In the UK we often forget how many beautiful towns there are in our country! On Sunday (1/9/2019) we decided to go and explore a small part of the Cotswolds. The most famous walking route in this area is the Cotswold Way totals 102 miles from Bath to Chipping Camden. My boyfriend and I want to walk the entire route one day, but we thought we’d ease ourselves into it.
Today we embarked on the Cotswold canals walk from Stroud to Stonehouse, this is a gentle 3,5 mile walk along the towpath. There is a detailed guide of the walk available here and this contains the route you need including some nice information about the sights along the way. I thought it would be nice to write a review of the walk, as I found it quite hard to find a personal review about the walk online. We started off in Stroud and walked to Stonehouse, but you can of course also do the walk the other way around – just read my article from bottom to top in that case 😉
Stroud – the start of the route
First we took the train to Stroud and had a short walk around the town and to grab a coffee. We live in Gloucestershire but had never actually been to Stroud before! I was so pleasantly surprised, it is a lovely town and has a very countryside feel to it! There are some nice coffee places and shops to have a wander around. The town centre is surprisingly easy to navigate as there are direction sings everywhere!
We made our way to the visitor centre situated next to a lovely dock and café! It has a friendly vibe to it and the ladies in the visitor centre reaffirmed this – they were so nice and helpful. They gave us a free map and the first directions and then we set off.
Some general information about the walk:
- I found the guide really helpful as it has detailed information on what you see on the way and general information about the walk and the area.
- The path is wheel- and pushchair accessible. Although some bits have small rocks and it might get a bit muddy after rain. Please be mindful with small kids as the walk is along the water!
- Dogs are welcome, but need to be ‘controlled’. We saw lots of dogs off the lead on this walk so this would be down to the trust you have in your dog.
- When you exit the visitor centre, cross the bridge and take a right straight away along the water. You need to go through a small tunnel and that’s the beginning of the walk.
- You don’t necessarily need to visit the visitor centre, but we would recommend this to make sure the path is completely open and accessible. Check their latest information and opening times here.
Off we go!
The complete route is along the water so it is really easy to find your way around – unless you stray off the towpath you won’t get lost! Immediately the greenery makes you feel at peace. Luckily the weather was in our favour and it was quite sunny so this made the green colour really stand out.
The first sight on the walk is Lodgemore Mills, this is a textile factory. I won’t ‘bore’ you too much with historical information about all the sights, you can find this is in the pdf if you have downloaded this. Along the path there is lots of green, water and wildlife which is lovely if you feel like you need some fresh air. I was surprised by how well-kept the path is, the trust looks after it well.
About 20 minutes in to the walk you find an open park on the left hand side of the path. It has a small playground for kids and one of those ziplines you can stand/sit on. We had to resist not having a go ourselves! The park also has a couple of picnic tables by the playground which is ideal if you’re undertaking the walk as a family with kids and fancy a break.
Time to refuel!
Ebley itself is a lovely little village which you walk up to via the bridge with Ebley Mill on your left. Along the path are some really cute houses (I’ll take the one with the pink door!) and new build flats that wouldn’t be a bad place to live at all. Just past the mill you can cross a lock bridge and that brings you into the little village square called Ebley Wharf. The word ‘square’ might sound a bit overrated when you actually see it; there is a hairdresser, bar and that’s about it.
But we needed a short break and Kitsch Coffee & Wine bar is a great spot for this on your walk! They serve food too in case you get a bit peckish on your adventure. We enjoyed a glass of wine with view of the wharf and Ebley Mill.
Part two of the walk
All refuelled and ready to go we continued our journey! We definitely found the ‘second part’ of the walk nicer – more greenery, blackberries, cute houses and lots and lots of locks. I think on the complete route we counted no less than 15 locks! It would be great to take your narrowboat down the canal here, but the locks would be a lot of work!
The canal side cottages are really cute and you might find some eggs for sale on the way at Jacob’s Cottage. Sadly we were unlucky – “no eggs today – sorry!”. Along this part of the walk you also find Boatmobility where you can hire boats may you wish to do so. It was a nice day but very surprisingly we only saw one canoe on our way. We did encounter quite a lot of walkers, runners and cyclists along the path which I thought was really nice.
The last leg
When you get past Boatmobility it should take you about twenty more minutes to get to Stonehouse. We decided to pop into the town, which was easy to find from the towpath. Cross the Ocean Bridge and take a left. Continue down the road, cross the pedestrian crossing to your right and walk down Bath Road.
We had a drink at the local pub – the Woolpack Inn, which will soon be on our left if you continue down Bath Road. When we were there (1/9/2019) the pub had just been taken over by new management and they sadly weren’t serving any food until later in the month. Seeing as we were now really hungry, we had a browse around the town centre. I will be honest, the town centre is not the nicest of the Cotswolds villages but it’s worth a look around! Weirdly the High Street Medical Centre is one of the most impressive buildings in the town.
If you are staying in Stonehouse or are, like we were, on the hunt for some food, take a short walk to the Stonehouse Court Hotel. A beautiful English country-style hotel that will make you feel at home. We were just in time to enjoy the last half an hour of the sunshine in the garden with a well-deserved glass of wine. I ordered a mushroom pasta, one of the only vegetarian mains on the menu (together with a burger: classic/boring vegetarian option that I didn’t really fancy). It was very tasty, but at £18 I thought it was a bit expensive – even for a hotel. After our dinner we walked to the train station and took the train back home.
I used my FitBit to track steps and activity and gosh, the numbers don’t lie. With over 22,000 steps in my legs it comes to no surprise they needed a little rest after the walk. All in all, a great day out! My overall thoughts of the walk are really positive, it is a beautiful route with gorgeous scenery and both Stroud and Stonehouse are nice places to spend some time. I was really impressed with how well-kept the path was and it is definitely accessible for all members of the family. Would definitely do this walk again!