In celebration of Clare's 100th edition of Ramblings, this series is devoted to exploring the iconic walks of the United Kingdom.
The Cotswold Way
20 April 2007
This week Clare is in Gloucestershire walking a section of the Cotswold Way between Coaley Peak and Dursley.
The Cotswold Way crosses every kind of terrain - it cuts through woods, meanders through towns and villages, runs along the valleys and goes high along escarpments. In total, it's just over 100 miles of quintessentially English countryside running from the City of Bath in the south to the market town of Chipping Campden in the North. Clare walks a section which takes her from the site of an ancient burial ground - a long barrow - to a traditional old pub which serves local Gloucestershire beer.
Joining Clare this week are Veronica "Ronnie" Harding, a keen rambler, and Anthony Burton, an author to a guide on the trail. Ronnie and Tony are very different walkers. Ronnie loves walking in a group and is a member of several rambling clubs, while Tony claims to be a solitary walker, but they both love the Cotwold Way.
Along its length are a significant number of historic sites such as the Roman heritage at Bath, the Neolithic burial chamber at Belas Knap, Sudeley Castle near Winchcombe, Hailes Abbey and many beautiful churches and historic houses.
The two take Clare on a section running from Coaley Peak to the village of Dursley. Along the way, they examine the effects of quarrying on the landscape, come across a pair of buzzards and puzzle over the origins of the long barrows, which on excavation contained pig as well as human bones.
Keeping with the pig theme, Clare, Ronnie and Tony finish their walk in "The Old Spot Inn" in Dursley, where they serve beer brewed locally.
The Cotswold Way has existed as a promoted long distance walk for over 30 years. Following many years of lobbying by the Ramblers Association and others, its special qualities have been recognised and in 1998 the government approved its development as a National Trail. It will launch as the newest National Trail in the UK in May.
Map: OS 167 - Thornbury, Dursley and Yate Start: Coaley Peak Car Park Start Grid Ref: SO 793 010 End: Dursley Distance: 4-5 miles Terrain: mixed Suitable for: most walkers but there are some steep hills
Start at Coaley Peak Car Park
Walk to the left of the car park and along the escarpment edge. The trail is clearly marked and will lead down the hill and into woodland.
Continue along the path through the woods. Through the trees it is possible to see Cam Longdown - the hill over which the path continues.
The path will continue over a fairly busy road.
Follow the signs past a farm and along a country road until the signs indicate a path across fields. There are styles and gates along the way.
The top of Cam Longdown is a wide plateau famous for its wild flowers.
There is a panoramic view including Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Avon, and the River Severn.
Continue to follow the signs and drop down into Dursley. The path continues through the town centre and goes directly past The Old Spot Inn.