Taking place at the summit of Dover’s Hill and older than the Olympics proper, the Cotswold Olimpicks is an annual tournament of rural games that dates back to 1612 and includes events such as shin-kicking and tug-of-war.
The occasion is heightened by the drama of the setting. Dover’s Hill – named after Robert Dover, the Games’ founder – is one of the highest points on the Cotswolds scarp. It is a breezy, knobbly, thistly hulk of a hill, gnawed by sheep and granting colossal views over the Vale of Evesham.
A fine way to see it is on this (sometimes steep) National Trails-endorsed circular walk from Chipping Campden.
A moderate-level circular walk the summit of Dover’s Hill in the Cotswolds.
3.7 miles/6 km | 2-3 hours | moderate
1. Cotswold charm
Starting among High Street’s butterscotch stones, follow Cotswold Way signs out of town, taking the turning next to the church up Hoo Lane. Look out for the blue plaque at Little Orchard Cottage, where Graham Greene lived.
Hoo Lane becomes an unsealed track, then reaches Kingcomb Lane. Head 100m left, before crossing the road and turning right up a narrow, blackthorn-edged path. Keep climbing to meet a kissing gate, the entry point to Dover’s Hill.
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2. To the woods
Continue ahead, following a line of sycamores. Where a drystone wall meets a gate, head through it, then take the left path through a small wood. Two more gates soon appear; take the gate on the left then continue downhill, fence on your right, into Lynches Wood. Among spindly ash and huge sweet chestnuts, the slopes are terraced – a feature said to date to Roman times.
3. Perfect panorama
The path loops left through the trees, reaching a flight of woodland steps back up on to the hillside. Enter the gate then carry on uphill with the trees on your right. When the woods run out, make a short ascent to the hill summit. Take in the soul-lifting views then follow the earlier path back to town.
Words: Ben Lerwill