Our trip today is to Cleeve Common on which sits Cleeve Hill which is the highest point in Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds. It is a spot we have not previously visited but I have seen details of it in walking magazines and in posts by folk I follow on social media. It is about twenty miles to the west of where we are staying at Pebbly Hill Nurseries.
The starting point for our walk is a car park (Grid Ref: SO989271) located on the edge of the common very near to the clubhouse of Cleeve Hill Golf Club. Boots on we head the short distance back towards the clubhouse.
There is a network of paths across the access land of Cleeve Common, but we decide to stay with the way-marked Cotswold Way as it heads south.
The route takes us past disused quarries, these provided the famous Cotswold Stone used in local house building.
It is a cracking day and there are extensive views as we continue along the way-marked path.
The Cotswold Way leads us to an Ordnance Survey trig pillar at The Ring on Cleeve Common. I had initially thought that this must be the highest point but soon realise that nearby Cleeve Hill is a few metres higher. This is my 249th trig and the first I can recall having a way-marker attached to it.
We continue on the route of the Cotswold Way as it crosses part of the golf course. Playing golf on the common dates back to 1891 when the Cheltenham Golf Club was formed, over the years it has changed its name a few times and is now known as Cleeve Hill Golf Club.
Its future was in doubt recently when Tewkesbury Borough Council, the owners of the common, announced they would not renew the license for Cleeve Common Trust to operate a golf course. However, in January it was announced that agreement had been reached for a new company to operate the golf course. This has to be good news, it would be a pity to lose such an old course.
Our route across the common continues to follow the Cotswold Way with distant transmitter masts as our point of reference.
Soon we get a good view across Cheltenham Racecourse on the edge of the town below us. It is many years since we have been to the races. When Lynnie and I lived close to Kempton Park and Sandown Park racecourses we occasionally spent an afternoon at the races, but that was forty years ago.
At the point where the Cotswold Way veers to the right to descend the hill we continue straight on along the top of the common with the path heading towards the transmitter masts on Cleeve Hill.
After passing the masts we soon reach the Ordnance Survey Cleeve Hill Trig Pillar, this is my 250th trig bagged and it is fitting that at 1,080 feet above sea level it is the highest point in Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds .
We stay close to the boundary fence and continue in a south easterly direction over the access land towards a car parking area on West Down. After going through the car park we join a minor road heading south. This passes entrances to farms and we ignore a minor road on the left. After a mile and a half and beyond Nash Barn we take a footpath on the left that heads east towards Sevenhampton.
The path descends to reach a minor road which we cross and continue downhill on a lane leading to the church of St Andrew. This church was built in the 12th and 13th centuries with the tower added in the 15th century.
We venture inside the church where strangely an old trowel on a plaque is on the wall. Apparently it was found in the stonework of the west wall during restoration work in 1893 and is thought to be medieval.
Leaving the church we turn left and head downhill on Church Lane. When the tarmac ends we continue on a footpath that crosses a stream and then on reaching a minor road we turn left along a country lane heading towards Brockhampton. We reach the village at a grass triangle with a post box and continue straight on towards the Memorial Hall.
This hall was donated to the village by Col. Fairfax Rhodes in 1902 in memory of his son John who was killed in the Boar War. Rhodes lived at Brockhampton Hall and in 1909 he had the foresight to build a cottage alongside the Memorial Hall for the hall caretaker. The cottage is now let to provide an income which supports the upkeep of the hall.
We carry on along the lane and just after the last house there is a water fountain in the wall with the inscription “Those occupying houses built prior to 1935 are welcome to use this water supply for domestic cooking and drinking purposes only during the pleasure of the owner of Brockhampton Park or his representatives”
Almost immediatly after the water fountain the road bends sharply to the right, here we carry straight on along a footpath which goes through a metal kissing gate and continues north through fields.
On reaching a minor road we turn left and continue along this lane ignoring a junction to the right. At a crossroads we go straight over to join a dead end lane. This takes us to a cottage besides a gate where the path continues along an estate road.
The path is clearly way-marked as it continues along the track passing through trees heading towards Westwood House.
After passing the house the route starts to head west and ascends towards the derelict farmhouse and farm building at Wontley Farm. This farm was built in 1824 but has been derelict since 1964. It is a pity to see old buildings falling into total disrepair and the structure now looks a bit fragile with significant cracks in the walls so we decide not to venture too close.
At the farm we have reached a crossing of footpaths, we turn right and follow a track for about a quarter of a mile to reach a footpath on the left, we follow this path as it heads across a field towards woodland. We are now on the route of the Cotswold Way and we follow this as it descends through Breakheart Plantation.
We follow the way-marked route through the trees and besides a cottage and then turn left still on the Cotswold Way to descend through another plantation to cross a stream at a footbridge.
We then go through a metal gate and continue uphill on the path besides the edge of a field and then goes through a gate to join a track, as we near farm buildings we take a permitted path to the left, this avoids taking the footpath through the farmyard and rejoins the track on the far side of the buildings. Now we are on a tarmac lane with Postlip Hall soon in view in front of us.
The main parts of Postlip Hall were built in the 17th century with some bits going back further. The building underwent major renovations in 1878/79. In 1969 the house was purchased by a group of people wishing to set up a community living project and has operated under these principles ever since.
As we near the Hall we take a footpath on the left to stay with the Cotswold Way, which now follows a boundary wall.
After passing some farm buildings we reach a junction of paths, we go right still on the Cotswold Way to go through gates and continue by the wall as it passes paddocks. After going through another gate we enter the edge of Cleeve Common and follow the path uphill.
We pass some small disused quarries and then go through a gate to join a track which leads to another gate onto another section of the Common.
This track leads us back to our start point at the quarry car park. Our walk has been just over 12 miles and we have been fortunate with the weather. It stayed dry all the way round until we reached the car park at which point it started to rain just as we were taking our boots off.
To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer OL 45 – The Cotswolds
25th May 2021
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2021)
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