News from the Trail
The A417/A419 provides an important route between Gloucester and Swindon that helps connect the Midlands/North to the South of England. It’s an alternative to the M5/M4 route via Bristol. The Missing Link itself is a three-mile stretch of single-lane carriageway on the A417 between the Brockworth bypass and Cowley roundabout in Gloucestershire.
In November 2022, Transport Minister Huw Merriman MP approved the major road upgrade to the A417 Missing Link scheme between Gloucester and Swindon. As part of these works the existing A417 between the Air Balloon roundabout and the Cowley roundabout would be repurposed. National Highways will convert some lengths of this existing road that the Cotswold Way passes across into a route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, while retaining other sections to maintain local access for residents.
There’s lots of work that needs to be done before construction begins in autumn 2023.
If you’re in the area, you will start to see some local public rights of ways being diverted and people out on site undertaking archaeological digs and installing environmental mitigation such as animal fencing and bat boxes to protect local wildlife. Later in the year, you will also start seeing people setting up construction site offices and protecting nearby utilities so they are not impacted by the build.
Below are artist impressions of the new Cotswold Way bridge spanning the A417
The Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project in the Cotswolds National Landscape aims to reduce the visual impact of National Grid’s overhead line running over the Cotswold Plateau and along Cotswold Way.
If approved, the exciting proposals will see around 7 kilometres of overhead electricity line and approximately 18 pylons replaced with cables buried underground from Postlip Mill near Winchcombe to the edge of the Cotswold Plateau north of Dowdeswell Wood.
We are saddened to report two recent thefts of Cotswold Way signage, which causes an inconvenience to people enjoying what is a well signed route, and also extra expense as we need to replace these.
Please if you see anyone vandalising posts alert the police – phone 101, and email us with details firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the Cotswold Way Association website to purchase Way Markers for a small fee online.
As you can see from the photos below the footpath between Kingcombe Lane to Dovers Hill has undergone a lot of work recently to improve access, including a new radar kissing gate. It may look a bit orange at the moment but that will soon fade and blend into the surroundings.
The Cotswold Way Association and Cotswolds landscape artist Guy Warner have come together to offer a 2023 calendar featuring a seasonal selection of Guy Warners paintings from the last few years.
The calendar includes landscape paintings Guy has painted around the Cotswolds and 50% of profits go to Cotswold Way Association and 50% to Guy.
For more information please visit Guy Warner’s website.
West Country fossil-hunters Neville and Sally Hollingworth (celebratedfor their Woolly Mamoth fossil finds in the Cotswold Water Park) found the fish head in a grassy bank behind a cow shed in the village of Kings Stanley. The find at the Court Farm site in Kings Stanley also included more fish, squids and even the bones of two ichthyosaurs, hugely successful marine reptiles that looked a bit like a large dolphin, so the whole food chain.
More information on the find can be found on the BBC website
Dogs are one of our best-loved companions and going on walks in nature with our four-legged friends is a pleasure that millions of us enjoy each year. This Summer Cotswolds National Landscapes, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the National Trust team up to bring you the canine code.
“Just over a quarter of households in the UK are now dog owners, and with over 10 million dogs roaming the country it’s more important than ever to be as conscientious and considerate as we can.” says Emma Settle, GWT’s Land Management Advisor.
To showcase how to strike a balance between getting out and about with your dog and giving wildlife and wild places space, a short film has been produced in partnership with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and The National Trust.
The film was shot at Crickley Hill, which boasts far-reaching views, an abundance of wildlife and a place of historic importance that is very popular place for dog walkers to get out in nature.
We are delighted to announce that Rebecca Jones, Cotswold National Landscape’s Volunteer and Access Lead, is among those who have been awarded a Member of Order of the British Empire (MBE) in The Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022. Rebecca (Becky) has been recognised for her services to volunteering and the environment.
