There have been sheep on the hills since before the Romans. Mills are mentioned in the Doomsday Book, 1087, and the mix of pasture and fast flowing stream has brought wealth to the area.
Canals to the sea via the River Severn, and access across the Cotswolds to the River Thames at Lechlade opened up the markets for the cloth of the area. It's not just the Stroud valleys either, there were about 80 mills around Wotton Under Edge.
But all was not a bed of roses with industrial unrest from 1770's through to the mid 1800's. It's a fascinating story and the Museum in the Park in Stroud is well worth a visit, as are the Heritage Centres in Dursley and Wotton Under Edge.
From Stroud District Council....... https://www.stroud.gov.uk/media/1754/ihca-vol1-chapter-4-nov-2008.pdf
For a broader look at the canals try the British Waterways Museum in Gloucester Docks. Perhaps take a boat trip down the Gloucester to Sharpness Canal, walk the towpaths with their information boards, or standup paddle board to get a different perspective.
At the very heart of the English Arts & Crafts Movement. The last of the great Cotswold wool churches, and the first to exhibit work of the craftsman movement. Parties of visitors are extended a warm welcome. Refreshments and a guide can be arranged.
Selsley West, Stroud, GL5 5LG
The Ancient Ram Inn is an 800 year old Grade II* Listed former Inn. Sitting in a dip below the main street in Wotton, it claims to be England's most haunted building. The Deeds to The Ram Inn, are mostly in Norman French and are held at Gloucester Records Office. They read, The Ancient Ram Inn dates to Time Immemorial, so it could be much older than 800 years.
The Ancient Ram Inn is unique. It was home to John Humphries and a Guest House, which evolved into a Paranormal Location because it has a life of its own few can ignore. A COVID safe Tourist Attraction primarily operating a Paranormal Event Location. Often on TV too.
8 Potters Pond, Wotton under Edge, GL12 7HF
Norman Keep, Medieval castle and assaulted during the Civil War, it's rich in history. Extensive gardens and butterfly house. Family activities and special events throughout the year. (including jousting).
Edward II was imprisoned and then executed here and then buried in Gloucester Cathedral, why not make a day of it and go and see both.
Tours of the Castle with Charles Berkeley. Also a popular Wedding venue. Open Sunday to Wednesday each week.
Berkeley Castle, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, GL13 9BQ
Not for the faint-hearted, the world-famous Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake has been held for around 200 years every May. Whilst competitors chase an 8lb wheel of Double Gloucester cheese down the hillside, watching is the safest option. The tumbles and somersaults are spectacular and the first aid team are often rather busy.
Coopers Hill Brockworth, GL3 4SB
The mission: “The preservation, maintenance in good order and improvement of canals, navigable rivers and inland waterways for the use of the public” with the objective to restore the canals from Saul Junction at the western end to Lechlade in the east so linking the two great rivers of Thames and Severn. This will provide navigable links to the wider UK canal network”.
You can volunteer, donate, support, take a boat ride or just walk, jog or cycle the tow path and marvel in the engineering, countryside and beauty of the route.
There are lots of videos about the canal, try this one from 2015. What's interesting is how much work has been done since then.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSPUZTgjxhU&feature=emb_rel_end
Wallbridge Lock, Stroud, GL5 3JS
This gem is hidden away in the Sapperton Valley and sits on the Cotswold Canal towpath, this stretch is part of the Wysis Way. Pretty as a picture and cosy inside, there is a beer garden and even a campsite. Even if you don't want to walk far it's a very short walk into the woods to discover overgrown locks and pools, soon to be uncovered and brought back to life/
Dane Ln, Sapperton, GL7 6LN
1000 years of history in one small town.
A flourishing Market Town from the middle ages, the centre of agriculture for the Severn Vale and a producer of woollen cloth. Following the decline of wool was the rise of engineering. R.A. Lister became famous for agricultural machinery and engines and Mawdsley’s was well known for its electrical machinery.
At the end of the 19th Century Mikael Pedersen came to work for Lister’s and invented his distinctive bicycle, still admired to this day. A restored early example now holds pride of place in the Heritage Centre.
