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Rudge Hill is also probably better known as Edge Common (and registered as an SSSI under this name). The reserve was renamed when it became part of the Cotswold Commons and Beach Woods National Nature Reserve. The walk start from the Leisure Centre car park in Stroud and surprisingly quickly leaves the town behind to follow a low ridge up towards Painswick. After crossing meadow and arable farm land with good views over towards Whiteshill and Randwick, we join the Cotswold way, coming south from Painswick and climb through vary varied woodland and farmland to Edge Common - now also designated as "Rudge Hill Nature Reserve". In Spring and early Summer you can get fine displays of orchids on the unimproved grassland, plus excellent views back towards Painswick.

Painswick from Edge Common

Painswick from Edge Common

 

This is a longer walk of about 11 km/7m with a climb of 280m/900', so although I sometimes do it as a morning walk, taking about 2.5 hours at a steady pace, a later start and leisurly progress gives a good excuse for a picnic - and Edge Common is the best place to pause. After Edge Common, we have a short stretch through classic Cotswold Beach woods and then descend over meadows and woodland to join the top of Stratford Park. There are a couple of minor variation that can be used to give a bit of variety on later repetitions. (In fact, there are many potential variation, only some of which I have yet explored. All the ones I have tried have their own merits.)

The map also shows a long 6km/3.5m extension that continues along the Cotswold Way round to Haresfield Beacon, and turns the walk into a definite full-day affair - probably with lunch on Harefield Beacon - which makes a very fine round with a lot of variety for those of you who are regular and reasonably fit walkers. (I have done even longer variations on a fresh summer day when it seemed a shame to finish the walk: on days like that I sometimes take a map out with only the vaguest plan for the walk, other than a general direction of travel, and trying some new combination of paths. I then carry on - making it up as I go - until my legs tell me it is time to find my way home. This long extension continues to follow the Cotswold Way on to the woods above Randwick, and then working my way back to Stroud across the valley. If you have the fitness and competence to tackle this last variation you do not need me to tell you how to plan the route.)

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Category: Longer Walks