I was down in Great Witcombe in the Cotswolds with Debbie Barnes for New Year’s Eve, and after going to the service at St Mary’s on the morning of New Year’s Day we decided to take a walk out to the remains of the Roman villa which were close by to where we were staying. I believe parts of our walk feature in the Cotswold Way footpath.
We left Peats Cottage in Witcombe Park at 1245 and walked along a track through the fields, passing by the bottom of Green Farm before turning left towards the field which contains the remains. The weather was dry and not too cold, and while the ground had puddles in places it was mostly firm and made for an easy walk. We had come to the remains from the wrong direction, and so had to walk to their far end, then up a rise and back round on ourselves to reach the entrance – the alternative is to approach from the road, and there is a car park for anyone who wants to drive to the location. The remains are of a large, luxury villa which dates from 250 AD and is believed to have been abandoned in the fifth century. Entrance is free and the building foundations are very clear to see, although a couple of buildings prevent access to some areas to preserve them. It made a very interesting stop on the walk. We carried on down the tarmac drive to the car park, enjoying the views over the fields and glimpses of Peats Cottage, then made our way round the edges of a field before cutting across to the reservoir. We walked along the concrete crossing over the reservoir, which took us to Church Farm. We had driven up here the evening before while trying to find Peats Cottage in the dark, and the reservoir had felt very dark and spooky at that time of night. It was much more sedate in the daylight. We were at the edges of the farm buildings and made our way over stiles into and out of fields occupied by horses, until we were back on the road leading up to St Marys. From there it was just a short stroll back to Peats Cottage, and we were there just after 1400.