The Cotswolds - Korea Friendship Trail: England's First Twin Trail
The Cotswold Way National Trail has teamed up with South Korea’s Jeju Olle to become one of the world’s first ‘friendship trails’.
Friendship Trail Launch, Stinchcombe Hill, 19th April 2011
This new initiative is a result of last year’s World Trails conference on Jeju Island, attended by the Cotswold Way and hosted by the Jeju Olle trail, a new and breathtakingly beautiful long distance walking route around the coast of the island. One of the many ideas discussed at the conference and earlier in the year when the Cotswold Way played host to representatives of the Jeju Olle Foundation, was the concept of ‘friendship trails’. These are essentially similar to twin towns, whereby trails in different countries team up in the name of partnership, mutual publicity and international alliance. The Cotswolds Korea Friendship Trail is one of the first ‘twin trails’ in the world, and it is hoped that the idea will spread across the globe, promoting understanding and walking, whilst boosting tourism and local economy.
“This is a real opportunity to promote international friendship and cooperation. We are proud to be joining up with Jeju Olle, and hope this special relationship will benefit people, landscapes and conservation in both our countries.” James Blockley, National Trail Officer for the Cotswold Way.
Walking on Jeju Olle
The Korean half of the Friendship Trail was launched at the second World Trails Conference in early November. Following Route 3 of Jeju Olle, it is marked with a wooden fingerpost of the same design as those so familiar along the Cotswold Way. Whilst helping to promote the Cotswolds as the perfect destination for foreign walking holidays, it will stand as a reminder of how walking routes can cross international boundaries.
Friendship Trail Launch, Jeju, November 2011
Jeju Olle is a series of walking routes on Jeju Island, 130km off the southwest coast of Korea. This beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site is almost sub-tropical in climate, its scenery passing from windswept coastline, through countless tangerine groves criss-crossed by distinctive stone walls, and up to the 6,400 foot peak of Hallasan. Work on the trail began in 2006 when a dedicated group of volunteers began seeking out a way of promoting access to the coastline of Jeju, discovering old paths and creating new ones. For more information, visit their English language website here...
A short circular walk following the Cotswold Way around Stinchcombe Hill near Dursley has been signed with special markers, introducing people to one of the most scenic parts of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whilst raising awareness of walking in other countries. There are many similarities between the two routes and it is hoped that teaming up in this way will promote understanding and tourism on both sides.
Friendship Trail Marker Disc
Following the Friendship Trail could not be simpler as it keeps to the Cotswold Way for its entire length. To make it even easier, a special marker disc (see picture) has been added to selected Cotswold Way posts to mark the Friendship Trail and guide you round the route. Click here to download the walk...
Friendship Trail Launch ('Ganse' sign in middle)
The symbol of Jeju Olle, known as ‘Ganse’, takes the form of a Jeju pony and appears on signs for the trail in Korea. The name comes from the old Jeju dialect ‘gansedari’ which translates as ‘slow lazy-bones'. This is no coincidence, as one of the main aims of Jeju Olle is to encourage people to be more like the Jeju ponies and slow down to appreciate the wonderful surroundings of the island at a slower pace.
Whilst you enjoy the mini Jeju Olle around Stinchcombe Hill, spare a few minutes to consider how walking can bring people and landscapes together the world over, and how the experience is essentially the same whether you walk in the Cotswolds or Korea. Above all, let your walk remind you that there is a corner of a foreign field that will remain forever Cotswolds...
Jeju Olle scenic viewpoint
Links and other useful information:
Jeju Olle will introduce you to one of the world's most beautiful and fascinating islands, but there is a wealth of other breathtaking scenery across South Korea waiting to welcome you. Go to the 'Visit Korea Year' or the 'Korea: Be Inspired' websites for further information.
If you are planning to walk the friendship trail you could also consider a few holes at Stinchcombe Hill Golf Club, where you'd receive a warm welcome and enjoy a different way to appreciate the fantastic countryside and scenery. Visit their website here for more information.
After walking round the hill, you may also be interested in the work of the Stinchcombe Hill Trust, a voluntary body set up in 1930 to safeguard the site for public access for walking and enjoyment. It is largely down to this group that we are able to enjoy Stinchcombe Hill as it is today.