We have displays of machinery and small objects of interest, all made in Dursley, or with very close connections with the town, as well as books to browse and a large video screen showing local scenes and films.
Castle Street, Dursley, GL11 4BS
This Grade II listed building is the centrepiece of the town. The pillared market house, dating form Georgian times, contains the Town Hall stands above the Market Place and features a stature of Queen Anne and bell turret. Once a month you’ll find the Farmer’s Market held underneath.
Market Place Dursley, GL11
On the Cotswold Way Ozleworth's beautiful church near to Newark Park stands in a circular churchyard, suggesting perhaps a pre-Christian site. The irregular hexagonal tower rising almost from the centre of the building.It is Norman, and a little gem.
Ozleworth, Wotton-Under-Edge, GL12 7QA
Steve is a certified guide who can tailor a tour for you. Check out his web site for some ideas....
"I love telling visitors about the hidden gems:
Ghandi bought his glasses in Gloucester. The Golden Valley is the home to Damien Hurst's foundry. Walk in the footsteps of poet and author Laurie Lee. Poldark and Harry Potter filmed in the area. Stroud is home of the inventor of the lawn mower.
The last Private battle in England took place at Nibley Green. The last fatal pistol duel in England and so much more", Steve Roth.
10 miles south of Gloucester, near the River Severn, is the charming Frampton on Severn.
Home to a large village green, 22 acres in size and reputedly the longest in England, it was known as Rosamund's Green by the mid 17th century, apparently from the village's association with Fair Rosamund. The green has three ponds, two pubs and there is a sailing club tucked away at the far end.
The Domesday Book mentioned the manor of Frampton in 1089. The parish church of St Mary the Virgin was consecrated in 1315, but partly dates from the 12th century, while the congregational church was built in 1769. The designated Conservation Area around the green, includes Tudor and Georgian houses and the village also has a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Much of the village forms part of the Frampton Court Estate, owned by the Clifford family.
The Frampton Country fair is held here each year in September and draws large crowds from all over the UK. The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal runs to the west side of the village and Saul Junction is close by.
The Green, Frampton on Severn, GL2 7EP
Set in picturesque surroundings beside the River Frome, on the edge of Whitminster Village. Set in countryside just off the A38 and M5 Junction 13, it's easy to find but peaceful and relaxing.
Floral displays, a big mill pond and waterwheel and wildlife in abundance. Seating in three riverside gardens and a spacious interior.
FROMEBRIDGE LANE, WHITMINSTER, GL2 7PB
Explore the life of Georgian scientist Edward Jenner, the country doctor who changed the world, at his former home in the historic market town of Berkeley.
In 1798 he published the results of his investigations into the use of a mild disease, cowpox, to protect against the feared virus smallpox. Jenner devoted the rest of his life to helping others to carry out the practice that he called ‘vaccination’. This couldn't be more relevant today.
Discover the beautiful garden and Temple of Vaccinia, where you can reflect on the achievements of this remarkable man.
Church Ln, Berkeley, GL13 9BN
Wotton's collection of archives, records, photographs and genealogical research material housed in a converted fire station. Exhibitions throughout the year and display items of interest of local and national history, well worth a visit.
The Chipping, Wotton Under Edge, GL12 7AD
Opened in the 1860’s as a freight line to shift goods being produced in the Nailsworth Valley such as cloth, timber, dyes, arms and ammunition to name but a few. It was abandoned in the 1960’s.
The route from Nailsworth begins in a lovely wooded valley and follows the delightful Nailsworth stream, it makes a very pleasant easy walk or cycle. It links Nailsworth, Stroud and Stonehouse and is part of Sustrans route 45. A good place to start is the ex goods yard, now the car park for Egypt Mill hotel.
You can join it all along it's route of course, but in the Centre of Stroud it starts just South West of the "double roundabouts" or via a tunnel on the other side of the Sainsburys roundabout, near the Cotswold Way.
