Stephanie Boon hiking on the South West Coast Smiling at the camera.

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Hailes Abbey ruins seen across a meadow

Hailes Abbey (And Other Side Trips On The Cotswold Way)

Hiking is usually about the landscape and immersing myself in Nature but hiking the Cotswold Way threw up a couple of surprises. There are 2 ‘side trips’ right on the trail that I never expected to take: Hailes Abbey and Dyrham Park. I visited Hailes Abbey in the middle of the day during a 30-degree heatwave and Dyrham Park before heading into Bath the next day. They both seemed like perfect timing – a chance to take it slow during the heat and to while away a few hours towards the end of the trail. I enjoyed visiting them both and if you’ve got some time, I highly recommend the ‘detour’.

Stephanie Boon eating fresh strawberries and scones at a picnic bench in Hailes Abbey grounds

Hailes Abbey – the perfect place for a picnic!

Hailes Abbey was the perfect place for a picnic in the sun. Somehow it doesn’t feel like you’ve left the trail at all. It’s all meadows and paths cut through the long grass. Even the abbey ruins have grass growing on them! (Apparently, this is a way of conserving the stone and protecting it from weather erosion. ‘Soft wall capping’ I think it was called.)

Dyrham Park, owned by the National Trust, is the complete opposite. It’s a big estate full of manicured lawns and flowerbeds, parkland, and of course the 17th-century mansion. A bit of a contrast to life in a one-person tent!

 

Hailes Abbey

 

A view across Hailes Abbey with the ruined arches and long wild grasses (and plants like yellow oxford ragwort) growing in front.

Meadows surround the ruins, benefitting wildlife and creating a sense of timelessness.

Hailes Abbey near Winchcombe, owned by English Heritage, is literally a step off the Cotswold Way – you get a glimpse of it as you approach. SP 05078 30088

It cost £8.50 on the door, or £6.90 if you book online. For that, you get access to the Abbey ruins and grounds and a wonderful small museum.

A view of Hailes Abbey ruins through a wall of stone arches

Display boards around the grounds evoke of Cistercian community

 

One of Haile's Abbey ruined arches, looking up with a blue sky and white clouds behind. There are wispy grasses growing on top of the arch

Fascinating arches with grasses growing on top for conservation

 

Hailes Abbey has plenty of places to sit: a wooden bench with my rucksack and umbrella places in front of an old stone wall with inset arches behind

Take a seat and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere

Dyrham Park

Dyrham Park near Bath. A view along a formal garden with bright coloured flowers on the left and standard trees on the right. The straight lawn leads the eye straight to the manor house.

A colourful approach to Dyrham house through the formal gardens

Hikers approach Dyrham Park (near Bath) from a short bridleway right on the Cotswold Way. ST 73992 75642

Admission is £13.00 and gives access to the house, garden, parkland, and of course the National Trust cafe and shop.

 

A view of a small courtyard at Dyrham mansion. The house has two stories built in limestone and there's a very green shrub climbing the walls around the windows. In the foreground is a circular, low box hedge filled with low plants. Looking up to the blue sky you can see the low roofs, chimneys and a stone balustrade.

A beautiful shaded courtyard – perfect for a rest in the heat!

 

A head on view of Dyrham mansion with a small church on the left. A straight, level path leads up between a tall hedge to steps at the front of the imposing house. The house has two stories with windows right across the facade and low, stumpy chimneys on the shallow roof.

The impressive 17th-century mansion, church, and formal gardens of Dyrham Park

 

Stephanie Boon in front of a stone statue of Neptune, standing on a plinth in grass with trees behind. Stephanie is mimicking the pose of the statue.

Neptune stands on the top of a very steep hill and once upon a time he spouted a cascade of water. Nowadays you just have to imagine how impressive it would have been to see it from the house.

Other Side Trips – Without Taking A Step Off The Trail

There’s so much to see on the Cotswold Way that doesn’t cost a penny. For example, Belas Knap Long Barrow or the sombre battlefields of Lansdown (1643), which really enrich the experience of a trail like this. It’s not just the landscape, geology, or quintessential villages (not forgetting the incredible architecture of Bath) that keep you engaged: the trail oozes with history. But there are a couple of other places you might like to buy a ticket for that I noticed along the way:

Broadway Tower

A tall tower with castellated turrets - a folly on the Cotswold Way

Broadway Tower looks gorgeous surrounded by flower meadows in the early morning sun.

There are spectacular views from the top of the tower – apparently. I don’t doubt it. And if I hadn’t been there at some ungodly hour of the morning I might be able to corroborate it!

Broadway Tower is privately owned, and there’s a cafe, shop and accommodation in the grounds – as well as a nuclear bunker!

Stanway House And Fountain

An ornate gateway building with three storeys of mullioned bay windows either side of a huge wooden gateway door. The roof is particularly ornate with stone shells topping three gables

The Jacobean gateway of Stanway House

At 300 feet high you can see Stanway Fountain from miles around. It’s turned on twice a day and it might well be worth visiting the Jacobean Manor and water gardens too. The manor is privately owned, “lived in by the same family since the 16th century”, and has limited opening hours during June, July and August. Check their website for details (link above).

Have you visited any of these historic properties? I’d love to hear what you think if you have. Would you recommend them too?

More From The Cotswold Way

Plan your hike with all my guides to this stunning national trail:

The Cotswold Way Ultimate Guide For Hikers. Stephanie Boon sitting outside the market hall in Chipping Campden

 

The Cotswolds. A beautiful 8-mile walk from Moreton-in-Marsh to the start of the Cotswold Way in ChippingChipping Campden highstreet. Campden. View over

Looking For Something Else?

Check out my latest adventures, or find inspiration from these amazing women hikers from all around the UK.

Happy hiking!

Stephie x

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