Every June, on Her Majesty’s official birthday, a list of Birthday Honours is published – showing people who have been awarded for their extraordinary contributions and service across the UK. This year’s publication of the list happened just as the celebrations for Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend began.
For over 20 years, Becky has been working with the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens to oversee conservation and access matters rights across the Cotswolds. She has remained steadfast in her commitment to the volunteer wardens across the Cotswolds throughout many organisational shifts and changes. She has seen the volunteer cohort grow to over 400 voluntary wardens today. Becky had no predecessor for her role, so has been instrumental in helping the wardens establish themselves as a ‘self-managing’ organisation working closely with the Cotswolds National Landscape team. She has implemented training for all elements of the voluntary wardens’ work, implemented record keeping, and forged a partnership working ethic which sees wardens working with Public Rights of Way (PRoW) teams to coordinate work on footpaths and bridleways.
The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens lead over 300 guided walks every year, and Becky has ensured that all walk leaders are fully trained in health and safety matters, map and compass reading, and emergency first aid. Attending a walk with the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens means people are in safe hands indeed.
Becky also observed that many of the volunteer wardens had existing skill sets which could be developed – and used this as the foundation to offer wardens more technical training – in dry stone walling, woodland coppicing, hedgelaying, and brushcutter and chainsaw use. Encouraging wardens to gain or maintain qualifications in these areas has equipped them perfectly with the skills and experience they need to help conserve and enhance the Cotswolds landscape.
Becky’s work encompasses so much more. She has championed young people for many years, by single-handedly initiating the education ‘branch’ of the voluntary warden body. Becky has always acknowledged that future conservation work will only be done if we inspire children and young people today about the importance and value of the Cotswolds landscape.
Bringing a personal touch to her work has been a constant theme throughout Becky’s career – she attends all the quarterly ‘district’ meetings the wardens hold annually – across all five districts. She checks in with wardens when they are unwell, and ensures those requiring any special arrangements have their needs met. She attends the funerals of wardens who have sadly passed away.
Becky, with no blueprint for how to harness the energy of these 400+ men and women, has shaped this group of volunteers into award winners. Today, the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens are known locally, nationally and internationally for their commitment, independent work, and for the scale of their activities. Their achievements were officially recognised by the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2018.
Andy Parsons, Chief Executive of the Cotswolds National Landscape said, “We couldn’t be more happy for Becky, or more proud of her. As a team, we work very closely – and so we see every day how hard Becky works, how dedicated she is, and how much extra she puts in. Seeing her awarded with an MBE is absolutely brilliant – she truly deserves it. Congratulations Becky!”
Becky Jones, MBE, Volunteer and Access Lead at Cotswolds National Landscape said, “I still can’t quite believe it. I’ve worked with the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens for many years, and many now feel like friends as well as colleagues – I feel very lucky to work with such an enthusiastic and active group of volunteers.”
Margaret Reid, Head Warden of the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens said, “Becky’s personal touch means that every warden knows her. We can all testify to her hard work and to her devotion to the work she does. It has been a pleasure to nominate her for such a prestigious award, and to see her honoured in this way.”
The Cotswold Way Association has just published the long-awaited The Cotswold Way Companion: an insider guide. There are both eBook and paperback editions.
This book is about the Cotswold Way – perhaps the best loved of the UK’s sixteen designated national trails. It’s just 102 miles (162 kms) long and doesn’t rise much above 330 metres. Yet it’s full of beauty and interest, following a dramatic limestone escarpment linking the Georgian city of Bath in the south to the medieval market town of Chipping Campden in the north. The countryside it passes through is quintessential English and dotted with small towns, villages and monuments with fascinating histories.
The book will help you to get the most out of walking the Cotswold Way. It’s special for two reasons: it focuses on the Cotswold Way’s natural environment and its archaeology and history; and it’s the work of people with great knowledge and experience of the trail: members of the Cotswold Way Association (CWA), the charity set up in 2016 to promote its conservation and protection, and Cotswold Voluntary Wardens who patrol the trail and lead walks on it.