Stroud Rd, Nailsworth, GL6 0AE
A Grade I listed country house of Tudor hunting lodge origins with an estate of 700 acres on the Cotswold escarpment. National Trust since 1946. Built between 1544 and 1556 for Sir Nicholas Poyntz (d.1557). The house, gardens and walks, as well as a cuppa, good parking too. You might like to go and visit the Saxon Church in the neighbouring Ozelworth Estate too.
Ozleworth, Wotton-under-Edge, GL12 7PZ
This is a top 5 favourite of ours and it's free. You can drive to within a short slight uphill walk and be rewarded by fabulous 360 degree views across the Severn Vale to the Forest of Dean and north beyond Gloucester. It's about 283m or 920ft above sea level.
The Painswick Golf Course uses the hill fort and people walk, cycle, horse ride and picnic here. near the King Charles 1st, who on seeing the beautiful valley to the east, said "This must be Paradise". We won't argue with that.
The Wysis Way, linking Offa's Dyke Path National Trail at Monmouth to the beginning of the Thames Path National Trail in Gloucestershire, meets the Cotswold Way at Painswick Beacon.
It is also called Painswick Hill, Castle Godwin and Kimsbury Hill Fort. It has a long history, being first inhabited in the Iron Age as a hill fort between 500 and 100 BC. It is an impressive sight.
This is the country's sole surviving complete rococo garden. Designed in the 1740s as a fanciful pleasure garden for Benjamin Hyett and his guests, this hidden valley offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and intriguing garden buildings. Snowdrops and bluebells, lots of interest all year. A cafe too and just off the Cotswold Way.
Stockley Way, Painswick, GL6 6TH
The Abbey's history goes back to 681 in Gloucester, though the land at Prinknash was granted to the monks in 1096. After dissolution in 1539 it was a long wait until 1928 before the Benedictine Monks returned. Search for beautiful “chanting” on their web site, visit the cafe, buy their incense. Discover.
Painswick Road, Cranham, GL4 8EX
Also known as the Ship Graveyard. Ships, barges and other craft were sunk on the tin river bank between the Severn and the Ship canal between 1909 and 1965 to protect the shipping route to Gloucester. Now an important historical site and an easy flat walk, though beware going in poor weather and the trail can get muddy.
It can be a there and back walk or perhaps a loop too. Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL14
Purton, BERKELEY, GL13 9HU
Saul Junction is where the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal meets the Stroudwater Canal and was a great meeting place for ships and crew, boats and boaters from around the world. Today the junction is still popular and there are many lovely walks along the idyllic waterways. Nearby is Saul Junction Marina and Saul Junction Visitor Centre and a cafe too.
Walk in the footsteps of Cider with Rosie (which we recommend) author, Laurie Lee, as you explore the glorious, tranquil & hidden Slad valley. The Laurie Lee Wildlife Way is a beautiful 5-mile walking route, Countryfile Walk from 2018, or / and stop for lunch at much-loved The Woolpack Inn.
The Woolpack Inn, Slad, GL67QA
The Domesday Survey of AD 1086 records a priest in Painswick, so we assume that a church stood on this site in Saxon times. The first church building was probably built about 1040, added to in the Thirteenth century by the De Laci Family after the Norman Conquest. The Chapel was built in about 1377 and 1401. The tower was added in 1430, the Nave in 1480 and the sanctuary from 1546.
Around 1644 Royalist troops used cannon and firebombs to drive out the Parliamentarians quartered inside the church. There is graffiti on one of the columns left by one of the soldiers during the siege. Work continued through the 1700s and beyond.
The ninety nine yew trees and the unique ledger tombs date from the early eighteenth century.
New Street, Painswick, GL6 6UN
The Stroudwater canal walk from the Royal Geographical Society, along the towpath from Stroud to Stonehouse, tells the story of the Stroud Valley - from the past, present to the future. With plenty to observe along the way including mills, locks, bridges, warehouses, beautiful scenery and wildlife.
High on the valley side it’s in a semi derelict state. It includes fascinating memorials and a Victorian Chapel (shuttered). A nature reserve with pathways to explore. A leaflet detailing the history and wildlife is available on its web site, it’s worth a read.
