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Guiting Power to the People

A gentle ramble in quintessential Gloucestershire, from a typical village with an atypical place name and atypical ownership.

Distance 5 miles (8km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient 295ft (90m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Fields, tracks and country lanes, 10 stiles

Landscape Woodland, hills and village

Suggested map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 45 The Cotswolds

Start/finish SP 094245

Dog friendliness Fairly clear of livestock but many horses on roads

Parking Car park outside village hall (small fee)

Public toilets None on route

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1 From the village hall car park walk down the road to the village green. Cross the road to walk down a lane. At the bottom go over a stile into a field and turn right. Walk up the bank, up to another stile. Don't cross the one in front of you but clamber over the one to your right into a field.

2 Turn left and walk straight across this field to another stile. Cross this and two more to pass a farmhouse in Barton village. Follow the lane down to a larger road and turn right. Cross a bridge and turn left up a track and, after 100yds (91m), turn right up another track.

3 After a few paces bear left and walk along this track for about a mile (1.6km), until you reach another road. Turn right, walk along here for about 250yds (229m) and turn left on to a track.

4 Follow this all the way to a road, passing a quarry as you go. Cross the road and enter a lane descending past a house. This quiet lane will bring you all the way into the village of Naunton.

5 At the junction turn right. Walk through the village and cross the pretty stone bridge by the old mill, passing the old rectory to the left and the church concealed to the right. (To get to the Black Horse Inn, turn left and walk along the street for 400yds (366m). Return by entering a drive opposite the pub, turning sharp right over a stile, and walking back along the side of the river to emerge at a road near the church, where you turn left.) Continue up, out of the village.

6 After ¼ mile (400m) turn right over a stile into a field. Turn left, walk to a stile and go into the next field. Cross this field, enter the next one and follow the path to the right of some trees to a gate at the road.

7 Turn right along the road and continue to a junction at the bottom. Cross the road to enter a field and walk straight across. At the end go down some steps and pass to the right of a pond. Walk across the next field and then cross a stile to walk to the left of the church and return to the start.

It is remarkable how much detailed history is available about English villages, even ones, like Guiting Power, that are distinguished only by their comeliness. Looking from the village green, surrounded by stone cottages, with its church and secluded manor house, it is easy to imagine that very little has changed here in 1,000 years.

The eccentric name comes from the Saxon word 'gyte-ing', or torrent, and indeed the name was given not only to Guiting Power but also to neighbouring Temple Guiting, which in the 12th century was owned by the Knights Templars. Guiting Power though, was named after the pre-eminent local family of the 13th century, the Le Poers.

Over the years the village was variously known as Gything, Getinge, Gettinges Poer, Guyting Poher, Nether Guiting and Lower Guiting. Its current name and spelling date only from 1937. In 1086, the Domesday Book noted that there were 'four villagers, three Frenchmen, two riding men, and a priest with two small-holders'. Just under 100 years later the first recorded English fulling mill was in operation at the nearby hamlet of Barton. In 1330 permission was given for a weekly market to be held at Guiting Power, which may explain the current arrangement of the houses about the green. Guiting had its share of the prosperity derived from the 15th-century wool trade, as the addition of the little tower to the church testifies.

And yet, in other ways, history was slow to catch up with small villages like Guiting. Its farmland, for example, was enclosed only in 1798, allowing small landowners such as a tailor called John Williams, who owned 12 acres (4.86ha) in the form of medieval strips scattered throughout the parish, to finally consolidate their possessions.

Local rights of way were enshrined in law at this time. By the end of the 19th century the rural depression had reduced the population to 431, and it continued to decline throughout the 20th century. Nonetheless, it is recorded that apart from public houses (there were at least four), there were two grocers, two bakers, two tailors, two carpenters, two policemen and a blacksmith.

There are still two pubs in Guiting Power but everything else, apart from the post office and a single grocery store, has disappeared. The village is unusual in that it hasn't succumbed to the inflationary effects of second homeowners from the cities pushing local housing beyond the reach of existing locals. Much of this is down to the far-sightedness of Moya Davidson, a resident in the 1930s, who purchased cottages to be rented out locally. Today these are managed by the Guiting Manor Amenity Trust. It has meant that younger people are able to stay in the village to live and work and there still a few families here who can trace their roots back in Guiting Power for several generations.

Where to eat and drink

Guiting Power's two pubs are the Farmers Arms, just off the village green, and the Hollow Bottom on the other, Winchcombe, side of the village. Naunton has the very pleasant Black Horse Inn.

While you're there

Located between Guiting Power and Stow-on-the-Wold is the Cotswold Farm Park, a sort of zoo specialising in rare breeds of British farm livestock. Animals include the Cotswold 'lion'. This breed of sheep was the foundation of the medieval wool trade and has fortunately been saved from extinction.

What to look for

The Norman doorway in Guiting church is an exceptionally rich golden hue. In Naunton, if you stroll back from the Black Horse Inn towards the church on the opposite side of the river then you will be rewarded with a view of a large but charming 17th-century dovecote. Many villages had dovecotes for eggs and winter meat.

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