Charmydown Air strip

Route Details


8.5 Miles approx


footpaths, fields some quite steep inclines. Electric fences.

Unfortunately there was just two ramblers out today, Mark could not make it so myself and Nigel headed out across the valley of Lansdown to the disused airfield of Charmy Down. Like always I had left everything to the last minute; so there I was rushing round at 6 in the morning trying to get myself sorted, my bottle full of orange, my map printed and my boots placed inside a polythene bag. Finally I was ready to leave the house.

It was my turn to drive so I set off to to pick Nigel up outside the Willy Wickett pub just off the ring road. From there we headed to Lansdown via Wick. Our walk started up by the Monument that marked the battle of Lansdown in 1643. Having parked up we got ourselves ready, swapping our shoes for boots and putting on our rucksacks. It was at this point that I had a terrible feeling that I had forgotten something. I had boots, rucksack, camera but no map! Yes ladies and gentleman the one key element to walking I had left at home in the midst of rushing about.

We decided that the map was not going to spoil our walk so we set off without it, using common sense as our only compass. We crossed the road and headed towards the monument which was just a bit further up. As we approached it we noticed that a path lead around it so we took it. The path was well established so we kept on it for quite a way. After leaving the road side the terrain was quite nice, almost surreal- trees, open valleys, ridges it felt like we were in another part of Britain. Who would of thought that this was just down the road from us.

Through natures' arch

Once we were quite a way from where the car was parked I noticed that there were two masts either side of the cars position. This was a stroke of luck because the masts were very tall so wherever we headed we could see the two masts - who needs a map? I remembered from the map that Charmy Down was on the opposite hill and in-between was a deep valley. It was a case of walking down through the valley and up the other side. I also remember seeing a farm called Manor farm that we needed to pass. That being said I had no idea where it was. We carried on along the same route which I think was the Cotswold Way.

We carried on along the footpath which took us down in to the valley. A gate was labelled - Beware of the Bull. We both hesitated and did some surveillance before entering. It seemed safe to enter. As we did we noticed a herd of cows right in the distance a goliath of a Bull watched us enter and watched us leave.

We arrived at a farm, where the path went a bit off course so we asked a bloke who was working on a wall. He knew Mannor farm and also Charmy Down. He pointed us in the direction of a path that lead us down somebody's drive. After referencing the map we had hit Goudies Farm. We headed up some quite steep hills at this point as we neared the top we could hear traffic.

We crossed the A46 and continued down a path between two ploughed fields. The path broke right or went straight on, from the research I had done on the location I believed the airfield to be on our right so we took the foot path towards Hartely Farm. The Path seemed to disappear up ahead. We had been blocked by a sprout field guarded by a makeshift fence. Nigel noticed that a telegraph pole a few feet ahead had a yellow arrow on it indicating that the path went beyond the fence. The farmer had closed off the route which happens quite a lot on our walks. We had come this far and was not about to turn around so Nigel managed to get under it and kept to the edge of the sprout field. I got down and began to edge myself under the thin brightly coloured rope. I could feel the rope getting caught on my rucksack so I reached up to grab it but before I had chance to release it I was zapped. It was at that point that I realised that this innocent looking fence was in fact highly charged with electricity. I quickly grabbed the wire which sent another jolt down my arm and lunged forward freeing myself of its shocking grip. Nigel rushed over thinking that I had cramp - bloody fence! Why do Sprouts need this much protection? We both got our revenge and kicked the thing down. Later we laughed and when we told Mark about this incident he laughed too, and cried and still laughs even today. In fact I would put money on it that he is laughing right now whilst reading this.

The control tower at Charmydown

After cutting across the farm and we noticed that most of the old buildings were now used to store animal feed in them and machinery. The iconic control tower come into view so we headed towards it. Both entrances were quite heavily overgrown but we managed to beat them down and get inside. It seemed a shame that something like this had been left to rot through time. This would have made an excellent air museum, with perhaps annual air shows too.

Dotted all around the area was all sorts of buildings giving the indication that the site was quite busy and well used. In the distance were pillboxes and in the ground were holes and passages that perhaps lead to underground bunkers or shelters.

From the airfield we headed up what was probably the old runway, it was concrete anyhow. We went over a small fence that thankfully was not live and headed into a wooded area. We followed a narrow path between the trees to somebody's back garden. This did not seem right, we could hear cars so we new that the road was close hoping that it was the A46. We dipped down into a ditch and fought our way through the bushes exiting into a clearing where some lads were cleaning cars. They must have had a bit of a shock when they saw me and Nigel come bursting through the hedge.

From there we walked up the busy road until we come to a nature reserve. We took the stairs down into the wooded area and headed right. It was quite marshy in areas and most of the trees were in fact dead, twigs and branches littered the floor and snapped under foot. It seemed never ending but finally we got to a barbed wire fence that we had to climb over. We headed along another field and finally made it to a recognised public foot path that lead us back down the valley close to where we had come up it earlier. I could see in the distance the two masts so all we did from then on is head towards the centre of them.

It was on the return journey that we walked past a farm. On the sign by the front gate it read Manor Farm, I knew that there was a manor farm round here somewhere. We trundled back down the valley ready to tackle the steep incline ahead of us and noticed a strange water feature as we crossed a narrow wooden bridge. Yes that is a bathtub. 'Nigel was going to sit in it for a photo but it was full of water. From this point we headed right, towards an open gate that had a ford running across it.

There were lots of badger sets dug into the side of the hill here. We climbed the hill went back past the field with the bull in it and eventually got back to the car. We then hit the Rose and Crown in Wick for a well earned pint.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.