Bisley Rd, Stroud, GL5 1HJ
Top 5 Historical Sights around Stroud Town Centre
Accessibility: Yes, but steep inclines
Duration: Approximately 45 minutes - 1 hour (why not stop for a coffee. or two?)
Picking just 5 sights is certainly a challenge. Our High Street contains buildings that originated from the 16th and 17th Centuries, though many were rebuilt or remodelled in later Georgian and Victorian times.
The trail starts from the Railway Station, on the Town side (London bound trains).
7.5 feet (2.3 m) high. The area has numerous prehistoric barrows and near by ornaments, flint and arrowheads have all been found. Supposedly the burial site of a Danish leader after a battle at Woeful Danes' Bottom. The nearby tumuli may be the graves of soldiers.
Minchinhampton Common, Minchinhampton
Positioned on a hill above the village of North Nibley it is dedicated to the martyr William Tyndale. His mission was to translate The Bible into English so that ordinary folk could read it for themselves rather than relying on priests for an interpretation. He was strangled and then burned at the stake as a heretic.
The monument which is 111 feet high was completed in 1866. The reward for climbing the 120 steps is a wonderful view 360 degree view of the Cotswolds, Berkeley Vale and the river Severn to the Black Mountains beyond.
Nibley Knoll, North Nibley, GL11 6DT
Also known as Hetty Pegler's Tump, one of our favourite local names, is a burial mound, or long barrow, built around 3,800 BC, towards the end of the Stone Age. There are 5 chambers and you can crawl inside to take a look (go carefully).
It's just off the Cotswold Way, between Coaley Peak and Uley Bury, and forms part of an ancient and fascinating landscape.
Driving through Uley towards Stroud, the road rises onto the escarpment (past the postcode / sat nav spot so ignore it from now). You'll pass the parking area for Uley Bury. Keep going and after the road levels out there is a big field on your left. You can see the mound in the far left corner. There is an unmarked entrance on the left off the road and space for a car or two.
Crawley Hill, Uley, GL11 5BH
It is an unfinished masterpiece. Building started about 1857, but stopped in the mid-1860s so all the secrets of the construction of the Mansion are visible. Designed by Benjamin Bucknall as a unique Gothic Revival house.
Well known for it's ghosts and breeding colonies of Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats, so book a tour, it's special.
Allow enough time to explore the valley and lakes too!
Nympsfield, Nailsworth, GL10 3TS
The Park is owned by National Trust. It's a secluded valley and home to the remains of an 18th- and 19th-century landscaped park, a Victorian mansion, a chain of five lakes fringed by woodland and pasture, and an abundance of wildlife. It's a place to revel in "getting lost".
There are 3 way marked walks: Boathouse, Explorers and Landscapes Walks and the house too (though check opening times and booking. See the separate entry on hotcotswolds.uk for a link.
Nympsfield, Nailsworth, GL10 3TS
A group of young adults from Wotton-under-Edge and its surrounding villages working closely with the Wotton Chamber of Trade to help the local economy. The project celebrates the unique ecosystem of Wotton.
"We've installed a set of beautiful waymarker posts in our local woodlands to show you the natural beauty of our home". Using a mobile phone, all ages can learn the creative story about our town and the landscape it sits in.
Chipping Car Park, Wotton-under-Edge, GL12 7BD
Fancy a walk with a theme? Then perhaps a wander around Wotton Under Edge looking for the Almshouses and reading about their history will be just what you're after.... and then a cuppa for your efforts?
If you are still in need of a challenge then perhaps a walk up the Cotswold Way to the Jubilee Clump. The details are on the Jubillee Clump walk page.
Tabemacle Pitch, Wotton Under Edge, GL12 7ED
The Wotton-Under-Edge Historical Society and Heritage Centre is housed in a converted fire station and located in The Chipping. There is always a display to enjoy (and tourist info available) and the centre contains a sizeable collection of archives, records, photographs and genealogical research material.
The Chipping, Wotton-Under-Edge, GL12 7AD