Walking in Gloucestershire
The physical geography of Gloucestershire consists of three main features, one of which, the Severn Vale, divides the county on a roughly north east south west line. West of the Vale lies the high ground of the ancient Forest of Dean. To the east, rising dramatically in a beautiful wooded escarpment, are the famous Cotswold Hills. Three very different regions, but each with it's own attractions and unique landscape interests for the walker to enjoy. Forest trails, riverside walks, open rolling hills and picturesque golden villages are all on offer in glorious Gloucestershire.
Much of the Cotswold Hills are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and many of the towns are exceptionally attractive. The elegant Regency Cheltenham Spa and lovely Cirencester with it's rich history as an important Roman and wealthy wool town should not be missed by the visitor; and many great walks can be planned from both towns. In comparison the towns of the Forest of Dean are rather drab, but the woodlands of this ancient Royal Forest provide a superb walking environment, with plenty of interest and a rich wildlife habitat. The area is also relatively quiet, so you may have some of the many trails all to yourself.
The majority of the Cotswold Hills area lies within the county of Gloucestershire. In the east, where the land falls gently away with rolling wolds and river valleys the landscape extends into Warwickshire. The elevation of the Hills rises towards the west, culminating in a spectacular escarpment, where the limestone plateau plunges into the Severn Vale. Stunning views and glorious beechwoods are a treat for the walker following the escarpment along the Cotswold Way. The mellow limestone of the Cotswolds gives the area a unique and distinctive character. Broad open views of fields and woodland alternate with peaceful villages tucked away in hidden valleys and scenes of pasture and water meadow. The area deserves its AONB status.
Sapperton - The River Frome winds its way past this lovely village overlooking the Golden Valley, which stretches from Sapperton to Chalford. Lovers of Cotswold architecture will find much to admire in this small village. St Kenhelm's church, with its Jacobean woodwork and stone monuments is an absolute gem.
Sapperton is perhaps best known for the nearby 2.5 mile long canal tunnel which takes its name. The tunnel, which carried the now derelict Thames and Severn Canal, was regarded as a major feat of engineering when first built in the 18th century. The Daneway Inn close to the village was originally built as a logging house for the miners who dug the tunnel. Later it became a watering hole for the bargees after their strenuous efforts 'legging' boats through the tunnel.
OS Maps: Explorer 168
A Walk from Sapperton [SO 760297]
This walk is fully described in the guidebook 'Pub Walks in the Cotswolds ' by Nigel Vile
Stroud - Stroud, known as the town of the five valleys, was once an important wool town famous for it's cloth and dye trade which developed because of the ample supply of water to power the machinery of the many mills. It is sited at the confluence of five valleys on the river Frome, shortly after the river turns west to cut through the Cotswold escarpment. Stroud also has a famous literary association with the little village of Slad nestled in one of the five valleys. Slad was the home of Laurie Lee, whose evocative autobiography 'Cider with Rosie' brought to life the Stroud Valleys of a bygone age.
The wooded valleys and hills of the Stroud area are very attractive and offer a wealth of fine walking routes with glorious views. Just to the south of the town lies Rodborough Common, 600 acres of National Trust land on hills overlooking the town and offering superb views.
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