• Route Map • Highlights, Photos • Where to stay
One of the most beautiful circular day-rides in the Cotswolds but seemingly unknown to all but a handful of people and a few sheep.
Two thirds of the route is off-road along little-used bridleways, so the ride takes a couple of hours at a leisurely pace, but allow at least three or four to stop for views, listen to the silence, and picnic if the weather’s good.
Start and finish in Sheepscombe; or begin the ride in the Brimpsfield or Birdlip area and stop for lunch at The Butchers Arms in Sheepscombe.
Terrain: Tracks and paths through beech woods and meadows and a few quiet roads. The climb through the woods from Sheepscombe isn’t steep but can be muddy after wet weather. Take your time and it’s worth it.
Distance: 10 miles (15 kms).
Sheepscombe and the beech woods
The attractive Cotswold village of Sheepscombe (pictured above) is set in a deep valley, accessed down narrow windy lanes. The village has a pleasant pub, The Butchers Arms, and a lively village school but no shops. The nearest are in Painswick.
After the track through the beech woods, there’s a brief bit of B-road, then a pleasant quiet lane to the village of Brimpsfield. Say hello to the big black pig in the field on the left if he’s still there. Then approach the churchyard through a series of yew tree arches. It’s a good place to pause, rest on the benches and enjoy the views from this elevated position. The church is 12th and 13th century, with a 16th century tower. Originally, it was next to a castle, but only the mound and empty moat remain as the castle was destroyed after its owner chose the losing side in a battle against the king in 1322. In the following years, villagers recycled the stone from the castle to build better houses.
Meadows and woodland paths
From Brimpsfield there’s another lane, leading to a path through fields, more beech woods, flower-strewn meadows, and spectacular views, passing few other people, if any at all. You come out of the woods above Sheepscombe. Pause for the view before freewheeling down to the village and perhaps the pub.
Where to stay
One option is The Royal George 18th century Hotel in Birdlip, about half a mile from the northernmost section of this route.
Self-catering cottages in the countryside and villages near Sheepscombe are a good alternative; as is the historic Cotswold town of Painswick, with its boutique hotels, B&Bs, self-catering cottages and friendly inns.
Painswick is one of the most well-preserved Cotswold towns, a good centre for exploring the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, and less than 10 minutes by car from Sheepscombe.
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