Cotswold Way Circular Walk - Haresfield Hill, Cliff Wood and Haresfield Beacon

Statistics and Files
Start: Haresfield Hill Distance: 3.9 miles (6.3 km) Climbing: 218 metres
Grid Ref: SO832085 Time: 2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Haresfield Beacon
Statistics
Start: Haresfield Hill Distance: 3.9 miles (6.3 km)
Grid Ref: SO832085 Time: 2 hours
Climbing: 218 metres Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

Summary: A wonderful short walk, the first part through delightful woodland and the second part on the wide open expanse of Haresfield Hill which provides tremendous views in all directions.


The Walk:

Information Board at Haresfield car parkInformation Board at Haresfield car park
The path through Halliday's WoodThe path through Halliday's Wood

One of the consistent factors when walking on the Cotswold Hills is you're not far from a tremendous viewpoint. The nature of the Cotswolds is such that viewpoints appear all along the spine of the hills. The spine of the Cotswolds runs south west to north east. The northern and western edges of the Cotswolds are marked by steep escarpments down to the Severn valley and the Warwickshire Avon. This escarpment or scarp feature, sometimes called the Cotswold Edge, is a result of the tilted uplifting of the limestone layer which gives the ascendancy for the remarkable views. I have walked to many of the outlook points including Shenberrow Hill, Cleeve Hill, Ravensgate Hill, Hartley Hill (with Devil's Chimney), Crickley Hill, Cooper's Hill (cheese rolling mecca) and many more. The Cotswold Hills are remarkable and Haresfield Hill has one of the superb viewpoints.

Tree roots undercut in Cliff WoodTree roots undercut in Cliff Wood
Toward the end of Cliff Wood near Ringhill FarmToward the end of Cliff Wood near Ringhill Farm

The first stage of the walk does not provide a wide ranging view at all but instead it provides an interesting exploration of typical English woodland. There are two woods to negotiate before stepping out into the wide open spaces, Halliday's Wood and Cliff Wood. Ash and Beech are the predominant broad leaved species with Oak, Sycamore and Maple also common species. There are conifer sections interspersed too with a plantation on the lower south facing slopes of Cliff Wood. I meandered through the woods in fascination at the sunlight glinting through the wood canopy. In some places open spaces appeared where trees have been prohibited to take root. In others, erosion was undermining roots. In high winds such affected trees will be the first to fall. That will be their misfortune and a shame.

C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft over Haresfield HillC-17 Globemaster transport aircraft over Haresfield Hill
The wide open expanse of Haresfield HillThe wide open expanse of Haresfield Hill

As I walked to the end of the woodland walk and as I neared Haresfield Beacon I heard a low humming sound which was growing in volume. Only one explanation for that type of noise, a low flying aircraft and knowing the drone to be that of a transporter rather than a jet I paced out to look up and see the transporter passing directly by just to the north. After the air show I diverted my attention back to the level and my spirits were uplifted by the mass of green, white and blue I could see. Green dominated the lower level of my picture, lovely short grass and masses of darker green tree tops all around. White was dispersing from the sky, burning away in sky which was becoming dominated by blue. It was a fantastic moment.

Approaching the panoramic viewpoint on Haresfield HillApproaching the panoramic viewpoint on Haresfield Hill

I walked around Haresfield Hill for ages. I walked in all directions with no attention to detail. The map route and GPS downloads show a true route, they do not reflect what I did for I zigzagged about everywhere which took my fancy and lots did. I walked to solitary trees on the hill to pay them respect. I walked to clumps of higher grass and flowers to see what was going on. Bees droned about in a lethargic manner, buzzing from flower to flower but not with any haste. They day was warming up and they enjoyed it as much as I did, no haste necessary. The views on the edge of Haresfield Hill were brilliant. On the first part I could see north and east. I could always see west. As I walked round the edge of the hill the views east were blocked out but they were replaced by excellent views south. I could see the whole of the Severn Estuary. I could see the City of Gloucester. I could see the Forest of Dean. Heat haze made distance views impossible but I knew as I looked out the Welsh Mountains were in my eye line too.

Walkers enjoying their day on Haresfield HillWalkers enjoying their day on Haresfield Hill
Another interesting wood to exploreAnother interesting wood to explore

As I looked out from the escarpment of Haresfield Hill I noticed I was receiving company. The car park had been empty when I had arrived for the walk and I did not meet a soul in the woods, nor as I emerged into the open on the northern side of the hill. But now as I stood at the viewpoint on the south side people joined me and I saw more as I turned to walk away and back to the start of the walk. Couples walked past me and other walkers passed to my close and distant left. They too felt it unnecessary to keep a true path and were wandering across the hill. When I returned to the car park it had half filled and more were arriving. I had come early and made my superb walk of Haresfield Hill and finished before the crowds arrived. I had time for another walk. Now that looks another interesting wood to explore....

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