Winchcombe Sightseeing & Activities Guide…
Set above the River Isbourne, Winchcombe really is a shining example of a traditional Cotswold market town, filled with boutique shops, antique treasures, cafes and pubs and overlooked by the magnificent Sudeley Castle. Wander down Castle or Vineyard Street towards the 1000-year-old Sudeley Castle or venture into Dent’s Terrace for a view of one of the finest rows of cottages in the land; these almshouses are the work of Emma Dent (Sudeley Castle – 1850’s) who forged strong links between the town and the castle.
The historic home and resting place of Henry VIII’s last wife Katherine Parr is a short walk from Barebones Farm and is an absolute must-visit for guests. Offering plenty to keep all ages entertained, the beautiful grounds will satisfy garden-lovers and history buffs alike, whilst the adventure playground and acres of manicured lawns offer the perfect place for younger guests to stretch their legs.
The brainchild of the 18th Century landscape designer Capability Brown and designed by the architect James Wyatt, Broadway Tower is a great attraction for Cotswold visitors wanting to experience great English heritage in an inspiring location. See examples of the work of William Morris and understand the link between the Tower and the Arts and Crafts. At 1024 feet (312m) above sea level it is the second highest point on the Cotswold escarpment (Cleeve Hill is the highest at 330m). From the viewing platform you can see all around along a 62-mile radius, taking in 16 counties on a clear day. Conveniently located on the Cotswold Way, Broadway Tower is the perfect place to start a walk, with ample car parking for visitors.
Prescott Hill Climb
A day out on the Prescott Estate truly is the quintessential “garden party”. Whether you are picnicking in the Orchard as you watch the cars flash past or wandering around the Paddock talking to the drivers while admiring their fantastic cars and motorcycles you are sure to have a fabulous day.
Cheltenham Festivals is a charity running outreach programmes throughout the year, culminating with the town’s internationally acclaimed Jazz (May), Science (June), Music (July), and Literature (October) Festivals over a total of 36 days. The four festivals feature nearly 1,000 events, with 25% of their programme free to enter. Bringing in world-famous acts, performers, experts and authors year on year, the town well and truly comes to life during the Festivals. Head to the website to see if your stay coincides with one of the above but, be warned, tickets can be snapped up months in advance for the most popular events.
Cheltenham racecourse, the jewel in Jump racing’s crown, plays host to the best horse jumping action in the world from 350 spectacular acres in the lee of the beautiful Cotswold hills. Whether you’re here on a crisp bright October day or a balmy evening in May, you’ll feel that unmistakable Cheltenham magic. There are 16 days of top-class Jump racing in the Cheltenham race calendar, with hundreds of thousands of racing fans visiting every year. Spectators can enjoy a wide variety of race experiences from the relaxed meetings in October and April to the exciting November Meeting and family fun on New Year’s Day. But the real focus of the Jump season, is of course, The Festival™ presented by Magners, taking place over four days in March with the backdrop of the magnificent Cotswolds. Read more about the area in our Cheltenham Guidebook.
Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR), which runs between Cheltenham Race Course and Broadway, is a steam and diesel heritage railway. Since 1981, the volunteers have restored over 10 miles of line, together with platforms, buildings, steam and diesel locomotives and rolling stock. In addition to a scheduled service, GWR hosts a number of galas and enthusiasts’ events throughout the year, including the ever-popular Santa Specials.
Further afield, history buffs have Blenheim Palace (1-hour drive) and Warwick Castle (1-hour drive) to explore, whilst Shakespeare’s birthplace, the medieval market town of Stratford-upon-Avon, is just 40 minutes by car.
Sitting in the heart of the Cotswolds, Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park has a long-standing reputation for a fun-filled day out. Visitors of all ages can interact closely with the animals and learn about farming, past and present. As the home of rare breed conservation, visitors can meet over 50 flocks and herds of farm animals, including Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs and Highland cattle. There is plenty to do all year round, whatever the weather, with an adventure playground, Farm Safari, Maze, Tractor School, Sand pits and Jumping pillows, providing entertainment for children of all ages. Adam’s Kitchen cafe/restaurant and the Farm Park shop are both open to the public, so you don’t even need to buy a ticket to the Farm Park.
The 56-acre arboretum at Batsford is situated just one mile west of the historic market town of Moreton-in-Marsh, in the heart of the Cotswolds. A former home to the famous Mitford family, interest in the arboretum begins in late winter when the snowdrops, aconites and early flowering daffodils spring into life, followed by magnolias, hellebores, fritillaries and the beautiful Japanese ornamental cherries – stars of the show from late March until mid-April. The handkerchief tree is another show-stopper in May, as are the beautiful wildflower meadows which bloom in high summer.
An intimate community theatre, presenting a mix of non-professional and small-scale professional stage productions.
The Wilson, formerly known as Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, was opened in 1899. It offers free admission and has a programme of special exhibitions.
Victorian theatre in the heart of Cheltenham presenting a wide range of shows from comedy, drama, musicals & opera. They also produce a family pantomime.
