The festive break offers the opportunity to lace up your boots and dust off your map or try out the new GPS device you found under the tree, says Colin Handy. Here are his top 10 pub walks to keep you in that Christmas spirit
Pick up the ‘Cotswold Way’ as it passes the Crown & Trumpet pub and walk through the centre of this splendid little town. Continue to follow the distinctive way signs as you climb the steep field paths to the summit and the viewpoint surrounding the stone tower. Now retrace your steps for a cosy pub stop.
Start the walk at the Craven Arms and locate the field path below the pub, crossing the infant River Coln. Turn left and cross the fields to St Andrew’s church. Cross straight over and follow the path down to the ford at Sevenhampton. Walk the few short steps to the T-junction and turn right. When the road ends go through two gates and walk uphill to a broad track. Turn left on to the stony track and enjoy the views. After almost a mile, when you meet a minor road, turn left and walk downhill through the village back to the pub.
With this walk you have two options. Either take your life in your hands and start the walk at the Air Balloon pub, crossing the A417 to Crickley Hill Country Park or pay to park then drive across to the pub. Either way you can while away as much time as you like exploring the myriad paths in the Country Park which is a treat at any time of the year.
From the Plough Inn, cross the B4077 road and follow the ‘Gloucestershire Way’ signs across the exercise gallops of Jackdaw’s Castle. Turn left when you meet a road and left again at the first crossroads, heading for Cutsdean. In the centre of Cutsdean look for a footpath on the left hand side and follow it over two fields back to the gallops and the pub.
From the Fox inn walk along the minor road to Windrush. Just before you reach the village church look for a field footpath on your left-hand side. Take the path and follow it as it gently meanders through the meadows, leading you to Little Barrington. Once in the picture postcard village, turn left and follow the minor road back to the riverside pub.
Start at the Black Horse inn and walk out of the village past St Andrew’s church and up to the junction with the B4068 road. Cross straight over and walk downhill to Aylworth. Turn left and follow the ‘Windrush Way’ for half-a-mile before going left again. Walk through the centre of Naunton Downs golf course and back to the B4068. Turn right and then left to drop downhill to return to the pub. And if you like a pint, don’t forget to try the SBA.
From the town centre walk up Wick Street and follow the ‘Cotswold Way’ signs on to the nearby golf course. Walk across to the beacon hill to enjoy truly magnificent views. Continue to follow the Way when it passes the 9th green to visit the Royal William pub at Cranham. Now re-trace your steps taking any one of the varied routes across the golf course to return to Painswick.
Start at the Hungry Horse pub and walk up to the junction of A435 and A436. Turn left on to the minor road following the ‘Cotswold Way’ signs up to Hartley Hill. Breathtaking views keep opening up as you edge along the escarpment on your way to the Devil’s Chimney. Drink in the scenery before leaving the ‘Cotswold Way’ on the minor road. Now simply follow the road through Hartley Farm to return to your starting point.
Start your walk from The Mount Inn and walk downhill through this prettiest of villages following the ‘Cotswold Way’ left across field paths to neighbouring Stanway. There are views galore and fine buildings to remember. To vary the route back to Stanton, just follow the country lanes.
From the Queen’s Head inn find the narrow lane leading you across the A429 to the cricket grounds. Cross through the grounds and walk downhill to the Golden Ball pub at Lower Swell. From the pub turn left on to a minor road before following the ‘Heart of England’ path to Hyde Mill. At the mill, follow the driveway back to the A429. Turn left and then right on to the ‘Macmillian Way’ to Maugersbury before turning left to return to Stow.