Walking up May Hill, Gloucestershire’s historic summit

walking up may hill gloucestershires historic summit

ast autumn, I escaped for a few days from a deflated North London to a gloriously gusty Gloucestershire with my partner Rob and our five-year-old daughter, Rosa. Our destination: May Hill, which straddles the border between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, forming a short section of The Rambler’s Association 100 mile route of The Gloucestershire Way. It proved to be the perfect tonic for all of us, and in more ways than we had expected.

This one-mile loop trail is achievable for even the most modest of fitness levels (mine) and begins at the small car park on rural Yartleton Lane. As you pass through the gate, start by taking the path on the left-hand side.

There are a few 18th century legends that suggest how the hill, formerly called Yartleton Hill, got its present-day name. Perhaps May Hill was named after Admiral May, who planted the crop of pine trees at the top of the hill, as a beacon for sailors manoeuvring the River Severn? A pleasant thought, but my favourite theory is about the May Day games, where the people of the neighbouring parishes would meet on the hill each year on May Day, or “Beltane” (the official Celtic marker for the start of the summer), and have a mock battle…

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