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This walk guides you around one of the most beautiful and varied stretches of the Cotswold Way. From rich grassland to peaceful woodlands, from Iron-Age remains to Victorian quarries, this route offers up a taste of the entire Cotswold landscape in 4½ sheltered and windswept miles.
- Distance: 4½ miles
- Duration: 2½ – 3 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate, no stiles but some steep sections
- Parking: Lay-by opposite Seven Springs pub. Alternative start points are from car parks indicated on the map in the PDF
- Public transport: No. 51 bus Traveline: Cheltenham, Cirencester and Swindon, ask for Seven Springs stop
- Refreshments: Hungry Horse (Severn Springs Pub); Green Dragon Inn (Cockleford - 2 min drive)
Points of Interest:
- Severn Springs - From the layby look for a series of steps leading down amongst the trees, and following this you get down to the place where you can see the severn springs, which are said to be one of the sources of the River Thames. Look for the stone which reads "Hic Tuus O Tamesine Pater. Septemceminus Fons" (Here, O Father Thames, is your sevenfold Spring).
- Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common (Nature Reserve) - The hill supports a wealth of wildlife including small mammals - foxes, stoats, badgers and rabbits - and reptiles. Butterfly species include the Duke of Burgundy, Dark Green Fritillary, and Pearl Bordered Fritillary and there is extensive birdlife - buzzards, kestrels and kites are regularly seen. The hill is also home to a great array of wild flowers including many varieties of orchid - among others, the Early Purple, Common Spotted, Musk, Butterfly, Fly and Bee orchids. Historical features on the hill include an Iron Age hillfort and long barrow. Old tramways criss-cross the hill from the days of limestone quarrying and the remains of kilns and quarries are still very much in evidence.
- The Devils Chimney - is a limestone rock formation left standing like a single, spindly finger that stands above a disused quarry.
Some believe "the Devils Chimney is the home of the devil who is reputed to reside deep in the ground below. Angered by the many churches in the region, Old Nick would sit on top of Leckhampton Hill and hurl stones at pilgrims on their way to prayer. According to local legend, his wicked ways backfired as the stones hurled themselves back at him burying him into the ground for posterity piling the heavy stones upon each other to ensure he could never escape."