Day Five on the Cotswold Way: Birdlip to Painswick

A walk in the woods complete with squirrels, pheasants and woodpeckers ending in the picturesque town of Painswick – what more could a girl want?

A walk in the woods, Cotswold Way
A walk in the woods, Cotswold Way

The Cotswold Way on this day’s section proceeded nearly entirely along forest paths and was characterised by climbs up and down two hills. The first major hill of the day was Coopers Hill, where each year in May about 5000 people gather to watch a number of foolhardy souls hurtle down hill chasing a cheese round. Now Rob likes his cheese as much as the next man (probably more) but with age has come wisdom and the realisation that a knee going pop is not a good thing. Even he looked at the steepness of the hill and thought the contestants must be mad. That the injuries last year included a dislocated shoulder, broken ankle and broken neck (thankfully without major consequences) just demonstrates that competing is assisted by being young and convinced of your own immortality.

Coopers Hill, Cotswold Way
Coopers Hill, Cotswold Way

From Coopers Hill the Cotswold Way passed through Buckholt Woods, said to be one of the finest examples of old beech forest in Europe (250 years). While the woods were pleasant they pale in comparison to the beech forests of New Zealand where trees can be three times the age of the UK versions.

From Buckholt Woods we climbed up to Painswick Beacon, 250 acres of common land where the Cotswold Way passed through yet another golf course. On the top of the beacon are the remains of a large Iron Age hill fort which covers 7 acres. It is, however, more discernible as an old fort from aerial photos taken from above, than to the casual walker.

From Painswick Beacon it was all down hill to Painswick, which lives up its reputation as the Queen of the Cotswolds.  In the centre of town is the Church of St Mary surrounded by 99 manicured yew trees. In September there is a “Clypping Ceremony” and for those interested it is possible to sponsor a yew tree. Across from St Marys is New Street (circa 1428) where our hotel for the evening, the Falcon, is located. The Falcon dates back to 1554 and in its day was an important inn for stage coaches. It even has its own bowling green, which is reputed to be the oldest in England.

Yew trees, Painswick, Cotswold Way
Yew trees, Painswick, Cotswold Way

The only thing missing from Painswick was a tea room. Yes, it has cafes, but even though they both sell tea and cakes they are not the same thing (stick with me, it’s the vibe).

Food and Accommodation: The Falcon, Painswick. An old inn with pleasant rooms and good food.

The Falcon, Painswick, Cotswold Way
The Falcon, Painswick, Cotswold Way

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