Slow Cotswolds

  • Creating a new cycle route

    Earlier this year I put together a new cycle route that I thoroughly recommend in order to see some of the Cotswolds finest and most secretive valleys and hidden villages. These are not the villages that, in the main, make it onto the tourist trail and, save for the occasional tractor, you will have these lanes to yourself. There are pubs a-plenty en route or, with a short diversion (The Green Dragon Inn for example near Cowley). In total it's approximately 35 miles in length with plenty of hills for free-wheeling down or (as these are nearly all tiny valleys), pounding up. And you will come across some of the prettiest Cotswold villages and hamlets imaginable.

    So to begin, start in the tiny village of Coberley. Head to Cowley (you could stay at the beautiful Cowley Manor) then Brimpsfield. Continue onto Caudle Green, one of the Cotswolds tiniest villages, crossing the River Frome and the beginnings of the Golden Valley in its contorted fashion.

    Next it's onto Bisley where you'll have views of the Toadsmoor Valley and a choice of pubs - though The Bear at Bisley is the nicer of the two. Don't forget to take a look at The Wells, a pagan place of spring water. Then it's off to Far Oakridge, Frith Wood and, once again, you cross the River Frome at Daneway before making for Edgeworth. This is one of the prettiest parts of the route with views to the church and the medieval Edgeworth Manor on the hillside across the valley.

    On to Duntisbourne Abbots, another glorious village, before heading towards Woodmancote. It really is in the middle of nowhere; this is the chance to see the hidden Cotswolds and secret streams and rivers. From Woodmancote, continue to North Cerney, where you can visit the beautiful Cerney House Gardens for an idyllic breather. There's a woodland walk and walled parterres alongside borders brimming with perennials. There'a also the possibility of a stop at the riverside Bathurst Arms beside the River Churn. Continue along the Churn Valley before turning off for Rendcomb - not forgetting to look back for stunning views from whence you came in addition to the views you'll continue to see to the left and right.

    Turn off for Chedworth Laines - a simply beautiful hamlet with a handful of houses before dropping down and following the gentle valley, a tributary of the Coln, through the villages of Chedworth and Lower Chedworth (by far the prettier of the two villages). Here you'll see a much more open valley with hillside properties dotted across the countryside.

    Continue on to Withington (by now you'll be hard-pressed to decide which is the prettiest village you've seen en route), where you can enjoy a drink in the riverside garden at The Mill Inn. After, it's on to Compton Abdale and past Stancombe Wood and Smallhope before passing through Hazleton, a village that's split by a small valley between. Cross the beautiful Salperton Park, with the imposing house looming ever larger as you cycle towards it, before darting left just before the main entrance (it's a private house, not open to the public) and turn right to pass through the village of Salperton. It's a village I'd deem to be one of the top five in the Cotswolds.

    Through Notgrove, a peaceful village where you could stay in a camping pod at Village Farm Holiday Cottages to make the most of the tranquility before cycling through Turkdean and finishing in the historic village of Northleach. There you can discover more about the Cotswolds and its unique landscape at the Cotswolds Discovery Centre, run by the Cotswolds Conservation Board who are responsible for maintaining the character of the AONB. Or enjoy a drink at The Ox House, a very cosy wine merchants with a difference.

    If you want to make a circular route, after Withington head to the A436, take care on the half-mile stretch of this main road, before turning at Cold Comfort. Return to Coberley via Upper Coberley and Cowley.

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