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Nestled in the heart of the stunning Cotswolds, the town of Winchcombe is an ideal base for your hiking adventures. Walks around Winchcombe take you along pretty rivers, onto verdant rolling hills and to sites of historical intrigue. Some of England’s finest quintessential countryside awaits.
There are so many options when it comes to hikes around Winchcombe. Half-a-dozen long distance trails pass through the village, including the gorgeous 102 mile (164 km) Cotswold Way and the scenic Gloucestershire Way. In fact, Winchcombe is such a mecca for walking that the town hosts a popular walking festival every May.
Take in the archetypal honey-hued limestone brickwork of the Cotswolds in the surrounding villages, some of the prettiest in the country. Get closer to nature, as you stroll along the tranquil banks of the charming River Isbourne. Meanwhile, vast panoramas unfold high on the Cotswold scarp, as you hike in the company of a diverse array of wildlife.
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The Cotswolds are rightly famous for their uniquely idyllic towns and villages and the rural magnificence of the gently undulating hills. Walks around Winchcombe explore the very centre of this wonderful part of Britain. From the gothic shadow of the parish church of St Peters, which is well-known for its gargoyles, there are many walks of great interest.
A variety of routes fan out from the town, taking the intrepid to castles boasting award-winning gardens, historic remains and charming villages. The Neolithic burial ground of Belas Knap is a popular excursion. Situated below the crest of a prominent ridge, it rewards with sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Meanwhile, nearby villages exhibit the limestone brickwork and thatched roofs of Tudor manor houses built on the wealth of the wool trade.
The ancient Anglo-Saxon town is situated perfectly for an excursion onto the highest area of upland in Gloucestershire, Cleeve Common. Some of the best hiking trails around Winchcombe culminate on Cleeve Hill, the highest point in the Cotswolds at 1,083 feet (330 m).
From the town centre, trails follow the peaceful River Isbourne to the eastern flanks of the common. From here it is not far to the trig point on the summit. The viewpoint to the north offers a stupendous vista down to Cheltenham and Gloucester and beyond to the Malvern Hills, the Bristol Channel and the distant Welsh Black Mountains.
There is a myriad of wildlife to enjoy during hikes around Winchcombe. Cleeve Common is a haven for plants, insects, birds, reptiles and mammals, which thrive on the unique limestone grassland. The common’s thin, nutrient-starved topsoil leads to a great diversity of plant life, as individual species struggle to claim a monopoly. There are several varieties of orchid found here as well as other wildflowers.
Elsewhere in the surrounding countryside, rabbits inhabit the fields and meadows in abundance, whilst adders often sun themselves on exposed rocks. Roe deer are less brazen, often hiding from any hint of human activity. Nevertheless, the lighter-footed hiker might stand a chance of catching a glimpse.
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