For this walk we used: the Laurie Lee walk leaflet (available online, or at the Woolpack Inn, Slad) and OS Explorer 179. The Laurie Lee Wildlife Way. Distance: 6 miles.
This circular walk around the wildlife-rich Slad Valley, links the work of Gloucestershire’s most famous 20th century writer with the landscape that inspired him. He loved this valley where he was born, and lived for much of his life. The walk takes in four of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s beautiful nature reserves, and includes 10 ‘poetry posts’ featuring carefully selected poems by Laurie Lee.
The walk starts at Bull’s Cross on the B4070 near Slad, where there is a large lay-by with plenty of parking.
We began walking in the direction of the first arrow, leaving the road and entering Longridge Wood. We paused to look at a pond, its surface dimpled with gently splashing raindrops. A couple of walkers approached, and stood with us for a while to admire the peaceful scene. I asked if they were also walking the Laurie Lee Way, which they were. We waited until they continued before moving on, following them up a steep bank through the woodland. Half the way up, another track crossed our path, and they seemed uncertain which way to go. I glanced at my OS map and assured them that it was straight on. Reaching the top we emerged through a gap in the dry stone wall, and admired the view below. I could see the couple making their way across the wildflower meadow.
We entered Snows Farm nature reserve where Buzzards called overhead in a magical hidden valley. After winding our way over a stream, and crossing fields to Catswood, we joined a broad forest track. The way markers often disappeared from here on, but we found our way out on to Knapp Lane. Having turned off into Trantershill Plantation, or ‘Laurie Lee Wood’, we sat down to eat some lunch on the edge of the pathway. Had we carried on for a few minutes, we would have found a comfy wooden bench, where someone had turned the base of a tree into a fairy dwelling. It was complete with a miniature table, a ladder, wicker baskets and a washing line. It really captured our imagination.
From the top of Swift’s Hill there were lovely views across the Slad valley to Stroud, on a clear day you can see as far as Wales. After passing Knapp Farm, the route became familiar. Having crossed meadows, and an old apple orchard, we eventually made our way downhill to Steanbridge Mill. From here is was a steep climb uphill into Frith Wood, a wonderful ancient Beech wood. Before long the track levelled out, and it was easy walking from then on back to the starting point.
This walk provides a wonderful insight into this stunningly beautiful area of the Cotswolds. We loved it.
Our Rating: 5/5