I love finding “half way points” to meet friends for a hike and a catch-up, it’s an excellent way to spend a Saturday and probably the best way, in my opinion, to explore and area and have a natter. Just as I did with Sarah in Shropshire (read about it here), I met up with another great friend Allysse, but this time in North Nibley on the edge of the Cotswolds.
We chose a 10-mile hike from North Nibley courtesy of Allysse’s copy of Beyond Bristol: 24 Country Walks by Robin Tetlow walking book. Books of walks like these are brilliant in that they provide readymade routes for when you’d rather not do your own research, with descriptive text as well as OS Map snippets to help you along the way. If you get a good one you will also find information about what you are seeing, too. I’ve put some suggestions over in the books section of my Amazon storefront, if you’re interested. But anyway, I digress.
Our walk started at the church in North Nibley, and took in three Cotswolds Hills – Stinchcombe, Coombe and Nibley. You may remember I visited this area during my GetOutside Challenge, and said at the time that I wanted to come back and explore without the time pressures that weekend had, and this was an excellent opportunity for that. The areas is very beautiful and easily accessible from the M5 or by train – I met Allysse at the Cam and Dursley train station and drove us the 10 minutes down the road to North Nibley for our hike.
After fussing over a couple of cats in the village for a while, we headed across farmland and meadow, across a couple of country roads, and up to Stinchcombe Hill. The ascent was not insignificant, but equally not a terribly strenuous climb to the top of the hill – it was pretty easy going at our preferred slow pace. Stinchcombe Hill itself is designated a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest. The view from Drakestone Point and the trig pillar atop the hill are over towards the Severn Vale and Forest of Dean. It is spoilt a little by the M5 which cuts the landscape in half, but there is beauty in our need for good roads, I’m sure. I’m told that a lot of work has taken place up on the hill to ensure the views are maintained, and I for one am very grateful for that. On our chosen Saturday it was somewhat misty and drizzly – and very windy – but even with that the views were excellent. We could easily make out the Tyndale Monument to the south, which would later mark the technical end of the hike. It’s always a pleasure to meet and chat with locals and other walkers when out and about, especially when they can offer tips for the local terrain and seem pleased to see others enjoy their local patch.
We wandered all the way around the edge of the hill, which is also a golf course, eventually turning down a lane and into some beautiful woodland towards Woodmancote. I do love a woodland path, even at this time of year when it’s primarily leaves turning to mulch and bare branches. Eventually we ended up making our way down a very steep leaf covered muddy path called Breakheart Hill and to a country lane by a pub on a country lane. We made this our lunchtime stop; not in the pub, but rather on a tractor tyre in the middle of the country lane where we enjoyed our sandwiches and flask of tea in the drizzle.
After lunch we headed along the country lane for a short while before picking up footpath once again and heading through woodland and across farm land, ultimately climbing up onto Coombe Hill. I was a little wary of what might be around each bend as there was a sign suggesting we should expect cows with young calves, but thankfully not this time. We followed the line of the hill with excellent views of Coombe and Holywell in the valley below, eventually picking up the Cotswold Way once again and heading back north.
From there it was a reasonably flat wander through more ancient woodland, passed a fort and some knolls, up to the 360 degree view of the Tyndale Monument above North Nibley. This monument was built in 1866 in memory of William Tyndale, who was said to be born nearby; he is famous because he translated the New Testament into English in 1525 before being martyred 13 years later in Belgium. The monument was open (apparently it always is, you just need to try the door…), so naturally we had to climb the 121 narrow spiral staircase steps to the top to see the views from as high as we could get – and it was totally worth the effort even in the cold wind. The views were very special, and we could easily make out Stinchcombe Hill from earlier in the day, and plenty of other familiar landmarks all around.
We weren’t far from the car now, we could easily see it from Nibley Knoll, and so we took the easy to follow but steep path down from the hill to the village. After ten miles, these two very happy hikers could have done with some tea and cake, but we failed to find a café or tearoom in the village or in Cam, so we went our separate ways and took our muddy boots home.
That’s another fair chunk of the Cotswold Way done (although not all this route follows the National Trail); I’m definitely going to get organised and do it in its entirety soon.
What’s the mid-point between where you live and where I live? Where should I hike next?!
A note on affiliate links… If you purchase something via my Amazon storefront or another affiliate link you find on this page, I receive a (very small) commission as a thank you from them. It doesn’t cost you any more than it would have done if you’d googled it and clicked on a link there. Thank you for supporting my adventures.