Wesley House Restaurant & Wine Bar, High Street 01242 602 366
Number 5, North Street 01242 604 566
The Old Corner Cupboard, 83 Gloucester Street 01242 602 303
The Lion Inn, 37 North Street 01242 603 300
Plaisterers Arms, Abbey Terrace 01242 602 358
The White Hart, High Street 01242 602 359
The Royal Oak, Gretton, Nr Winchcombe 01242 604 999
Honey Bea’s Cafe, 6 Hailes Street 01242 352 392
Food Fanatics Deli and Coffee Shop, 12 North Street 01242 604 466
Winchcombe Fish Bar, North Street 01242 603 080
Winchcombe Chinese, 17 North Street 01242 602 116
Rosie’s Grill – Thai (take out or eat in) 01242 604 879
Stores & Services
The Mid-counties Co-operative, 22-24 North Street Open 7am-10pm
Warner’s Budgens, Greet Rd Open 7am-9pm
Theatre Box Offices
The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham 01242 512 515
The Playhouse, Cheltenham 01242 522 852
Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury 01684 295 074
Marchants Coaches 01242 602 949
Lloyds Pharmacy 01242 602 305
Newsagent 01242 602 440
Dry Cleaners 01242 603 016
Coventry Building Society, High St, Winchcombe 01242 602228
Hairdressing & Beauty:
Book A Head 01242 602 255
The Cats Whiskers 01242 604 390
Beauty Beyond 01242 604 017
St Peters – Gloucester Street
Methodist Church – High Street
Catholic Church – Chandos Street
Cascades (Swimming Pool) 01684 293 740
Lower Langley Riding School 01242 604 283
Wood Stanway Riding School 01386 584 404
Abbey Private Hire 07564 989 643
A Private Hire 07540 437 546
Starline Taxis 01242 250250
Andycars 01242 262611
Winchcombe’s rolling countryside is a true walkers’ paradise, with options for casual, seasoned and hardy walkers running right from the cottage’s front door. Winchcombe itself is a “walkers are welcome” town, a special status awarded to towns and villages which go above and beyond with their walking amenities, making it a fantastic destination for groups in search of a walking break. See: Winchcombe Welcomes Walkers
The Winchcombe Way, a 42-mile figure-of-eight trail centred around the town, offers walkers a great way of discovering the surrounding Cotswold towns and villages section-by-section over the course of a stay, whilst there are plenty of options for those looking for a more casual, leisurely pace within a close radius of the cottage.
We recommend the Sudeley Castle Circular walk for a relaxing stroll; a 2-mile loop setting off straight from the cottage’s front door, taking you into the grounds of historic Sudeley Castle – a must-visit for any guest. The 2 ½ mile walk to Belas Knap, a Neolithic chambered long barrow sat atop Cleeve Hill, is also a great walk to try from the doorstep, providing you don’t mind the incline.
This super figure-of-eight trail takes you on a tour of the stunning northern area of the Cotswolds.
The walk begins at Winchcombe and heads to Dumbleton via Gretton and Alderton. At Dumbleton you turn south over Dumbleton Hill and through Alstone toward Cleeve Hill and Common. Cleeve Hill is the highest point of both the Cotswolds hill range and in the county of Gloucestershire, at 1083 ft. Here you will also find Belas Knap, a Neolithic chambered long barrow. A scheduled ancient monument in the care of English Heritage, it has been described as an ‘outstanding example representing a group of long barrows commonly referred to as the Cotswold-Severn group’.
Shortly after Belas Knap you return to Winchcombe where the next section of the walk takes to Temple Guiting, passing through Guiting Wood on the way. The path continues to Snowshill where you can explore the delightful Snowshill Manor. Here you can view Charles Wade’s collection of ‘colour, craftsmanship and design’ and enjoy the beautiful hillside gardens.
From Stanshill you continue through Buckland and Stanton before coming to another major route highlight at Stanway House. This splendid Jacobean manor house is right on the trail and open to the public. There are also beautiful gardens and a 300ft high fountain which is the tallest gravity fountain in the world.
The final section of the walk takes you back to Winchcombe, passing Didbrook and the National Trust owned Hailes Abbey with its 13th century ruins and excellent museum.
The eastern loop climbs out of Winchcombe and follows the Farmcote valley before entering Guiting Wood. From here it passes through quiet valleys and the tranquil villages of Cutsdean, Taddington and Snowshill. The route turns and follows the Cotswold escarpment through the villages of Buckland, Laverton and Stanton nestling at the bottom of the hill. The trail passes Stanway House and the recently restored watermill before passing Hailes Abbey on the return to Winchcombe.
The western loop ascends Langley Hill with splendid views before dropping down into Gretton and across to Alderton. From here the trail skirts around Dumbleton Hill with ever changing views before heading to Alstone. From Alstone the views ahead of wooded hills inspires one to climb Nottingham Hill and onto Cleeve Common. The vast common has rare plants and spectacular views before you head to Belas Knap long barrow and descend towards Winchcombe with fine views of Sudeley Castle and the surrounding countryside.
The Isbourne Way
This waymarked trail, launched at Winchcombe’s walking festival in 2014, follows the River Isbourne from its source on Cleeve Hill to its confluence with the Warwickshire Avon at Evesham, a distance of some 14 miles.
The Isbourne Way weaves existing footpaths into a route starting at the Washpool on Cleeve Hill, it passes through Winchcombe, Toddington, Wormington and Sedgeberrow, and ends at Evesham. The trail features woods, open countryside, villages and towns with pubs and shops, and sites of interest such as mills and churches.
The Isbourne Way itself is waymarked throughout using the mill wheel motif shown. The prologue, the epilogue and the ‘return’ routes are not identified on the ground but are signed with the standard arrows – yellow for footpaths, blue for bridleways
The Cotswolds is perfect for road and mountain bike cycling, with are bridleways and quiet country lanes galore, and while you’ll struggle to avoid a few uphill stretches at least most are relatively short! It’s easy to plan a route that takes in at least one village where you’ll be sure to find a pub or café to revive yourself or a shop to stock up on back-pocket sustenance. Head to Cotswolds AONB website: Walk, Cycle & Explore for route maps:
Obtain copies of a more detailed route maps from Winchcombe Tourist Information.