Cotswold Way - Wandering to Winchcombe
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The stunning 102-mile Cotswold Way national trail runs from Bath to Chipping Campden, through the UK's largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This day walk takes in a glorious section between Cheltenham and Winchcombe with a return trip by heritage railway.
The first section of the walk gives a taste of things to come - surprisingly long hills! Climbing away from the racecourse towards Cleeve Common at the top of the escarpment, we'll enjoy great views back down to Cheltenham, across the Severn valley to Gloucester and up to the Malverns to the north west. In part thanks to the nature reserve here there's usually plenty of wildlife to enjoy too (if we're quiet enough).
Further on the route passes Belas Knap, a Neolithic long barrow consisting of four burial chambers. More than 30 skeletons weren't found at the site. Little is known about life here around 3600 BC but it's clear that there was organised, civilised settlement in the area long before the chocolate box cottages of Escape to the Country fame.
As the path starts the descent there'll be glimpses of the magnificent Sudeley Castle, originally built in the 14th century, before we arrive at the picturesque village of Winchcombe with its variety of characterful buildings. After a short look around we'll walk the last mile to the station to catch the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (diesel service) back to our start point. Remember this is a linear walk and you'll need the train fare for the return (currently £8).
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What to bring
We'll be walking on muddy paths and across fields, so sturdy walking boots are recommended. Please also bring a waterproof jacket. Take a look at the guidance below for more info:
Water: bring at least two litres
Medicines: if you have hay fever, diabetes, minor ailments etc.
Day rucksack: typically 20-30 litres, they are comfortable to wear and allow you to use your arms freely
Boots: waterproof and breathable and designed for hiking, trainers are OK if the ground is dry and there’s little chance of rain
Gaiters: recommended for wet weather or boggy conditions
Socks: proper walking socks will keep your feet dry and help prevent blisters
Layered clothing: lets you quickly adapt to changes in the weather and body temperature. Go for a base layer (vest or t-shirt) and a mid layer (a micro fleece or shirt) and in cooler weather add an outer layer (a windproof jacket or thick fleece)
Trousers: ideally no jeans as they become heavy and cold in the rain, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry and on warm days shorts are OK
Waterproof jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry
Gloves: Windproof, or better still, waterproof gloves are the best choice, bring a spare pair if expecting rain
Hat or cap: stay warm in winter and shaded in summer
Sunglasses: for any sunny day, even in winter
Sun cream: can be useful even on cloudy and winter days
Snacks: bring biscuits, energy bars, gels, bananas, chocolate or dried fruit for example and put them somewhere easy to get hold of
Lunch: bring a packed lunch unless otherwise stated
Food & drink
You'll need to bring a packed lunch and any snacks you need to keep you going for the day as well as plenty to drink. There are no shops on the route.