Old Sodbury and the Cotswold Edge

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Old Sodbury, nestling below the Cotswold escarpment, still manages to retain a certain rural charm despite its proximity to Bristol and the attractions it holds for commuters. Inside the 800-year-old St John the Baptist Church are two fine effigies, both of knights, one dating from the 14th Century, unusually carved in wood, the other dating from the 13th Century, carved in stone, the knight nearly swamped by his shield! Who these effigies represent is unknown, but it is thought that they could have been Lords of the local Manor. The view from the churchyard is especially fine, with the Severn Vale and the distant Welsh Hills to the west and the slopes of the Cotswold Hills stretching away to the north.

From Old Sodbury, the walk climbs the escarpment before following well-defined field-paths and tracks across the local hilltops. The focus of this open landscape is Lyegrove House, a mansion that is surrounded by workaday farmland whose fields and bridleways are often crossed by the Beaufort Hunt based at nearby Badminton. Lyegrove is no National Trust or English Heritage property, neither does it feature in any of the local guidebooks. It remains a very private residence, whose history appears to be a guarded secret! Passers-by must content themselves with tantalising glimpses of the house from the nearby bridleway.

Before dropping back downhill into Old Sodbury, the walk passes quite literally through Sodbury Fort, a rectangular multivallate fort enclosing some eleven acres, whose origins can be traced as far back as the Iron Age. The scarp slope of the Cotswold Hills provided a natural defence on its western side, the remaining defences being double ramparts, an awesome twelve feet in height. The Romans strengthened and used the camp as one of their frontier posts, whilst in AD577 the Saxon army camped here before the fateful battle at nearby Dyrham. In 1471, Edward IV rested here before moving on to destroy the army of Margaret of Anjou at the Battle of Tewkesbury. It is indeed a site of multi-occupancy, whose ancient fortifications hide many a tale of brave warriors from the past.

Below the hill-fort, a field-path runs along the foot of the escarpment back into Old Sodbury. Here is a place where you may wish to linger and rest awhile. If you have brought a picnic, there are few better spots to relax than on that churchyard seat overlooking the Severn Vale. The alternative is to visit the Dog Inn, back on the main road through the village, where you will find a menu whose range of dishes surely deserves a place in the Guinness Book of Records!

England - South West England - Gloucestershire - Countryside

Features

Church, Great Views, Pub, Stately Home
29/10/2015 - Dianne Livingstone

Our walking group did this walk recently and felt that it was much easier than even some of the 'easy' rated walks. It is definitely not 6 miles but only about 4 miles. However we extended it to 7 miles by continuing to the track at waymark 4, turning right and then left onto the footpath a little further down, through the fort at Horton and joining the Cotswolds Way that leads to the fort in Little Sodbury. The fort at Horton actually has better, more incredible views of the valley. Would recommend it if you have a bit more time!

15/01/2011 - David Jackson

Did this walk this morning, very muddy but no livestock in sight. According to my GPS (Viewranger) the total distance is 4.23 miles, duration two hours exactly.

31/12/2003 - Cathy Benjamin

we did this walk in our xmas hols 2003. The weather had been wet and this made the walking quite hard as the soil is very sticky. The footpath crossed large planted fields on 3 occasions - the path had been ploughed up. Twice we walked around the side of the fields, muttering about the farmer. The third field, just before Lyegrove House, we walked across the middle of. Even this was difficult due to the tilled soil being so loose. Before this there was a field with a "bull in field" notice. So we weren't too impressed with the local farmers. In spite of these tribulations we enjoyed ourselves - we think we took about 2 hours to complete. Cathyb

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