10 Best Things To Do
There’s plenty to do without leaving the farm, from rambling across the feels and exploring the woodland to simply sitting and looking at the views. For the adventurous a canal runs along the edge of the farm, leading to the nearby town of Stroud, home to a thriving arts scene and a bustling farmer’s market. A 20 minute walk across the fields takes you to the nearest pub, The Crown at Frampton Mansell, a quintessential open-beamed Cotswolds inn where you can sit outside and watch the sun go down over the hills. Close by is the historic open common of Minchinhampton, where cows graze across the golf links. Further afield is the Roman market town of Cirencester. To help you plan, here are some highlights:
1. Take a hike
We’re in the Cotswolds, set in an area of outstanding natural beauty. There are several walks that start and end on the farm passing country pubs and cafes on the way. You can explore the canal that used to connect the rivers Severn and Thames, or discover the ruins of an abandoned mill. Or just go for a ramble.
The path around the edge of Aston Down airfield is punctuated by pillboxes from World War 2 and you may also find evidence of road blocks and anti-tank emplacements from the war too.
Minchinhampton Common has Bronze Age field boundaries, an Iron Age enclosure and lots of small quarry pits in addition to the landscaping of the golf course. This is where you will also find Winstone’s Ice Cream factory. The common is one of the few that are still grazed by horses and cattle owned by “commoners” – you will see them strolling through the village occasionally (that’s the cattle, not the commoners).
2. Take flight
Across the main road at the end of the drive, Aston Down hosts the Cotswold Gliding Club. You can book a trial flight and see the landscape from the air.
3. Run away to the circus
Every summer, the near-legendary Gifford Circus, based just outside Stroud, pitches up on the nearby common to delight with its eccentric mix of the unusual and the improbable. Not to be missed. http://www.giffordscircus.com/
4. Swing a club
Westley Farm is a great base for the keen golfer. A couple of miles away lies Minchinhampton Golf Club offering two of the finest courses in the region, as well as a unique links-style course on Minchinhampton Common, where the traditional traps and bunkers are joined by the unexpected challenge of cattle roaming across the fairways.
5. Get on your horse
Bareback or in the saddle, we’ll take novices and more experienced riders on a trek through the woods on our three steady ponies, Sailor, Carrot and Rolo. We might even get as far as the pub. Please book in advance.
6. Go down the pub
There’s a wonderful selection of traditional and less traditional pubs nearby. The closest, a 20-minute walk (15 if you’re thirsty) is the Crown Inn at Frampton Mansell, serving good pub food, excellent beer and lovely views. A 30-minute walk along the canal at the bottom of the woods is the Daneway, a lovely canalside pub made from a row of cottages originally built for canal workers. A five minute drive will get you to the Bell at Sapperton, a gastro-pub with excellent food. Two miles in the other direction towards Minchinhampton is the Ragged Cot, while the Old Lodge is in a dramatic setting on top of the common. Favourites a little further away, but still less than a 10 minute drive, are the Woolpack Inn in Slad, home to Laurie Lee and the setting for Cider with Rosie, and the Black Horse in Amberley.
7. Take a dip
For the adventurous, consider a trip to the outdoor pool at Cirencester, 7 miles away, or make a day of it at the Cotswold Water Park, where your inner adventurer can indulge in everything from wakeboarding to angling. http://www.waterpark.org/ Water activities of a gentler nature can be seen at the Slimbridge Wetland Centre. https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/
8. Grab a bite
Most of the eating out takes place in the local pubs, but if you want to buy provisions, our favourite place is the wonderful Woefuldane Organic Dairy a couple of miles away in Minchinhampton, where you can buy milk, cheese, eggs and more from their farm. Even closer is the Jolly Nice Farmshop and Deli, where you’ll find a classy range of excellent local produce, fab coffee and great cooked food. If you’re here at the weekend, you have to visit the farmers’ market in Stroud, regularly named the best in the country, where you can buy everything and anything, and have a great time people watching too. And while you’re in Stroud, visit the Stroud Brewery for beer and pizza, and the amazing Stroud Wine Company, a new independent arrival with a great range of wines and beers. Stroud also has an outpost of the award-winning Simpsons Fish and Chip shop. Oh, and the best pizza this side of the Alps? Fat Toni’s in Stroud, run by first and second generation Italians in Stroud using the family sourdough recipe takes some beating
9. See the sights
You’ll be within easy reach of the Cotswold gems of Bourton on the Water, Moreton in Marsh, Stow on the Wold – all about 45 minutes away – as well as the nearby “Queen of the Cotswolds”, Painswick. The Roman market town of Cirencester, with its imposing church and array of boutiques and delis is 7 miles away, while Stroud just 4 miles away boasts the nation’s premier farmers’ market, as well as a vibrant cultural scene. Gloucester with its majestic cathedral is 40 minutes away, as is the Regency spa town of Cheltenham. If you want to see proper history, peek at the room where Edward II was held and reputedly murdered in Berkeley Castle http://www.berkeley-castle.com/, or enjoy the sumptuous setting of Sudeley Castle https://www.sudeleycastle.co.uk/, where Henry VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr, is buried. Both are a 40 minute drive.
10. On yer bike (electric bike hire)
Hire an electric bike – OK, it sounds soft, but we are in the Five Valleys – from pedegocotswolds.com and follow one of their Cotswold Treasure Trails for a memorable day.