May Hill countryside walk, Gloucestershire
May Hill, on Gloucestershire/Herefordshire borderRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Enjoy an exhilarating walk over this prominent landmark. Starting on May Hill Common, the walk climbs to the clump of trees on the summit, before crossing an open expanse of grassland. You'll then return via the woodlands of the Huntley Estate.
- Bus stop
Start: May Hill Common, grid ref: SO690221
From the parking area, go past the metal gate and head straight up the fairly steep middle path to the top of May Hill Common.
There are fantastic views from May Hill over Herefordshire, to Wales and the Black Mountains. You can also see the Forest of Dean, over the Severn Estuary and out towards the Cotswolds.
At the top, go through the kissing gate at the end of the wall (which marks the county boundary) and head across the grassland in the direction of the clump of pine trees.
May Hill, with its conspicuous clump of pine trees, rises to a height of 1000ft (305m). The Corsican pines at its summit were planted to commemorate Queen Victorias golden jubilee in 1887, with more recent planting marking Queen Elizabeths silver jubilee. There was an even earlier clump of Scots pine trees in the 18th century, several of which still survive. Morris dancers celebrate May Day each year on top of the hill.
From the pine trees follow the main track to the southern end of the hill.
The area of acidic grassland on the summit of May Hill is the largest and finest example in Gloucestershire. In spring it's covered with bluebells. Bracken grows in abundance so we cut it back every July, and plants such as heath bedstraw, heath speedwell, bilberry and heather thrive here. Listen out for breeding birds like tree and meadow pipits as well.
Pass through the gate and continue down the track, crossing straight over the crossroads by a water tank in the field to your right.
After about 55yd (50m), turn left down the track and follow the public footpath way-markers.
When you reach a small road, turn left along the forestry track and over a stile next to a metal gate. Continue along the track into the woodlands of the Huntley Estate.
At the next bend the public footpath leaves the main track. Follow the arrows until it re-joins the forestry track. You'll pass through an impressive plantation of coast redwood trees.
Just after the timber stacking area, turn sharp left, still following the public footpath. Continue along this footpath, ignoring the next two footpaths leading off to the right. In areas where there are scattered ponds and flushes, uncommon plants, including lesser skullcap, bog pimpernel and bog mosses flourish. Palmate newts and rare water beetles live here too and you may even spot dragonflies flitting over the water.
Go over the stile onto the common, continuing along the footpath. Head straight over the track and follow the path through the bracken. Eventually the path will join the road just below the parking area.
End: May Hill Common, grid ref: SO690221
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- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 3 miles (5km)
- Time: 1 hour
- OS Map: Explorer OL14; Landranger 162
A circular walk with an initial steep climb. The ground through the woodland section can be muddy, especially after wet weather. There are two stiles.
- How to get here:
By foot: The Gloucestershire Way and Wysis Way run across May Hill’s summit
By bike: Quiet, local roads lead to May Hill from the surrounding villages and towns
By train: Gloucester, 10 miles (16km)
By car: May Hill is signposted off A40 Gloucester to Ross-on-Wye road, 1 mile (0.5km) west of Huntley, 3 miles (5km) from J3 of M50. Follow road up hill past Yew Tree Inn, Clifford’s Mesne. Roadside parking 0.5 miles (0.8km) past cattle grid
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