Alex’s Top Places To Go For A Dog Walk Around Cheltenham
Fantastic Dog Walks Around Cheltenham
Alex – Chiropractor and Clinic director in Cheltenham, loves a walk in the countryside whenever he gets a chance. In this blog, Alex talks through his favourite locations around Cheltenham to go for a dog walk.
Since moving to Cheltenham permanently back in 2018, I have fallen in love with the local countryside and parks in and around Cheltenham. When I first arrived in Cheltenham, I was very busy with work. One of the best ways I find to relax and still squeeze in some exercise is walking. Whilst being new to the area, I could not wait to explore. Before moving to Cheltenham, I had been living in Cambridge. The Cambridgeshire countryside is very pretty but the west country and the Cotswolds offers something different… hills! If you were one of my earlier patients, I’m sure I would have brought up the topic of local walks during treatments. We are so lucky at Skelian to have such lovely patients, many of whom gave me some great suggestions.
On the weekends, when I had some spare time, I could not wait to get my hiking boots on and get out of the house exploring what Cheltenham and the surrounding countryside had to offer. Accompanying myself and my partner would be her old family dog, Toby the English Pointer. He was about 13 years old at the time, so you could say his athletic years were behind him. Despite the mileage on the clock, Toby still loved a good walk every day, especially on a fresh spring or autumn walk. He even enjoyed drizzly cold and blustery walks during mid winter. Quoting Sir Ranulph Fiennes – “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”. Whilst on the subject of exploring and Ranulph Fiennes, I can highly recommend his autobiography, Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know. If you were to ask any of my patients about a great location to walk a dog around Cheltenham, there is usually one or two hills that come to mind and I could not agree more.
Cleeve hill or Leckhampton hill. If I had to pick one, this might be a bit controversial to some, but it would be Cleeve hill.
- Cleeve Hill Winchcombe, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 5AQ
A limestone grassland, standing at 330 meters or 1,083 feet above sea level. A very well known spot in Cheltenham, is top of my list for local dog walks around Cheltenham. Easy to get to, usually plenty of parking and great views. One of my first fond memories of Cheltenham is when we were in Cheltenham looking for a place to live before we moved from Cambridge. After a day looking around Cheltenham, someone had told us to go up onto Cleeve hill in the evening. At the time we did not have a clue what Cleeve hill had to offer. When we got there, we were greeted by an amazing vivid summer sunset. We legged it as fast as we could up the hill to catch the remaining spectacle of the sun setting behind the Malvern hills. If you have never been up Cleeve hill before, I highly recommend going around this time, to catch the stunning views, especially on a clear day, you might be lucky enough to even spot the Black Mountains of Wales.
When we have friends come stay with us in Cheltenham, this is always our “go to” location to show off what Cheltenham has to offer. What better place to go for a dog walk? On a dry day you should be fine to wear some sensible trainers to walk around the hill, but come the wetter months, hiking boots or wellies are highly recommended. Throughout the summer months, sheep graze on the grassy slopes of the hill. If you are walking your dog on Cleeve hill during this time, please make sure you keep an eye on your dog. When parking on Cleeve hill, you can either park up in one of the laybys or you can park up close to the golf course. They do close the car park next to the golf course at certain times, so just be aware of that.
- Belas Knap Winchcombe, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 5AL
This was a fantastic recommendation from one of my patients. Belas Knap itself is a Neolithic long barrow (burial site). It was Excavated in the 1860s, with the remains of 31 people found inside. Now the location is an English heritage site with a great circular walk back to the layby you park up at the start of the walk. The walk itself starts off in a small woodland area which then opens up into fields. Half a mile from where you park the car you will come across Belas Knap if you follow the path. If you carry on walking past the burial ground through the field it will then take you onto a path that will either lead you back to Cleeve hill on the Cotswold way or you can turn right into another field following the public footpath signs. This path takes you back into more woodland and down a steep hill. Once you get through the woodland it will take to you a farm, you then follow the road back towards where you parked your car. It is only a short walk but the dogs love it. Every time I’ve walked along this track, I’ve seen plenty of wildlife, from pheasants, rabbits and deer to even birds of prey. If you are into a bit of animal watching, definitely worth bringing along your binoculars to get a better look at what is going on around you. Similar to Cleeve hill, in the summertime when the ground is dry, a good pair of trainers will suit you well, when it gets a bit wet and muddy, hiking boots or wellies are recommended.
- Leckhampton Hill, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53 9QG
As stated previously in this blog, when you ask the people of Cheltenham were to walk Leckhampton hill is definitely one of the first locations that are mentioned. Leckhampton hill might be Cleeve hill’s biggest rival for views over Cheltenham. Plenty of dog owners take their dogs up to this hill and for good reason. There is lots of parking at the start of the walk, where you then walk up through a woodland area until you get to the top of the hill, where if you are lucky you may stumble across some cows chewing on the grass. As before a decent pair of trainers under dry conditions will probably be more than enough to get you up and down the hill. When it is a bit wetter, walking boots are advised.
- Pittville Park East Approach Drive, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL52 3JE
If you live in Cheltenham, there is a good chance that you have probably already been to Pittville park. This is one of our favourite places to take the dog for a walk, it is so close to the Skelian Clinic and also because it is such a nice park to walk around. First opened in 1825, Pittville is the largest grade II listed ornamental park in Cheltenham alongside the grade I listed Pump Room. There is a lovely lake to walk around in the larger section of the park. You can also find the Boathouse Café, which is a great place to get a coffee to go or sit next to the lake. Not only is this park great for dog walks, but there are also some “non dog” related activities such as the Cheltenham Park Run https://www.parkrun.org.uk/cheltenham/ . During the covid-19 pandemic, lots of people have used this space to help keep fit. You can walk around Pittville in a fairly leisurely manner, so it is a great place to go outside and relax right in the heart of Cheltenham.
- Cheltenham Racecourse – Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 4SH
When I first moved to Cheltenham, I did not know that you could go for a walk around the racecourse in Cheltenham. This was a great suggestion by one of the receptionists at Skelian who also has a dog. The racecourse offers lots of parking in the main car park or you can park around the back of the site next to the Cheltenham Archery Club. Many dog walkers walk around the racecourse, so it is probably the most “dog friendly” place out of all the locations mentioned in this blog. I find it is a great location to go for an evening stroll with the dog, on some clear nights you can even see the Malvern hills in the distance. There is even a large pond between the racecourse and Ellenborough Park hotel, which is great if your dog enjoys a dip in the water.
- Sudeley Castle Winchcombe, Near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 5JD
Sudeley Castle, steeped in history, is located just on the outskirts of Cheltenham and is surrounded by some truly beautiful countryside and farmland. Sudeley Castle itself has some rules regarding dog walking, but if you are keen to go for an explore then there are plenty of circular walks around the castle itself. There are plenty of public footpaths to discover and walk along taking in the fantastic views. When we go for a walk, we tend to park up alongside the road in front of the castle which is just off of the main road through Winchcombe. If you are going to take a dog along one of the circular walks, please be aware of the local livestock and make sure you wear some decent footwear to help tackle the hills and the fields.
There you have it, those are my top dog walks in and around Cheltenham. If you have lived in Cheltenham for a while, the locations are probably not a huge surprise. As a fairly recent newbie to Cheltenham they have made a very positive impression on me. Being a chiropractor, I know all too well the benefits of going for a walk and we are so lucky that we have so many places to choose from whilst living in Cheltenham.