In WalksHistory

View from above Winchcombe
A walk back in time

Getting outdoors gives you a sense of freedom and a close up look at nature. Mix this with some history and you have a good recipe for a walk. So today it’s an uphill walk to Belas Knap to give the legs a nice stretch and breathe in some fresh air. 

Sometimes it’s good to forget the map reading and follow some clear paths. The Winchcombe Welcomes Walkers website has a variety of walks and this Belas Knap self-guided walk fits the bill.

From Winchcombe I follow the Cotswold Way signs down Vineyard Street before turning right by the lovely oak finger post with a finger blade pointing you in the right direction. Within a few minutes I was in open countryside with fine views to my right of St Peter’s Church.

In the distance lie the wooded hill tops I will summit. So far so good, the path is level and my legs are getting into their stride.  I reach Corndean Lane and turn to follow the Cotswold Way to the entrance of Corndean Hall. The driveway leads you past the town’s cricket ground with numerous stiles to the side to remind you that the occasional six may interrupt your proceedings in the summer.  Another finger blade directs you uphill now and the terrain steepens. Half way up is a good excuse to stop and turn around to admire the view.

Your eyes take in Cleeve Common, the highest point in the Cotswolds before you turn clockwise to view Langley Hill overlooking Winchcombe.  The grey building in the far distance is Toddington Manor, owned by Damien Hurst and covered with scaffolding and sheeting for so long that many locals have never seen the Grade 1 building underneath.

The breathing is getting deeper as I reach the gate at the top of Corndean Lane. Here I leave the Cotswold Way and follow the lane to my right, at the fork in the road I bear left and follow the lane up through the trees to emerge onto the top of the Cotswold Hills, passing the secluded Hill Barn Farm. 

The track reminds me of an old drovers road and before long I meet the Cotswold Way again, which beckons me left to Belas Knap.  It feels a little bleak and I wonder why man wanted to live here as the Neolithic Long Barrow comes into view. It is hard to believe that this burial chamber, dating back 5,000 years, still survives in the current landscape. I cross the stone stiles and continue along the Cotswold Way towards Winchcombe. As the path descends, views of Sudeley Castle and the Cotswold escarpment open out.

A short section of road walking then I am back on a footpath heading past Humblebee Cottages. Apparently, Humblebee was an old name for a Bumblebee. To my left situated in a small copse is a Roman villa, alas on private property and so out of bounds. This downhill section follows hedgerows and across fields heading for the Old Brockhampton Road and into Winchcombe for a pint.

This walk can be downloaded from:




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