Hiking Cleeve Hill of Cotswold Way in Cheltenham

Coltswold Way Cleeve Hill Cheltenham The Thought Card
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I am utterly obsessed with the English countryside. Back in July, I spent a week in England and despite the unraveling Brexit situation, I had a wonderful time across the pond. I spent most of my time exploring South West England including cities and towns like Cheltenham and Bath including a hike to Cleeve Hill. I also spent a day exploring Northamptonshire in the East Midlands.

The first time I spotted the English countryside was during a bus ride from London to Cheltenham. A friend had just moved to England and invited me to spend a week exploring Gloucestershire. I welcomed the opportunity to see more of England and after spending only one day in London, we boarded a bus headed to the South West. For the next two hours, we drove past rolling green and yellow hills, and small picturesque villages tucked in the countryside. The rest of England looked completely different from London and I loved that. When we finally arrived in Cheltenham, I was already head over heels in love.

Throughout my trip, I took advantage of the good weather and spent a lot of time outdoors. In addition to canoeing River Nene in Northamptonshire, I also hiked some of the Cotswold Way. The Cotswold Way is one of the fifteen National Trails of England and Wales, and it spans 100 miles. This trail starts at Chipping Campden in the north and ends at the Georgian city of Bath in the south. The Cotswolds is home to lots of quaint villages and smaller market towns. It’s also a great place to access North Leigh Roman Villa, an ancient Roman ruin that includes bath suites and mosaic floors.

Check out this informative Cotswold guide and discover things to do, where to stay and the best villages to visit along the way.

 Super cloudy day but it didn’t rain! Follow the Public Footpath. 

Although I didn’t have enough time to hike the entire 100-mile trail (trust me I would if I could), I did, however, hike the Cotswold Way Circular Walk which started at Cleeve Hill. Only 15 minutes away from Cheltenham, Cleeve Hill is a 6-mile route, perfect for a half-day outdoor adventure. I completed the circular route in about four hours and only needed a pair of sneakers, my GoPro, a map, a bottle of water and a sweatshirt

National Trails marked with an acorn.

After parking the car in the free parking lot behind the golf course, I followed the Cotswold Way signposts and started my hike.

Although at times I found it hard to navigate the grasslands, following the signposts and occasionally referencing my map kept me on track. I also wasn’t shy about asking the friendly locals for help when I got lost.


Views from Cleeve Hill in Cheltenham

One of the most strenuous parts of the hike was getting to the first plateau. The terrain was steep but I made it to the peak with moderate effort.

Past the hills, I could see the entire town of Cheltenham along the horizon. Since Cleeve Hill is the highest point of Cotswold Way, I also had clear views of Brockhampton (a small village east of Cheltenham) and Wales!

Despite spending a lot of time admiring the views, I also spent an equal amount of time watching my feet. One careless move meant stepping in a mushy pile of dung. Although I didn’t get to see any sheep, I did, however, spot grazing cows and lots of friendly dogs.

There were also plenty of benches along the route perfect for resting. The benches offered the best views from Cleeve Hill and yes…I made sure to stop at every bench. Even on a cloudy day, the views were worth it.

Most benches were wet but who cares when the views look this good.


Cleeve Hill Hiking Mishaps

No outdoor adventure would be complete without a mishap, right?

About an hour into the hike, I must have gotten too close to a poisonous plant because my hands started to sting and burn. Within a few minutes, white blotches started to appear on my hands and I started to freak out.

Of course in a state of panic, I ran to Twitter. I frantically tweeted about my condition and a few friends mentioned that this was nothing to fret over. I had a case of “stinging nettles”. The cure was finding dock leaves nearby.

Since this wasn’t life-threatening, I decided to push past the pain and wait it out. By the end of the hike, I was pain-free.


Restoring the Mud-Capped Wall Project

On a more positive note, another highlight from hiking Cotswold Way was the mud-capped walls. These walls are part of a restorative project to conserve critically endangered moss.

Before cars, dung and mud were used to strengthen walls. This organic combination hosted different types of moss species, but by the 1950s, most mud-capped walls were out of use in England. As a result, many of the moss species either became endangered or extinct. The Mud-Capped Wall project at Cotswold Way tests the effects of the combinations of horse, sheep and cattle dung and determines the best habitat for these rare mosses.

