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This breathtaking walk leads you over open hilltops, across streams and through woodlands, immersing you in one of the country’s most fascinating and precious habitats – limestone grassland. Over half of this wildflower and butterfly rich natural resource is within the Cotswolds and some of the finest examples are on Cleeve Common. The unsurpassed views along this route therefore, are the perfect backdrop for getting even closer to the outstanding natural beauty of the Cotswold Way.
- Distance: 6 miles (Shorter route 4 miles)
- Duration: 3½ – 4½ hrs (Shorter: 2 - 3 hrs)
- Difficulty: Moderate, no stiles but some steep sections (Shorter: Easy, no stiles and mostly level)
- Parking: drive up narrow lane signed to golf club and cross a cattlegrid, turn left then right into old quarry car park
- Public transport: accessible by bus from Traveline: Cheltenham and Winchcombe, ask for golf course junction
- Refreshments: Cotswold Way Cafe at Cleeve Hill Golf Club
Points of Interest:
- Cleeve Common is the largest common in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with an area of over 400 hectares. It is also the highest point on the Cotswolds at 330m. Cleeve Common is famous for wonderful views over Cheltenham, the Vale of Evesham, the Malverns and as far as the Black Mountains in Wales and the Shropshire hills.
- 'The Twins' are two wind-swept beech trees on the southern end of the Common, overlooking Cheltenham and Gloucester. Whatever the weather, this is a spectacular spot.
- 'The Single Beech' also know as the lone, or lonely beech, is the highest tree in the Cotswolds also at 317m. There is a fine 360 degree view from here and you can really appreciate the open aspects of this hilltop landscape. The Memorial Wall surrounds the tree, with plaques in memory of those who have been particularly fond of Cleeve Common.
- Prestbury Hill Butterfly Reserve - the southern half of the reserve, known as the Bill Smyllie Reserve, extends southwards as a narrow valley containing thickets of scrub. It is separated by a beech plantation from the northern half of the reserve, known as the Masts Field, which is within the Cleeve Common Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).