My favourite walks - Snowshill
snowshill walk - Cotswold Way Circular
with Ted Barker & Dylan
Distance: Five miles (a figure of eight walk that can be cut in half at “The Crossroads”)
The old fella’s acting strange...keeps talking about the Queen instead of the Queen’s Head, his usual topic of conversation. Yesterday there was a knock at the door and the postman dropped a package on the mat and ran off even before I could chase him down the road (which I think he really enjoys).
Something’s definitely up. The box was full of stripy flags and bunting. I don’t know what’s going on and a confused dog is not a good thing.
This morning it became even more mystifying. “I’m really looking forward to the jubilee,” he said. “I want to make it a day to remember and I’m feeling all English and proud of it!” Then he said: “Let’s go for a proper walk, in the heart of England.” Well, then my ears pricked up of course.
England expects that every dog should do its duty so next day here we were at the impossibly cutesy village of Snowshill, in the Cotswolds, and the old fella’s waxing lyrical about how English it all looks and how ships were built out of oak from these parts and how sheep were at the heart of England’s prosperity...sheep? Well, or course then my ears pricked up!
So off we go, after leaving the car at the free car park at Snowshill Manor, which is off the road from Broadway just outside Snowshill. Going left out of the car park, almost immediately there’s a kissing gate into an open field. It could be a great romp except that there are sheep everywhere...the old fella wasn’t joking about that.
At the far end of the field there’s a strangely fallen tree that is shaped like an arch. Dylan and Ted made a picture sitting under it, with wary sheep watching their every move. To the right of the wooden arch there’s a wooden kissing gate. Go through into the next field and the path heads down into a deep valley with a stream at the bottom. Go over the brook and head up the other side of the valley on a well-trodden track, which takes a sharp right up a muddy stretch at the edge of woods.
Leave the wood and go through a wooden gate, following the track with a fence to your left. Some super views here across some wide open spaces, even though the old fella is obliged to use the lead for the sake of our woolly friends.
At the top of the field the track bears right and goes through a metal kissing gate. There’s a sign saying “Restricted byeway Winchcombe Way”. Follow the bridleway to the right for about Ikm, skirting the edge of a wood. You’ll reach a new, metal kissing gate. Go through and turn to the left across an open field with superb views stretching out ahead as far as Wales.
Head past the two marker posts in the middle of the field to another kissing gate. Go through and bear left, keeping the fence on your right. You are now on the Cotswold Way. Ignore a stile on the right and keep going straight ahead, which is west, according to the old fella, who likes to tell us where we’re going, as if we didn’t know!
Go through a metal gate. The path is marked with an acorn etched into the post. We’re now on Laverton Hill and it does get a bit windy up here sometimes but here are great views all around.
The next bit was something of a headache for the old fella. It’s a crossroads and he spent a good old time scratching his head and looking at his map and muttering while we waited patiently. Finally he made a decision:
“First right,” he said and off we march. A wink from Ted and a wry shake of the head from Dylan...of course we could have told you that all the time! Anyone who wants to do the shorter route can take the first left instead, and get back to the pub that much quicker. But the more adventurous of us are heading off on the path which leaves the Cotswold Way and heads along a track with a railed fence on the right and a barbed wire fence on the left. In 100 metres we go through a metal gate, with a sign saying “Cotswold Way circular”.
We pass some horse jumps on the right and gallops on the left and head downhill along a bridleway towards the village of Stanton. The path opens out into a series of grassy knolls with fantastic views across to Wales. What a great place for a picnic.
Mind you, if you stop here for a snack you might be less inclined to drop in at The Mount Inn, just a few hundred metres ahead in the village, a cracking, traditional pub with outside tables and a sensational view.
Just past the pub, before you enter the picture postcard high street, there’s a sharp left turn by a brook, which is marked, the Cotswold Way. Go past the thatched Little Sheppey House on the right and, directly opposite, the path continues uphill again. This is more like it...we’re heading towards a line of woods on the horizon - very promising!
We follow a farm track and head off right at the waymarker for the Cotswold Way, through a kissing gate into a copse where there’s the sound of running water. Up ahead we spot some small pools - perfect for a quick dip - then uphill again, to another perfect picnic spot in a bowl-like valley with great views, where someone has thoughtfully built some post and rail seats.
Moving on, follow the the Cotswold Way uphill, with the Vale of Evesham laid out behind, through some nice woods, well-stocked with rabbits. Ted spent some time in a gorse bush here, and came out looking smug!
At the top of a pretty steep climb there’s a farmhouse and barns - the Shenbarrow Buildings - and more spectacular views to the left. Go through a kissing gate and follow the farm track all the way back to that confusing crossroads again. Cross the cattle grid and take the first right along a tarmac road,. At around 400 metres look out for a footpath sign on the left which takes you into the National Trust Littleworth Wood. More woods, just what we want.
We come to a fork and bear left along the Cotswold Way Circular, with tall wire fencing on the right. At the edge of the wood cross over a stile into an open field and stretched out below is the village of Snowshill, looking as if it’s been there for ever, which it probably has.
Head across towards the far left corner of the field where there’s a metal kissing gate which opens onto a farm track. Turn right and then after 30 metres turn left at a T-junction. Another 400 metres or so further on you turn left onto the road into Snowshill. Take heart, we’ll soon be in the pub!
The Snowshill Arms, opposite the church, a welcome sight, and the end of a wonderful walk. A pint or two for the old fella and a bowl of water for us, then a short stroll back to the carpark and we’re all ready for a nice kip.