Nine towns and villages across the Cotswolds National Landscape will welcome new interpretation panels this week – highlighting 37 walking and cycling routes which allow people to explore the countryside around each location. Led by the team at the Cotswolds National Landscape, the project, called Cotswold Gateways, has been developed from idea to implementation since 2017, and was funded by the Rural Payments Agency as part of their Rural Development Programme for England grants scheme.
The new panels celebrate the local culture, businesses, heritage, and wildlife in each location, and invite people to explore local paths and get to know the towns and villages – and the treasures that make them so special – in a deeper way. The Cotswold Gateways panels will be found in Charlbury, Cirencester, Dursley, Hawkesbury, Marshfield, Painswick, Tetbury, Winchcombe, and Wotton-under-Edge. The locations are accessible by public transport, so that when coronavirus restrictions lift, and people are able to travel more freely, they will be able to explore the routes in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way. There are also cycling opportunities, with both on road and off road options. All walking routes will be available to download as PDFs and GPX files online, with GPX files for cycle routes at www.cotswoldsaonb.og.uk/cotswold-gateways. The aim of the project is to highlight Cotswolds towns and villages that are overlooked due to the popularity of traditional and well-known honeypot locations, to attract visitors to lesser known corners of the Cotswolds all year round, and to encourage people to engage with local businesses in each location.
Many people have worked with the Cotswolds National Landscape team to bring this huge project to light, including local volunteers, communities, landowners, town and parish councils, local walking groups, Sustrans, and highways authorities. Those involved have contributed to all aspects of the project including the design of routes, securing permissions, installing kissing gates and route improvements, waymarking the routes, and installing the panels.
Becky Jones, Access and Volunteer Lead, Cotswolds National Landscape, said, “We’re delighted to announce the completion of the Cotswolds Gateways project, and I want to say a huge thanks to the many people who have given their time and expertise to make it a success – it’s been a true partnership project that will benefit both locals and visitors to the area.”
Until coronavirus restrictions are appropriately lifted and allow us to travel further, the hope is that those local to each Cotswold Gateways location will enjoy the routes on their doorstep. Once restrictions are lifted, the hope is that everyone will be able to discover and enjoy the locations, and the routes which unfold around them.