Cotswolds Adventures - Part 2
Updated: Aug 30, 2021
Part 2 of my Cotswolds adventures was a route that took me to the summit of Pope's Wood, located in the district of Stroud, Gloucestershire.
Pope's Wood is part of the Cotswold Commons and Beechwoods NNR, which is the largest nature reserve in the Cotswolds. It is largely made up of a chain of beechwoods and limestone grasslands around the upper slopes of the Painswick Valley.
The iconic Cotswolds Way runs through Pope's Wood and I have had the pleasure of running parts of this would route last year but I am hoping to take on a much larger section of it next year.
The below map shows the location of Pope's Wood, there are some beautiful walking and running trails throughout the whole area to explore, I was only traversing a very small part of this vast area. In fact every time I run in these hills I spot another area that I haven't even begun to explore, that's the magic of the Cotswolds.
The route I chose took me from my hotel starting point in Matson out through Sneedhams Green and across the M5 motorway.
Almost instantly the route then begins to climb, gradually at first through farmers fields and public footpaths, and then in to Piccadilly Woods, where you quickly climb to about 210 meters. Up to this point the footing is a mixture of tarmac, grassy fields, mud (hard and soft), and woodland.
Upon leaving Piccadilly Woods the route then flows across more farm land, with a few country roads in there as well, before arriving at Pope's Wood.
There is a nice climb before reaching Pope's Wood up to about 220 meters, this levels off as you hit the trails in the woods.
The section through Pope's Wood is a bit up and down with some flat sections which allow some fluency in your running, which is not the case at the start of the route.
The route loops through the woods and then crosses through the Painswick Golf Course, this is where you come to the summit of Pope's Wood, topping out at 240 meters vert, it is certainly the most scenic part of the course overall with stunning views all around.
The footing here is a mixture of woodland, grass, compact mud, loose gravel and small rocks, so it does get a bit tricky in places and you have to watch your ankles on the uneven surfaces.
After reaching the summit there is a steep (semi-technical) decent which eventually takes you down to about 140 meters, most of the running now is through farmers fields and public foot paths.
The route drops to 120 meters before one final climb up to 190-200 meters close to the village of Edge, this climb is mostly tarmac under foot, it makes the climb easier but the legs suffer all the same.
The route then steadily declines down to the village of Brookthorpe, again traversing farm land and public footpaths, which take you back across the M5 via a little tunnel and gravel footpath.
The route from this point takes you via a mud track that runs parallel to the M5 and on to a short service road before arriving back in to Sneedhams Green and the village of Matson.
When I mapped out this route on the alltrails.com website it totalled around 10 miles, however getting lost and pick up wrong trails added on an additional 3 miles, which actually made the course better for the most part.
I ran this course in good sunny weather so although the footing was tricky at times it was still mostly dry, other than some morning dew in the long grass through some of the fields. This course would however be a lot tougher in the wet, the farmers fields would be very boggy and the footing would offer a lot less traction.
The climbes and decents on this course are no joke, they require good grip from your trail shoes, so it is imperative you choose your shoes wisely. Due to the nature of the mixed terrain it is also useful to wear shoes that cross over well.
I was wearing my Suncony Xodus 11 shoes again for this run, but equally the Sauncony Peregrine would have been excellent for this course, or a similar shoe like the Hoka One One Torrent 2.
All in all a very nice adventure in the Cotswolds again and I am looking forward to bringing you part 3 very soon.
You can check out all the details of my run on Strava, just head to the home page of this website and find the Strava pop up at the bottom of the page.
For more on Pope's Wood and Cotswolds Commons and Beechwood NNR, see the below link.