk takes you through some wonderful Cotswold countryside, including farmland, pretty Beech woodlands, a limestone valley, and commons with stunning views over Cheltenham and the Severn Vale. It also includes the village of Coberley which was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
We began the walk from Barrow Wake car park. The view over the Severn Vale from here is considered to be one of the finest in the Cotswolds, and on a clear day you can see the Brecon Beacons in Wales almost 60 miles away. It is the site of a 2000 year old Iron Age burial site, first discovered in 1879. In hindsight, it would have been better to pay to park at Crickley Hill near the visitor centre, as when we returned to the car park in the early evening there were some dodgy goings-on in the bushes 😮 It’s probably best to walk this part of the route earlier on in the day.
It is also advisable to avoid crossing the A417 near the Air Balloon pub at peak traffic times. We had great difficulty as it was incredibly busy! We have this to look forward to again in September as it is part of the Cotswold Way. I need to pack a traffic ‘stop’ sign!
Otherwise, it is a beautiful, interesting and very rewarding walk. It was a really hot day and as we are trying to get used to carrying heavier backpacks, we included 3 litres of water each to bulk up the weight. I was glad we did as we finished every last drop!
I was born in Cheltenham and lived there for 16 years, but I had no idea that the surrounding countryside was so pretty. One of the highlights for me, was visiting ‘The Devil’s Chimney’ on Leckhampton Hill. I went there as a young child, and remember being terrified that we might actually see the devil. This time I was able to appreciate the beauty of the place and the incredible views without the fear of seeing the man in the red suit.
After Leckhampton Hill, I was getting tired with the heat, and as a result made a map reading error near Salterley Grange. Instead of continuing along the Cotswold Way, I led us along the footpath back towards Hartley Bottom. By the time I realised, I’d added another 1/2 mile to the walk.
We rested for a while on a fallen pine tree in the shade of the trees near the Cotswold Hills Golf course, and shared a snack bar to replenish some much needed energy.
As the day went on it seemed to get even hotter, so we took it slowly past the National Star College, and along Greenway Lane. It was a welcome relief when we finally reached the trees along the Cotswold escarpment.
Then there was “that embarrassing moment, when…” we were trekking uphill through the woodland, thinking we looked really rather professional with our backpacks, hiking boots and smart new walking poles. We were swiftly over taken by a rather well rounded and elderly lady wearing pink Crocs. We laughed at ourselves so much we almost cried.
By the way, I love Crocs, they are so comfy. I wish I could take mine backpacking to wear around camp, but they are too bulky to carry so I’ll have to make do with flip flops.
The walk was slightly let down by the dubious evening activities at Barrow Wake car park, and the unnerving road crossing near the Air Balloon pub. However, we still enjoyed it overall with it’s stunning and varied scenery.
Our Rating: 4/5