And through the mist may walk Liz Hurley
THE SUNDAY WALK: Wander through the unspoilt Cotswold town of Winchcombe and its surrounds, just a couple of hours from London
Sunday 26 January 1997
At eight miles it's not a short walk, but much of it is along good farmtracks so the going is easy and quick. Besides, the best place to eat at the end is in fact a teashop, the Old Bakery in the High Street, so you'd be better to take a chocolate bar with you and aim to finish around three, ready to be restored with sandwiches, scones and home-made cakes, rather than rush back for lunch.
One extra attraction. Sudeley Castle, which the route passes, is home to Henry Brocklehurst, close friend of Liz Hurley, and has served in the past as her bolthole when the going with Hugh got tough. The potential for star-spotting can be utilised to coax lazy friends into the open air.
The walk starts in Winchcombe, still a lovely, unspoilt little town a couple of hours from London. Dawdle here for a few minutes, then turn downhill off the High Street into Castle Street. Take the footpath marked on the right after the bridge and head diagonally across fields, keeping to the right of Sudeley Castle, heading for the kissing gate beyond the play area (to your right). The castle is open to visitors in the summer. Pass through the second kissing gate, keeping a keen eye out at all times for Liz, then cross Home Parks diagonally, heading for trees in the far left corner.
Turn sharp left over a stile, following a left-hand path sign along hedge. Turn right at the top of the field. Cross the stile on the left beyond a coloured pipeline-marker into a field above you and continue uphill, turning right on to the private road at the top. Continue down this road to Sudeley Lodge (note the small sign announcing that George III stayed there) then turn left beyond it and climb the farm road. Stay on this, bearing right, to Parks Farm which is visible in the distance. The views from this high track are good, apparently. Sadly, I saw nothing.
Take the track above Parks Farm, turning sharp left uphill opposite the farm cottages, eventually following the edge of the woodland, which is on your left.
When you meet a minor road, turn right on to it. This is the course of the medieval Salt Way. Follow this through two small woods, then turn right on to a farm track at a stone sign for Spoonley Farm. Past the farm you reach a junction. Turn sharp right off the main track, heading for gap between Spoonley Wood and Limehill Wood. Here, turn left over the stile and follow the track through Spoonley Wood. You will pass the remains of Spoonley Roman Villa which looks more promising than it is. The visible walls were in fact reconstructed by Victorian archaeologists.
When the path leaves the woods turn left and continue to the end of the field, then left again over the causeway. Head diagonally across the field to farm buildings. Turn right between these barns on to a farm road and stay on this, bearing right at two junctions with other paths, and then left at a third junction, heading now for Newmeadow Farm. Turn left here through the gate heading up fields towards woodland but turn right on to the track just before reaching this, heading for Humblebee Cottages. Here bear right on to the track.
From here back to Winchcombe, the path forms part of the Cotswold Way and is clearly marked. If the following instructions become too complicated, the general direction should be clear - just head for the town, following the footpath signs.
Specifically, pass to right of Wadfield Farm, leaving the farm track, and, after the beautiful 18th-century farmhouse, drop down the field, following the hedge. Cross the stile and continue, bearing left at the corner of this field. Soon, turn right over stile and then left, keeping the hedge to your left. Turn right at the end of this field and then left, crossing a bridge and a stile. Follow path signs in the direction of Winchcombe church, eventually bearing left on to a small road. Follow this into town. Pleasantly aching, turn into High Street, put your nose in the air and head for food.
This walk features in the 'Ordnance Survey Landranger Guidebook to The Cotswolds'.
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