Proceeds from the Cotswold Companion, which is available as an eBook and paperback, will go towards the trail’s upkeep and improvement. Buy both and you will get one year’s membership of the Cotswold Way Association to help keep making a difference.
To purchase visit the Cotswold Way Association online shop.
Audio Guides – a series of Audio Guides based on The Companion’s ten stage chapters.
Each guide is just under 4,000 words in total and, like the book’s chapters, broken down into bite-sized sections taking just a few minutes to listen to. To confirm the excellent sound quality, to hear the final section of the Stage 10 guide on Chipping Campden listen to an audio sample here. For more information visit the Cotswold Way Association website.
Our amazing team of Cotswolds Voluntary Wardens are constantly out working hard to keep the Cotswold Way and other footpaths around the Cotswolds National Landscape accessible.
Coopers Hill is among one of the many areas they have recently been busy repairing and improving sections of the trail, and what a difference they have made.
Photos taken before repair work:
And what the path looks like now:
“This new aerial archaeology mapping tool lets people fly virtually over England and drink in its many layers of history. It will allow everyone to explore the hidden heritage of their local places and what makes them special. We hope it will give people a springboard to further investigation, whether for research purposes or simply to satisfy curiosity about what archaeological features they may have noticed around their local area” Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive, Historic England
At the beginning of October 2021 Historic England announced that, for the first time, it was making freely available online the results of over 30 years of aerial photograph mapping projects involving over 500,000 aerial photographs.
Here are details of the reports covering the Cotswolds/Cotswold Way:
For more information and reports across the UK visit the Historic England website.
Look out for the new plaques and information board at Hanging Hill commemorating the Battle of Lansdown. This has been one the many jobs our Voluntary Wardens have been undertaking along the length of the Cotswold Way and surrounding walks.
More information about the Battle of Lansdown can be found in the English Heritage Battlefield Report: Lansdown 1643.
Earlier this year Broadway Tower underwent interior restoration taking the building back to the days of its Georgian design and furnishings. As part of this project the Will family have introduced a new audio and multi-media guide allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the fascinating story of Broadway Tower.
Now the exterior project is underway. Vital work is taking place to preserve and protect the distinctive features of Broadway Tower for many years to come.
Scaffold has been erected for this work to be carried out safely. Whilst shrouding the exterior of the tower, this will be an opportunity for visitors to witness conservation work live with skilled Cotswold Craftsmen using ancient skills and materials.
The Tower remains open during these works. For more information visit the Broadway Tower website.
A celebratory relay walk of the 102 mile Cotswold Way route began in Bath on Saturday 11th September, with the first team walking from Bath to Cold Ashton. Their 10 mile walk coincided neatly with the start of the Bathscape Walking Festival 2021.
The relay, organised by Margaret Reid, Head Voluntary Warden, and Becky Jones, Access and Volunteer Lead at the Cotswolds National Landscape (CNL), will see a baton being passed along the entire length of the Cotswold Way between relay teams made up of CNL team members, Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, Ramblers, and volunteer walking teams from local businesses Robert Welch Designs and John Lewis in Cheltenham.
Each day of the week will see a new team taking the baton, designed and made by Robert Welch, and walking a section of the route. The aim of the relay walk is to celebrate everything the Cotswold Way has to offer: spectacular views, quintessentially Cotswold towns and villages, and an unforgettable walking experience. More than that though, it is to raise awareness of what it takes to look after a national trail like the Cotswold Way: the time, effort and funds spent taking care of pathways, stiles, gates, and access. Much of the maintenance work along the route is completed by volunteers, but few of the tens of thousands of walkers who enjoy the route each year fully understand how much work goes on behind the scenes. From scrub clearing, to way marking, to mending and installing access points, the work on the Cotswold Way continues all year round.
