Mickleton, Hidcote Boyce, Hidcote Manor and Kiftsgate Court

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Start: Mickleton Distance: 3.7 miles (5.9 km) Climbing: 126 metres
Grid Ref: SP 16158 43482 Time: 2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Mickleton
Start: Mickleton Distance: 3.7 miles (5.9 km)
Climbing: 126 metres Grid Ref: SP 16158 43482
Time: 2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

The Walk: This walk through a designated area of outstanding natural beauty takes in several typical Cotswold villages. Here there are lovely cottages of butter hued limestone - often capped with dipping thatch or traditional stone slates diminishing in size towards the top pitch. In summer, roses seem to cling to the houses and many old-fashioned, perennial flowers bloom in the gardens.

Countryside view to MickletonCountryside view to Mickleton (Wikipedia)
Topiary birds at Hidcote GardensTopiary birds at Hidcote Gardens (Wikipedia)

The route climbs to about 600 feet (183 metres) and gives wide views over the Avon vale towards the rounded Bredon Hill and the Malvern Hills in the distance. The lovely village of Mickleton - with its thatched timber-framed cottages - is centered around a Victorian memorial fountain. And nearby, the church of St Lawrence dates from Saxon times, although the spire was added in 1352.

The woods of Baker Hill are mixed coppice and beech. In the past coppiced trees were cut periodically quite near the ground to provide branches for sheep hurdles. These upland beechwoods are very colourful in the autumn. Hidcote Boyce is a hamlet of a few cottages, many built at right angles to the road so the frontage was small and the garden long in the days when these were homes of farmers and their families.

Hidcote Manor has one of the most delightful gardens in England. It was the home of the great horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston. He spent almost 40 years converting ten acres of grassland on a high inhospitable site into magnificent gardens, now renowned for their rare shrubs, trees and herbaceous borders. Hidcote was gifted to the National Trust in 1948. About 400 metres along a lane from Hidcote is another garden open to the public. The hillside garden of Kiftsgate Court was built at the end of the nineteenth century. The gardens contain many fine specimens of colourful and unusual trees and shrubs.

The alkaline soil of the Cotswolds has always provided ideal grassland for sheep farming - an important source of wealth since Roman times. During World War Two it was discovered that the land could also produce good arable crops. Common flowers found in the area include orchids, cowslips, thyme, primroses, rock roses and vetches. In springtime bluebells are prolific in lower woodlands and butterflies love the meadow grasses. And constantly heard but rarely seen are skylarks.

Acknowledgments: Text derived from the Out and Out Series; Discovering the Countryside on Foot. Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia.

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