Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Minchinhampton Common

Minchinhampton market square

In Gloucester for the day, I decided to fit in a walk on the way home and hit upon this one at Minchinhampton near Stroud, a charming and unspoilt place. The town is set on a plateau at around 200m above sea level. The views in all directions from the common are very impressive, although today was too hazy to fully appreciate them.

The walk begins in Minchinhampton's pretty market square with the Market House, built in 1698 on one side.

From the market square you walk past the Church of Holy Trinity. The unusual spire is a result of the original spire being pulled down for safety reasons in 1863.

From here you quickly reach the eastern extremity of the extensive common, an area called the Park. The walk then broadly follows the southern edge of the common. For a good part of the way the route follows the line of Iron Age defences known as The Bulwarks.

You then head north across the golf course, which shares part of the common, towards the hamlet of Amperley and from here turn east towards Burleigh. In Burleigh you take a delightful lane which has splendid views over Brimscombe and the Golden Valley (of the River Frome) to eventually reach Besbury Common, with even better views.

Finally, you turn south to rejoin the Park and return to the market square. It was by now nearly dusk, but the Park was a fine sight as the sun went down.

Officially 4.5 miles, this ended up nearer five as at some point I failed to follow the correct line across the grassy plain and ended up making a considerable detour.

From: Cotswold Walks, Jarrold Pathfinder Guides.

Map: Explorer 168 (Stroud, Tetbury and Malmesbury).

Rating: four stars.

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