John Bartram, Chair of the Cotswold Way Association, commented, “The Cotswold Way has delighted walkers for 50 years, and what better time to celebrate it and to ensure that there are sufficient funds to keep it in first class condition.”
Becky Jones, Volunteer and Access Lead at Cotswolds National Landscape, said, “The success of the trail over the last 50 years has been down to the volunteers: from the Ramblers who created the route, to the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens who have given their time, skills, and enthusiasm to maintaining and improving it to make it such an important feature of the Cotswolds landscape for everyone to enjoy.”
And there is more to do – with a greater emphasis than ever before on working to make traditional walking routes more accessible to disabled ramblers, funds are needed now to continue to adapt appropriate sections of the route so that a greater range of audiences can enjoy and explore what it has to offer.
The relay teams will conclude their efforts on Sunday 19th September with a final leg from Broadway to the start/end marker stone for the Cotswold Way in Chipping Campden. And after that? Very likely a huge quantity of well-deserved tea and cake! Members of the public are encouraged to look at ramblers.org.uk/gloucestershire and Cotswoldsaonb.org.uk websites to find guided walks featuring sections of the Cotswold Way to experience the route for themselves. To contribute funds to the Cotswold Way Association, please visit cotswoldwayassociation.org.uk/fundraising/
For more information about the Cotswold Way Association, please visit https://cotswoldwayassociation.org.uk/
Winchcombe Walkers are Welcome are pleased to announce a new water bottle filler in Winchcombe. Situated on the Cotswold Way, outside Vale and Hills butchers in Winchcombe High Street. The fountain has been delayed by the lockdown restrictions but with brilliant support from local businesses Vale and Hills, Forgeability and Gary Wills Gas Services the water is now flowing. Funding for the project came from Winchcombe Walkers are Welcome and Winchcombe Country Show. Regular cleaning will be provided by Toby’s staff at Vale and Hills butchers.
1st July 2021 saw the completion of the restoration of a 400m+ section of the dry stone wall that runs parallel with the Cotswold Way at Hanging Hill (GR: ST 71243 70161).
Cotswolds National Landscape’s team of Voluntary Wardens from Avon Valley District have been working on this project for about 3 years putting in over 6000 hours of work. Before they started the wall was overgrown for much of its length and inaccessible to walkers. So, the Wardens cleared the field side of the wall, and the farmer cleared the other side of the wall allowing the walling team access.
The result is that now walkers along the Cotswold Way have fantastic views out over the escarpment towards Bristol, the Severn Estuary and the Black Mountains in the far distance.
Capturing the moment for the National press was Russell Sach so keep an eye out for photos hopefully in Cotswold Life and who knows the Times!
A significant undertaking that could not have been achieved without the dedication of our volunteers.
We are pleased to report that the popular public footpath across the River Frome in Ebley, near Stroud, which had been badly damaged by flooding last year, has now been repaired and is reopen, and the diversion for the Cotswold Way has been removed.
Ebley bridge along the Cotswold Way, now repaired after major flood damage. Photo (c) Ian Soule, Gloucestershire PROW
In May 1970, the Ramblers and Cotswold Wardens celebrated their marking of the long distance path from Chipping Campden to Bath. It was hoped that we could recreate these celebrations in May, working in partnership with Robert Welch, whose Chipping Campden shop is celebrating its’ 50th anniversary, John Lewis, and the Ramblers Association. Sadly due to the current crisis these have been postponed until 2021, but this does not stop our online celebrations and we would really welcome any old photos that you may have of the Trail over the last 50 years that capture the essence of the route and the changes that we have seen. Please email them to email@example.com
Access to the countryside will become increasingly important to local people and business’ in the future and there will be plenty of work to be completed along the Trail to make it as accessible as possible, so please consider supporting the 50th Anniversary of the Cotswold Way through the virgin money giving page at www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/cotswayassoc50 to help improve the Cotswold Way for future generations.