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Awesome walk in the Cotswolds 3: The Bredon Escarpment

Updated on January 7, 2013
Cotswold stone houses in Overbury
Cotswold stone houses in Overbury | Source

One of the most gratifying sights to behold in the Cotswold lies at the end of the walk I am going to tell you about today. This particularly pleasant amble starts in the idyllic village of Overbury, much of which is owned by the Overbury Estate. This estate belongs to a very old family with very old money behind them.

If you picture in your mind your idea of the quintessential English village, it probably looks very much like Overbury. Cotswold stone houses, beautifully kept gardens (which are open to the public once a year during the village fete) an impeccable cricket green, and friendly locals who are the type of neighbours folk dream of inviting round for afternoon tea. At least, if people still did that sort of thing they would.

Locals at Overbury showing the visiting team what-for
Locals at Overbury showing the visiting team what-for | Source
Cotswold sheep
Cotswold sheep | Source

To get to the start of the walk, Ash and I drove up the road that runs up alongside the village cricket green at a right angle to the village’s main street and through-road, then parked by a gate leading to a hillside sheep field. After parking up, we girded our respective loins and passed through the gate and over a cattle-grid. This took us up onto a steep unmarked road that runs up through the sheep field at a steep angle. Impressive old trees rise out of the field at various points along with the occasional young sapling planted by the estate and ringed with protective fencing to ward off peckish ruminants.

Up to the left as we strolled, we could see ancient woodland fenced off beyond the sheep field; the raucous calling of pheasants could be heard echoing down to us. Down to our right the hill sloped away towards a gurgling, rushing stream that serves as a line that marks the end of a number of private gardens that can all be seen from the walk. One in particular has become a favourite to peek at from the vantage of that agricultural by-way. It sports a decorative bridge over the water as well as a large pond (verging on being a small lake) with its very own waterfall. Jealous? Nah…

It was late spring when we did this walk and thus we were surrounded by frisky lambs leaping about the place with unseemly abandon and joy. Their world-weary mothers stared at us with fixed nervous looks till we’d passed. About two thirds of the way up, there is a nice spot to pause under the branches of a Horse Chestnut tree overhanging a large natural pond beside the little road. Sitting on the gnarled roots of the tree for a quick breather (it is steep after all) we looked back and already a good view of the valley had revealed itself. You’d be forgiven for wondering if the final view was going to be worth it having seen something so pleasing already – but you’re in for a treat, believe me.

Having taken this small breather, we carried on up the road and finally passed out of the field into a yet more steep tree-lined section. The trees lean over the road quite atmospherically and the pheasants can be heard (and occasionally seen) rummaging in the undergrowth. After a short stretch of this, we finally reached the end of the tarmac and passed through a heavy gate onto a broad yellow stoned path. There is the option at this point to turn left, right, or straight on. For the purposes of this walk, you need to head straight and just keep following the path. This leads you between arable crop fields at times verdant with mange tout at others glorious and sunny yellow with ‘fragrant' rapeseed. It was so lovely to be up there walking amongst all the sprawling greenness. We followed the path as it veered around to the left and carried on past a farmhouse. As the ground inclines a bit again and you find yourself once more amongst grazing sheep, there are old abandoned gravel pits dotted about the place like picturesque craters with gnarled bushes and trees poking out where they’ve managed to gain purchase in the loose rocks.

Finally, we came to some obviously man-made earthworks, like large mounded walls a couple of meters across and covered in thick grass and sheep dung that lead to a squat concrete tower. When you see this, you are almost at your destination. The ground dips down to the right of the tower and as you come close, you realise suddenly that you are right on the edge of a sudden drop and you are on the very edge of the Bredon escarpment. An absolutely jaw dropping view of the Evesham vale and beyond can be seen from here. The vista that stretches out takes in the hills of the Cotswold way and beyond on the left, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury with it’s spired abbey, the river’s severn and avon can be seen, and all the villages and fields right the way across to the Malvern hills on the right. On a clear day you can see right behind the Malverns to the Black mountains in Wales. This is one of the best views of English countryside it is possible to get – and it is well worth the walk!

Finaly found a view from the escarpment - I've seen much better shots though. I will go back and re-take my own photos soon.
Finaly found a view from the escarpment - I've seen much better shots though. I will go back and re-take my own photos soon. | Source
Here's another view from the escarpment on a less clear day.
Here's another view from the escarpment on a less clear day. | Source

Another little idosyncracy of this spot is that it is a frequent flyover spot for the military aircraft coming over from nearby fairford, and walkers have taken it upon themselves to leave messages for the pilots to read in loose Cotswold stone on the background of lush green grass. I like little things like that. Next time we visit that spot I think we shall leave a message of our own. If you make this walk – I challenge you to leave a little message in stone and take a photo. Send it to me using the contact info below and I will post the most original messages in the following section of this hub for people to rate.

The Yew Tree Inn, Conderton
The Yew Tree Inn, Conderton | Source

With that breathtaking visual climax under one’s belt, the only thing left to do is find a decent watering hole to refresh oneself. To this end, we turned back (for the route from here is a simple retracing of one’s steps) and followed the way back to the car. On either side of the village of Overbury are the villages of Conderton and Kemerton, and it is Conderton that you next need to make your way to in order to finish your day in an appropriate manner. There you will find a fabulous old pub called the Yew Tree which not only is a fantastic old building with obligatory low ceilings, big wooden beams and tons of Cotswold atmosphere… it also happens to serve damn good food and some pretty nice ales. I recommend the Wadworth 6X. Try it – it’s bloody nice.

The end destination

The image above is a birds eye view of the viewing point. For some reason it seems detirmined to be displayed in map format, but I suggest you click 'satellite' to see what I am talking about. Roughly in the centre of the image is an odd, vaguely circular patch of ground that is clearly a hollow of some kind. This is the spot where you can find messages written out in Cotswold stone debris. From the NorthWest rim of this hollow, the ground slopes away and a view of the valley all the way accross to the Malverns is yours to gaze upon.

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