Sunday, 17 October 2010

Cleeve Hill to Seven Springs (Cotswold Way 5)

View from Cleeve Hill towards Cheltenham Race Course

Time to continue our assault on the Cotswold Way with Merv and Pud. We picked up the route at Cleeve Hill near the golf club and walked south along the edge of the escarpment. The morning was still misty down in the valley, but from up here the views were magnificent towards Cheltenham Race Course.
Further on, there were also fine views back towards Bishop's Cleeve, with the Malvern Hills in the background.

Carrying on we came to the site of an iron age fort.

We were rather surprised to find one of the golf course greens was actually within the confines of the fort. It looked like quite a difficult hole to play and provoked a few puns about the meaning of the iron age (successor to the wood age, ha ha).

Soon we left the grassy plateau to follow a series of tracks (still at around 310m above sea level) past Bill Smyllie's Nature Reserve to begin the long descent towards Dowdeswell Reservoir at 106m. We were now in pleasant woodland, with Lineover Wood in view ahead.

We crossed the A40 near the Reservoir pub and entered Lineover Wood, immediately beginning a steep climb, with fine views to the east through the odd gap in the trees.

You emerge into a grassy open area near the top where a bench offers a fine spot to enjoy the view toward Cheltenham. The hideous 1968 Eagle Star building is all too visible to the left of the bench.

Some of us were showing signs of tiring by now, and Merv's repeated reassurances that we were "nearly at the top" fell on increasingly deaf ears. It was the opposite of crying wolf - crying lamb maybe - and had the same effect on his credibility.

After a short level section it became apparent that one further - really quite stiff - climb diagonally across the side of a hill awaited. But again at the top - of Wistley Hill - there was a magnificent view northwards. The dip on the horizon at the left indicates the Cleeve Hill plateau where we started walking.

From, here the route left the edge of the escarpment and went across fields and then beside the A436 to the lay by at Seven Springs where today's stage ended.

Conditions: bright and sunny, about 12 degrees, but feeling cold in the shade.

Map: Explorer 179 (Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud).

Distance: about 9 miles.

Rating: four stars.

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