Heading back to the parking lot, I took one last look at the rutted trackways and hilly grasslands and knew that hiking Cleeve Hill was a highlight of my trip to England. Although I was sad to leave, I knew that I’d be back soon.


Hiking Cleeve Hill Resources

Cleeve Hill Circular Walk Map

7 Wonders of the Cotswolds – Cleeve Hill

A Weekend in Cheltenham

28 replies
  1. Kevin says:

    I love it in The Cotswolds as well. We lived there for a year, then returned to the States for seven years. Always swore I’d return. We moved back last year permanently, and now live right in the heart of it. So nice, I’d recommend it to anyone! I’ve been writing a blog about it for a little while (as a hobby, not for profit).

  2. Samantha | There She Goes Again says:

    Yesss! Based only on focusing my undergrad degree in teaching English Romantics, I’m dying to rent a car and spent months roaming the countryside! This hike would probably wipe me out, but be so worth it for those views. And yes for twitter knowing what to do about those nettles! I’d be such a baby about it!

  3. Wandering JM says:

    I also love to explore the country sides of the world rather than the cities with much crowd. I am fascinated with boring places offering astounding sceneries. Your journey looks really stunning and it makes me relax.

    • The Thought Card says:

      As much as I love city escapes, I have to say that the countryside revives me like no other! Fresh air and beautiful scenery it gets no better!

  4. Megan Indoe says:

    I think I would have went for the 6 mile hike instead of the 100 miles as well! Although, that sounds like a great adventure to do the entire 100 miles! What a beautiful place, the photos you took are great! Can’t believe twitter came to the rescue though! Nettles hurt so bad, I touched them once as a child!

  5. Sarah from Tales From a Fork says:

    I checked out your canoeing post the other day, and now I see this. Makes me want to go to the English countryside although before I never thought about it. #travelinspiration!!

  6. Traveling Bytes says:

    What a beautiful views even on a cloudy day! Your post made me laugh, though: Yay, good old Twitter to the rescue in the middle of the hike. Meanwhile, I am struggling with the internet connection at the place I am staying in Australia. Oops, it seems like I chose a wrong continent ;)

  7. TalesOfABackpacker says:

    Yey! I’m so happy when I see blog posts talking about England outside of London!! It’s great to see more people making the trip outside the capital, there really is so much to see in England, and we’re tiny so it’s all pretty close together! :)

  8. Travel Pockets says:

    O wow! I would have freaked out if I started developing blotches! I’m surprised that you had enough reception to ask your friends on twitter for help :) Every time I go hiking, I tend to lose reception!

  9. Ivy says:

    I’ve yet to visit the English countryside but I’ve heard great things about it. It always looks so and Cleeve Hill seems to be no exception! Glad you’re okay from the poisonous plant- did you ever find out what plant it was from?

  10. Carmen's Luxury Travel says:

    I’m definitely adding Cleeve Hill and the Cotswold to my list! I just love the English countryside. Lovely post, thanks for sharing :)

  11. Vyjay Rao says:

    I share your love for the English Countryside. But for me it is a case of “unrequited love”, as I have never been to England :) I would love to get there some day and hike to my heart’s content and see all the lovely places that you write about.

  12. RunawayBrit says:

    Oh, the Cotswolds *sigh*. I spent five years in Cheltenham as a student, so this is all my old stomping ground. The Rising Sun pub on Cleeve was one of our favourite hang-outs for Sunday lunch :-)

  13. Megan Claire says:

    Sorry to hear about the stinging nettles!! They’re the worst :( I once went to the bathroom in the woods and didn’t realize they were everywhere lol so you can imagine the rest! I would love to explore the Cotswolds myself one day … the views look incredible … 100 mile walk probably not but the circuit walk would be my speed :)

  14. Anisa Alhilali says:

    The Cotswolds is high up on my list, so glad to hear you enjoyed it so much (except for the little mishap). I have heard about nettles but luckily have not experienced it.

  15. Amanda Williams says:

    Wow, I would love to do the circular walk. Even though I live in the UK, I have not really explored the Cotswolds properly and it does look absolutely stunning!


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