I am very lucky to live somewhere surrounded by countryside. In fact, I live in a city but it doesn’t feel like it. I’m right on the outskirts and on the border of Gloucester, Stroud and Cheltenham with miles of countryside starting just a few minutes from our home on foot. I’m going to share with you some of this countryside in this blog post from my recent walk from Coopers Hill Nature Reserve to Great Witcombe Roman Villa.
Go back six or seven years and I was a total townie. I grew up in Cheltenham and as soon as I reached adulthood I moved into the town centre where I lived for years. I loved the hustle and bustle and never imagined living anywhere else.
Now things are very different. I love living next to the countryside and ideally we’d love to move a little further into it, away from so many people and to have extra privacy. And even more ideal would be if there was a large sandy beach nearby surrounded by hills and countryside!
But for now I am glad we have some beautiful places to explore on our doorstep and within walking distance. I decided to walk up to Coopers Hill Nature Reserve last week and via some of the Cotswold Way to the Great Witcombe Roman Villa. All in all it was around a three hour trek from my home and all the way back again. In this blog post I’ll share my experience and lots of photos.
Coopers Hill Nature Reserve
Just minutes from my home, I am able to walk up Green Street in Brockworth which is beautiful at the top end. It gets very steep, but is full of lots of lovely cottages that I dream of living in as I walk past. The views at the top are really amazing and look over Brockworth and more of Gloucester:
Green Street continues across a busy country road and this is where the steepest parts are! It’s definitely a great workout! Once you reach a crossroad of country lanes then simply take a left to walk along some more horizontal road for a while to admire the views until reaching a wooden sign that will direct you to Cotswold Way. Next to the car park is a gate and the entrance to Coopers Hill Nature Reserve.
“Coopers Hill Local Nature Reserve is an area of ancient beech woodland… The reserve is an internationally important wildlife area… It is an outstanding example of Atlantic Beech woodland and has a wide diversity of woodland plants and animals… It supports a rich woodland flora including bluebell, early purple orchid, sanicle, wood spurge and bird’s nest orchid.” Source: Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust
The cheese rolling hill
Next up is a walk up the famous cheese rolling hill aka Coopers Hill. If you’re not local then you may have seen this on the news. On the last bank holiday of May, each year, there’s a crazy event known as the cheese rolling. A huge wheel of cheese is rolled down the hill in various races such as for men and for women and they chase down the hill to try and catch the cheese and be the first to the bottom.
The only problem being the hill is practically vertical! Racers pretty much tumble down and often break bones in the process! They are quite crazy!
Here’s an article if you’re interested to learn more about this world famous event: What is the Coopers Hill Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire?
Anyway, the reason I mention it as it’s the next part of my walk! The steepest part ever! I found myself having to walk backwards for part of this hill climb so as I used different muscles in my legs!!
Once at the top of Coopers Hill, the view is amazing. It was so peaceful that I sat there for a while before continuing. I tried to get photos of the steepness of the hill, but you just can’t tell how steep it is in the photos:
Getting lost in the woods
I’d not done this walk before. I’ve been to the top of the hill, but then returned. I’ve also been to the ruins of the Roman villa several times, but always returned directly home. This was the first time I decided to try and walk from the hill to the villa and on my own. I knew I’d get lost!
I probably spent one hour navigating my way through the woods and taking several wrong turns. There are lots of signposts for Cotswold Way, but none for the villa until you’re practically already there. I bet it should have only taken me 20 minutes to reach it, but I kept taking the wrong paths and getting more in a muddle.
Luckily I had my phone with me and resorted to a satellite map to find the villa and make sure I was heading in the right direction. Doing this I was able to find my way really easily. It could definitely be signposted a bit better!
The woods are beautiful though so it’s not a bad thing to get lost in them! They were full of so many bluebells and wildlife. I lost count of how many squirrels I saw.
As for people, I passed one man and I was also startled by two horse riders! I was dreadfully lost at this point and returning up a path which I knew was the wrong way when I heard this massive crunching scrambling sound and two horses galloped at me out of nowhere! It was two horse riders galloping down the track quite fast!
Aside from those three, I didn’t see anyone else for the whole three hour walk – bliss!
Great Witcombe Roman Villa
I was so pleased when I came out of the woods into the open luscious green rolling hills that are the setting of the Great Witcombe Roman Villa. It’s such a picturesque spot that we’ve visited so many times with the children. It sends their imaginations wild as they pretend it’s their castle or mansion!
It’s never busy and often people just pass through to the woods to walk their dogs or join the Cotswold Way, so it’s an ideal spot for a peaceful picnic. I stopped and ate my packed lunch perched on the ancient villa walls.
“The remains of this large and luxurious Roman villa lie in a peaceful setting near the Cotswold Way. Once at the heart of a large country estate, the villa was built about AD 250, and lived in until the 5th century. The remains include a bathhouse complex and perhaps the shrine of a water spirit. Mosaic pavements (preserved within a modern building) hint at the villa’s opulence in Roman times.” Source: English Heritage
If you love exploring woods, hills and escaping to nature then definitely check out this part of Cotswold Way if you’re ever near Brockworth or Witcombe in Gloucestershire 🙂
Thanks for reading my UK family travel blog.