"A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare" - William Henry Davies
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This walk offers a stroll through beautiful woodlands together with breathtaking views atop Haresfield Hill. There is a long and short option on offer, but to be honest if you park up at Shortwood Car Park you can step out of the car to enjoy beautiful views without putting the effort in if you are not in the mood. The longer walk is just short of 6 miles long and took me about 2.5 hours and the short walk is 3.5 miles. This walk does come with a warning however: there is no pub or cafe anywhere on this route! What the actual..... We have already started pricing up a coffee van because it doesn't matter what day of the week or time of the day I have driven up there, the car park has been just about full. I am sure you can find a suitable venue on your drive back. The car park is £3.00 or free to National Trust members, but there is also ample off-road parking for free along the road leading to the car park. The walk is steep in places, and in fact a very short section of the longer Haresfield Beacon walk is extremely steep and I would have been grateful for the walking sticks that I scoff at whenever I see them. I managed to stay on 2 feet by slowly edging my way down so hopefully you will be able to manage too.
The nearest postcode I could get for Shortwood car park is GL6 6PP which takes you to the very top where you can park up on the roadside and it's then a short walk to the above triangulation point. Alternatively, if you carry on driving along this road you soon reach the car park itself in which I parked and from where my walk commences.
3.5 mile Walk
1. Walk out of the entrance to the car park and immediately on your right you will see a footpath sign to Randwick, Maiden Hill and Doverow Hill pointing along a lane that runs along the edge of the wood. Follow this. You should soon see Alpaca in the field on your right.
2. At the end of his lane is a stile leading to a tarmac lane. Hop over and bear left.
3. This lane joins a busy road. Go slightly left, cross the road to face Stoneridge Farm . Be careful this is a very busy road.
4. You should see a lane to the right of the farm. Follow this path which leads down and away from the road.
5. At the end of the lane another stile leading into a field. Climb over and walk down the undulating field keeping rightish. Lovely views.
6. At the very bottom of the centre of the field there is a gap between hedges after which you should see two footpath arrows, 1 blue and 1 yellow. Follow the yellow arrow to the left which takes you into Pitchcombe Wood, joining another section of the Cotswold Way.
7. The path follows the bottom edge of the wood with fields to your right. At just short of 2 miles into the walk and as you reach the 2nd set of wooden benches you will see a metal gate ahead and a path off to the left climbing up into the woods. Take the left path.
8. After a steep climb the path takes you to the top of the woods where you follow the path to the left. This takes you back over yourself following the top edge of the woods.
9. Stay on this winding path until you reach a gate. Pass through the gate and you will enter a field. Walk along the top edge of the field with the fence on your right.
10. You should eventually reach a gate with a stile on your right which is the stile you hopped over earlier before you entered the woods.
11. Back over the stile and up the lane until you reach the farm. Cross the busy road bearing slightly left and then right, back down the tarmac lane until you reach the stile on the right that takes you back past the Alpaca and to the car park.
6 mile Walk
Follow the instructions for the shorter walk until point 9, where there are 2 options, and I will explain why. When you reach the gate at point 9 and pass through it, immediately on your right is a stone slab set in the wall with a sign advising you to keep your dogs on a lead. There is an electric fence on the other side which has been covered (to a degree) to enable walkers to pass through. I managed to get over it but am not sure how your dog would fare; I didn't have mine with me. If you are at all concerned you can follow the above walk back to the main road, but turn right to go past Stoneridge Farm, where you will see a footpath sign on the right over a stile into a field. You can then walk diagonally across this field where you will reach the stile that you would reach if you had hopped over the electric fence at point 1 below. This obviously adds a fraction onto the walk. If you are happy to hop over the electric fence at point 9 proceed as follows:
1. Once over the stone slab aim right and up and away over the field. As you walk over the brow of the field, you should see metal posts ahead and to the right; this is where the stile is you are heading for.
2. Cross the stile onto a lane which you need to cross and bear right where you will see a footpath sign on the left pointing into the woods. Take this path
3. Almost imediately the path splits. Keep straight ahead and the path will take you down through the woods.
4. This path comes to a T - take the right turn and then almost immediately left. This is the extremely steep section.
5. Stay on this path which takes you all the way down to the bottom and, at the very bottom you join a path where you want to turn left so that the fields are on your right and the woods on your left. Up ahead you are entering Stockend Wood.
6. Don't deviate from this path until it reaches a tarmac lane at which point you bear right.
7. After a short stretch you reach a stone property on your left with a Cotswold Way signpost pointing up and to the left of the house signposted for Haresfield Beacon. Follow this path.
8. This path takes you past a Granite Memorial Stone aka the Cromwell Stone. This commemorates the relinquishing of the attempt by Royalists to besiege Gloucester.
9. The path eventually reaches another tarmac lane and freaky doll if she is still standing there waving from the barn - see Blog. Join the lane and bear left. A short climb and then on the right you will see a footpath sign and a gate. Pass through the gate.
10. Another steady climb ahead with views on your right.
11. The lane narrows alongside a field with a drop to your right after which you will reach a gate which takes you through to open fields. Follow the right side of the field where there is a hint of a path and you should be able to spy the stone triangulation point up ahead which is where you are heading for.
12. It is definitely worth stopping here for a while to take in the views - a good picnic spot if the weather is good.
13. With your back to the triangulation point looking back the way you came, there is a path slightly to your right running up and down along the edge of the hill. Take this path.
14. You reach a gate which takes you past the other side of the field you walked up alongside.
15. The path eventually reaches the road which you drove up to park. You could therefore walk back along the road to the car park but I took the steps on your right that take you down and away from the road.
16. At the bottom of the steps, bear left and follow this path that eventually takes you back into the field that is at the back of the carpark. Keep to the left of the field and soon you should be able to see your car.