Journey around the West Cotswolds part 1

26th August 2017

A few weeks ago I had a little excursion over to the West Cotswolds, around the Stroud area, as it was one of the few areas of the Cotswolds that I hadn’t spent much time. Unlike the gentle rolling landscape that is familiar Cotswold terrain, the west is marked by a steep escarpment down to the Severn Valley. This is known as the Cotswold escarpment, or the Cotswold Edge, and is a result of the uplifting (tilting) of the limestone layer, exposing its broken edge.

As a result, the villages and towns that reside here are so well nestled into the steep, undulating terrain, that from a distance, they often have the appearance of looking like they have grown directly from the earth, and are a natural part of the topography.

My first stop was in the beautiful town of Painswick, which first appeared in the Domesday Book, as Painswik, probably named for an earlier lord of the manor, Pain Fitzjohn, one of King Henry I ‘new men’ and who also owned Ludlow Castle in Shropshire.

One of England’s oldest wool towns, and sitting on a hilltop, it is one of the best preserved settlements in the Cotswolds. Built from the mellow honey-coloured stone from nearby Painswick Beacon, the town justifies its name as ‘The Queen of the Cotswolds’.

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