Statistics: 12.5 miles, 1525′ ascent, 994′ descent.

Using my Garmin GPS (Oregon 600) and its trail map, we discovered a quick way to rejoin the Cotswold Way, which was not far from the hotel. This path led us through some very pleasant grassy fields as we began to climb.

The climb led to Lineover Wood and eventually dropped down to Seven Springs which is claimed to be the source of the River Thames. This area seemed to be quite popular as we saw many walkers, dogs, and equestrians enjoying a beautiful Spring morning. The trail, again, began to wind up another hill, Hartley Hill, for additional views of the town of Cheltenham.

Climbing Hartley Hill

Nearing the top of the gorse-covered hill we had a terrific view of the city below.

Cheltenham from Hartley Hill

Cresting the hill, we came to the flat-topped Leckhampton Hill where we encountered equestrians – frequent users of this trail.

Horses on Leckhampton Hill
trig point on Leckhampton Hill

An Iron Age hillfort is located at Leckhampton, dated about 800BC and revealed by the exposed berms surrounding it. We had seen so many of these forts that it had become difficult to not take them for granted.

Leckhampton hill fort

Exploring more of this fascinating area, we discovered the Devil’s Chimney Rock which was apparently created as a hoax by quarry workers in the 17th-century. It is now forbidden to climb on this rock, but in times past as many as 13 people could perch on top at a time.

Devil’s Chimney Rock

We managed to lose the trail by investigating an interesting path which descended steeply from the escarpment. After finding the ruins of the old Leckhampton Lime Kiln at the bottom of this hill, we realized that we were on the wrong path and had to retrace our steps. Back on the correct trail, we were delighted to find a National Trust snack shop at the fascinating Crickley Hill Country Park, where ancient remains of Neolithic and Iron Age civilizations have been discovered. From this site, the view of the emerald green countryside was spectacular.

View from Crickley Hill overlooking Barrow Wake

At the base of Crickley Hill, we had to cross the very busy A417 roadway. This took some time and was dangerous as there was no allowance for pedestrians. Once that hair-raising event was accomplished, we climbed up to Barrow Wake, a rise directly across from Crickley which allowed for another striking view of not only Crickley Hill, but the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons in the far distance.

View of Crickley Hill

Following a woodland track, we found our way to the village of Birdlip (I would love to know the origin of such an unusual name) and the pleasant Royal George Hotel. Birdlip is situated on an old Roman road, now named Ermin Street.

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