Exploring a section of the Cotswold Way national trail, the walk from Coaley Peak to Selsley Common offers peaceful woods, enchanting valleys and above all, glorious scenery. Located south of Stroud, the walk follows the edge of the Cotswold escarpment and features striking views of the Cotswold Hills, the Severn Valley, the Forest of Dean, the Brecon Beacons and Wales. This Cotswold walk then explores serene woods and dips into a charming valley before climbing back up to the wild landscape of Selsley Common.
The section of the Cotswold Way from Coaley Peak to Selsley Common is characteristic of the South Cotswolds. Walking along the edge of the escarpment, enjoying glorious views of the Cotswold Hills and beyond, and escaping to the depths of ancient woodland allows you to discover all the South Cotswolds have to offer.
Location: Nympsfield, Gloucestershire
Walk difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 3 to 3 ½ hours
Distance: 7 miles (11.2 km)
Enjoy glorious views from Coaley Peak and Frocester Hill
The Coaley Peak to Selsley Common walk starts at the Coaley Peak car park (free at the time of writing). Alternatively you can also start the walk at Selsley Common, which is closer to Stroud and also offers free parking. Coaley Peak is one of the summits along the Cotswold escarpment. The peak enjoys magnificent views of the Cotswold hills and valleys, the Severn Vale, theForest of Dean and the Brecon Beacons.
From Coaley Peak, I would recommend a short detour to Frocester Hill, another summit along the Cotswold escarpment. Frocester Hill is a 5-minute walk to the south of Coaley Peak, and is indicated by a stone marker. From Frocester Hill, you can enjoy further glorious views reaching out for miles.
Back at Coaley Peak, the walk heads north along the Cotswold Way towards Stroud. Since this walk keeps to the Cotswold Way, you simply follow the signposts for the Cotswold Way. The Coaley Peak to Selsley Common walk first crosses Nympsfield Long Barrow, Neolithic burial chambers, before exploring serene woodland.
Escape to peaceful woodland in Stanley and Pen Woods
The first stretch of the walk in Stanley Wood follows the road before smoothly descending to the bottom of the valley. Walking along small lanes and wider paths hugged by tall trees, the peaceful walk takes you to the heart of the woodland.
As you reach the bottom of the valley, you emerge from the woods and step into an enchanting valley. The opening in the trees is unexpected and the wonderful scenery greeting you even more so. From the bottom of the valley, you can enjoy glorious views of the small hamlets dotted across the landscape, the rolling hills and the Severn Vale.
The Coaley Peak to Selsley Common walk then leads you across two fields housing cattle and along a small lane hugging woodland before entering Pen Wood. After a short distance and some gardens and cottages, you come to a crossroad. At the crossroads, be sure to follow the sign for the Cotswold Way via Selsley Common. You then start the steep ascent through the heart of the woods back to the top of the escarpment and Selsley Common.
Explore wild scenery at Selsley Common
As you emerge from the woods into Selsley Common, you are greeted by further amazing views of the Stroud valley, the Cotswold hills, the Severn Vale, the Brecon Beacons and Wales. You will find the Coaley Peak to Selsley Common walk offers a wide variety of scenery, from glorious viewpoints to peaceful woodland, enchanting valleys and, finally, wild common.
The walk continues along the Cotswold Way across Selsley Common. The wild grass and undulating landscape of the common may seem daunting, but thankfully the Cotswold Way is well marked by signposts dotted across the open land. If you do not know the common well, I would not encourage you to venture off the Cotswold Way trail.
The only tricky part of the walk is when you reach the mounds on your left. The next Cotswold Way signpost is hidden. You should go over or around the mound and you will spot the signpost to the left of a flourishing tree. The trail then leads you down the hill.
When you reach the edge of Selsley Common, this is the halfway point. The walk goes back along the same route, following the Cotswold Way, to Coaley Peak. Before you make your way back, you can enjoy a well-deserved break in Selsley Common. The park is a perfect picnic spot and ideal for flying kites.
Coaley Peak to Selsley Common walk itinerary
0. Recommended detour to Frocester Hill: From the Coaley Peak car park, take the path on your left and walk along the edge of the escarpment. Go through the kissing gate and veer right. At the stone marker you’ve reached Frocester Hill. Retrace your steps to the car park to commence the walk.
1. From the Coaley Peak car park, take the path on your right. Walk past Nympsfield Long Barrow (Neolithic burial chambers) and fork right at the Y junction, following the signpost for the Cotswold Way and aiming for the woods. You’ll follow the signposts for the Cotswold Way throughout this walk.
2. Go through the kissing gate and fork left at the Y junction. After a short flight of steps, continue straight ahead at the crossroads and go through the second kissing gate. Fork left again and go through the following kissing gate.
3. At the next kissing gate, follow the path on the right, keeping the wooden fence to your right. At the crossroads, continue straight ahead along the main path, then further along fork left. Continue straight ahead at the following crossroads and go through the kissing gate.
4. As you emerge from the woods, follow the dirt path bordering the woods through the fields. Continue along the man-made path and cross over two stiles.
5. When you reach the metal gate at the end of the path, take the ascending trail on your right. Continue along the main path, which then turns into a small windy path.
6. After descending wooden steps, continue straight ahead at the crossroads, following the signpost for the Cotswold Way via Selsley Common, and go through the kissing gate. Go down further steps, cross over the stile and follow the path on your right.
7. Cross the road straight ahead to the big woodland alley and follow the path as it arcs round. Veer right to a very steep path. At the top of the hill, go through the kissing gate and continue along the path straight ahead.
8. As you emerge from the woods onto Selsley Common, follow the signposts for the Cotswold Way dotted across the common. When you reach one, you will see the next signpost.
9. When you reach mounds on your left, go either over the top or to the right of the mounds (beware the trail is not well indicated here). Aim for the signpost to the left of the tree and follow the signposts down the hill.
10. When you reach the edge of Selsley Common, turn round and retrace your steps back the way you came to Coaley Peak, still following the signposts for the Cotswold Way.
Download the walk itinerary PDF: Coaley Peak to Selsley Common walk by adragonsescape.com
Find the walk map and download the GPX file: Coaley Peak to Selsley Common walk on outdooractive.com
Coaley Peak to Selsley Common walk details
Location: Nympsfield, Gloucestershire
Time: Approximately 3 to 3 ½ hours with regular stops
Distance: 7 miles (11.2 km)
Ascent: Somewhat steep
Trail condition: Good, but muddy in the heart of the woods.
Accessibility: Not suitable for pushchairs, wheelchairs or bikes.
Parking: Coaley Peak car park (GL10 3TP)
Facilities: Toilets, shops and pubs in Nympsfield and Selsley
Notes: Please be mindful of livestock and keep your dogs on a lead.
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