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Haresfield Beacon and Standish Woods

Driving up a steep country lane towards Haresfield Beacon National Trust car park, I look to my right to notice an obscured view of the Cotswolds. This becomes somewhat more clear as I drive into the car park on arrival, which appears to be very busy given it is a Saturday. Instead, I park up on the side of the road and ready myself to embark on a hike that will take me through Standish Woods.

A jeep in the car park serves tea and coffee to all dog walkers, bikers, and hikers who need a beverage. If I can return in time to treat myself to a rewarding coffee, this would be a perfect end to the hike. Considering this, I begin my hike toward Standish Woods, hoping to return before the jeep packs up for the day.

The jeep selling beverages at Haresfield Beacon Car Park

During this mile-long walk to Robbers Road, I pass a clearing to my right with further views of the Cotswolds below. This also stretches out to the Severn Valley in the distance, where views of Wales can be discovered. I spend a minute looking out at this view before following the path further to the first destination on this hike. The cascading woodland surrounds me as I walk towards the Robbers Road exit.

Having approached this exit, a path veering off to the right also makes itself known. Knowing that the left path will take me out to Robbers Road, I proceed along the path to the right, heading deeper into Standish Woods. The trees surrounding the path become thicker and make me wonder if I am following the right path displayed on my map.

Hiking through Standish Woods, towards Robbers Road

The confusion kicks in, and I follow the path towards a mountain biking area. The trees continue to surround me as I wander around them, trying to figure out the best route to get back on the right path. I hike up a short but steep hill on my right and spot the path that I should have been taking to begin with. Having re-joined this, it continues to a car park on Ash Lane, where panoramic views overlook the Severn Vale.

I pause to take in the beauty of these views while hearing the cows mooing in a field directly behind me. They certainly are lucky to be waking up to this view every day, as would any driver who parks up here for the night to wake up to a Cotswold sunrise view.

The panoramic view overlooking the Severn Vale

Proceeding a few hundred metres down Ash Lane, another woodland path comes into view on the right. Upon taking it, I pass a green metal gate open to hikers wanting to progress through Standish Woods. This is where the confusion truly begins as I slowly approach paths in two directions. One direction leads to a private farm, and the other resembles a tight squeeze. It seems the only way forward is going through the tight squeeze, which takes me through to Standish Park Estate and the village of Arlebrook.

My map does not clearly indicate the next segment of the hike. I scour all corners of Arlebrook while walking up Vinegar Hill and across acres of private fields; I wander around, hoping for an exit to make itself known. I can sense my map laughing at and taunting me, given that I cannot work it out.

One of the private fields I walked along (lucky I didn't get caught!)

Having checked all corners of this village, I follow a track leading to another field. My boots squelch into the mud surprise that the field provides, up until a gate on the other side leading to Gloucester Road. This is a road that I may as well follow to retaliate against the trap that the map set for me previously.

This road leads me through Standish Village around a right-hand bend and then runs parallel to a train track on the right. Approaching a T-junction, I make another right turn to head closer to the train track, with the road bending to the left to walk parallel with it once more. After fifteen minutes of strolling along this road, I reach a suitable point to have a break at The Beacon Inn in Haresfield.

Waiting for my chance to cross the rail track to The Beacon Inn

The road becomes recognisable from when I drove along it earlier to the hike’s starting point. As I drove up it earlier, I thought it wouldn’t come to me having to hike up it towards the end. Nevertheless, given the many unintentional detours I have taken on this route, I am keen to finish this hike once and for all.

The steep climb on this final segment begins, and I am feeling the strain in my legs. A horse rider is in front of me, trotting up the hill without having to do any work. “Oh, to be a horse rider right now,” I think to myself as I continue to pump my legs up the sharp hill. I am keeping myself topped up on fluids as much as I can, eager to get to the right turn I need to make. Eventually, I make it to this right turn, which presents another steep incline, slightly more vertical than the road.

Every step means I am getting closer to Haresfield Beacon, and sure enough, I finally make it to the Beacon that I have been craving to see since the hike began. And what a picturesque view it is, as I slowly look from my left to my right, admiring the beauty of this Cotswold area. I stand beside this beacon, feeling almighty after such a clamber up what feels like a whole mountain.

The view of only a tiny segment of the Cotswolds

A grassy path leads me back to the road on which I scaled up previously, and shortly afterwards, to my instant relief, the starting point presents itself. After hours and hours of trying to work out my route, I find myself back at this starting point… Alas, too late for me to purchase the coffee I so crave!

The Travelling Foodie’s Facts and Figures

·        Haresfield Beacon and Standish Woods are properties owned by The National Trust and have free access to all hikers, bikers, and dog walkers.

·        You can Click Here to find the map I followed for this hike; however, be warned that it doesn’t give clear directions just over its halfway point.

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