Redmarley D'Abitot and the Leadon Valley

A walk from Dick Whittington's birthplace to a tiny gorge and vineyard

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Start: Redmarley D'Abitot Distance: 5.9 miles (9.5 km) Climbing: 226 metres
Grid Ref: SO 75216 31350 Time: 3-4 hours Rating: Moderate
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Redmarley D'Abitot
Start: Redmarley D'Abitot Distance: 5.9 miles (9.5 km)
Climbing: 226 metres Grid Ref: SO 75216 31350
Time: 3-4 hours Rating: Moderate
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

The Walk: Stunning scenery is not the only feature of this walk in deepest Gloucestershire: there is history and legend too, for it is here that London's most famous Lord Mayor, Dick Whittington, was born. Another, more unexpected, local 'product' is the wine of the area, made from grapes grown on the slopes above the River Leadon. As you start the walk, you can see, to the south, May Hill and the uplands of the Forest of Dean. On your return to Redmarley, you will see ahead the most spectacular moorland ridge of the Malvern Hills, built on some of the most ancient rock in southern Britain. The rock of the Redmarley area creates a gentler but still striking landscape. It gives the soil, and many of the buildings, a rich red glow, from which Redmarley derives its name.

Church House and St Bartholomew's ChurchChurch House and St Bartholomew's Church
River LeadonRiver Leadon

St Bartholomew's Church in Redmarley was rebuilt in the 19th century, but it contains many interesting features. In the village there are several timber framed buildings which date from the 1500's. This walk has some steep climbs and descents. From Redmarley you descend into the Leadon valley to Pauntley, walking parallel to the river. Pauntley Court was the home of the Whittington family between 1311 and 1546 and two of the church's windows carry the family coat of arms. The present house, which is closed to the public, mainly dates from the 18th century, but a half timbered wing, for long used as a granary, may have been built by the Whittington's in the 1500's. In the grounds is a square stone dovecote.

From Pauntley is perhaps the highlight of the walk, the stretch of walking along the River Leadon near Durbridge Farm, where the river cuts through the sandstone hills to create a little known but remarkably beautiful small gorge, with hanging woods and old farm buildings. Much of the shaping of this area happened during the ice age which ended about 20,000 years ago. Tongues of ice from the Welsh mountains blocked many of the existing river valleys to create large lakes from which the water found new routes out to sea, the largest of which is the Ironbridge Gorge on the River Severn below Shrewsbury. Immediately after the ice age, the flood of melt water caused many rivers to cut much deeper channels on their existing courses. the detailed history of the area at this time is still unclear, but traces of ice erosion remain in both the wide, smooth sided valleys, which may be former courses of the river, and the main valley of the Leadon.

The combination of the bending river, the hanging woods and the vivid red sandstone creates some spectacular scenery. Coming down a side valley you pass between woods containing oak, beech and holly, and a lake fringed with bullrushes, and in summer covered in waterlilies. A section along the slow flowing Leadon brings you to Durbridge Farm, where there is a fine view of the gorge, with the river flowing between rows of trees. Durbridge Mill, a sanctuary of old buildings, is another fine sight. Soon after leaving Leadon Gorge the walk passes Three Choirs Vineyards where some of England's finest wines are produced. Afterwards enjoy quiet countryside walking back to Redmarley.

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

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