Lockdown restrictions might be stopping us getting out and about as much as normal but there’s no reason why you can’t have an adventure on your doorstep.
Gloucestershire is full of history wherever you turn, with interesting buildings and sights. With this in mind we are starting a series of guided walks, around streets and places which you might know but may not have explored.
All are within urban areas so you don’t have to drive anywhere and we will be picking locations across the county so you can stay local and stay within the rules.
We’d also love to know your favourite routes for getting out for a bit of fresh air in the streets in your neighbourhood – let us know in the comments below.
Our first walk takes in history, sport and a bit of colour around the streets of Kingsholm. Ideal for anyone living around Longlevens, Elmbridge or Barnwood, or that side of Gloucester it is a short route which can even form a quick run if you are feeling energetic.
Starting point: The bench at the corner of Denmark Road and London Road
Difficulty: Low, one slight hill
Length: 2.2miles or 3.5km (with a bit more if you do a couple of laps of Hillfield Gardens)
Accessibility: Suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs (you might need to skip part of Hillfield Garden depending on the weather)
Shoes: You’ll be fine in trainers for this one
Part one: The Leper Church and the hidden garden
Start: Head down London Road towards the city centre. This is the route trams used to take into town and was one of the main routes into Gloucester.
On your right you’ll see a tiny church up above a wall, this is St Mary Magdalene’s Chapel or the lepers church. Back when this area was just outside the city walls it was home to a large leper hospital. This church was once a lot bigger but only the chancel remains, you can walk up to it and take a look and some examples of 13th Century graffiti around the doors, look for the flowers and carved symbols around the south door.
Next door to the church is Hillfield Gardens, one of the city’s proper hidden gems. If you have time take a walk around the whole park, it used to be the garden of the big house at the top but is now a open space in the city.
Those two buildings inside both Grade II listed, they are Scrivens Conduit (the smaller one) and the King’s Board (the decagonal one), the former used to be at the bottom of Southgate Street where is acted as a water conduit for the city carrying supplies piped in from Robinswood Hill and the latter is said to include arches and parts from a long-demolished house which used to stand in Westgate Street and was called the King’s Board. Both are great for a bit of hide and seek with younger walkers.
In the warmer months the park is a veritable squirrel fest, come late on a summer afternoon and see them chase each other beneath the trees. Clever planting and dedication from a group of volunteers who help maintain the gardens means there’s a flash of colour among the green all year round. It is particularly beautiful on an early spring morning (and ideal one for parents of young children who wake up early).
After a loop of the park continue on down London Road. On the opposite side of the road is England’s Glory, a nod back to when plentiful timber supplies up the canal made Morelands match factory an international name.
Part 2: Ghost signs and buses
As you get to the corner with Heathville Road take a look at the house on the corner, this was once home to Sir Peter Scot, founder of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, there are ambitious plans to use the large period property as funeral home.
After BBC Radio Gloucestershire you’ll pass the main Stagecoach depot for Gloucester. A great place for spotting where the buses “sleep” if you have a young walker with you. There’s normally a glimpse of some of the historic vehicles inside too if you look closely.
Once you’ve crossed Oxford Street and Alvin Street look up and left past the Subway sign. You should be able to see a “ghost sign” harking back to the past businesses who occupied the garage site. Gloucester is full of these signs, let us know below if you’ve spotted any more.
Under the railway and you’ll reach Black Dog Way, head left, past the car park for the Church of St Peter and along the wall of the railway embankment. Haven’t those flats on the other side of the road changed this part of the city? The Rooftop development on the old Iceland site and the flats diagonally opposite have made this area into a new residential hot spot.
At the junction with Worcester Street head straight on, crossing Worcester Street at the lights and continue down Gouda Way to the next set of lights. Here turn right and go under the railway arches and along Hare Lane.
Part 3: Rugby and rainbows
At the Coach and Horses cross over and head left down St Catherine Street. The old buildings are the only remains of when this area was a busy suburb for those working at the Foundry (where Kingsholm School is now) and other factories. At one point there were several pubs along this little stretch – look for little reminders like the West of England brewery signs.
Turn right at the bottom along Dean’s Walk, just after the back gates to Kingsholm is a little footpath. This cuts through to our next destination.
This slightly overgrown alley takes you along the site of the old Castle Grim field, now home to Gloucester Rugby. Way back it was the site of the base of a Roman garrison. Outside the main city walls but close enough to spring into action. Little rugby fans might like to look through the hole in the red gate for a glimpse of the famous turf – with Gloucester Rugby now training there too you might spot a star.
At the end of this alley turn right and face the wonder of the Rainbow Road. Beautiful in all weathers, Tash Frootko has breathed new life into St Mark Street with a team of helpers and a bit of paint. Young walkers might like to name all the colours and pick their favourites, if you’ve been able to drag an older child or teenager it is the ideal selfie backdrop.
Part 4: Homeward bound
Back on Kingsholm Road, cross at the zebra crossing then head left towards Denmark Road.
This is the last stretch, taking you to the bench where we started. Have a look at one of Gloucester’s newest housing estates cropping up at Glevum Green. Can you spot the Dalek on the top of Denmark Road School?
The inspiration behind one of science fiction’s most fearsome characters was a simple chimney pot on top of High School for Girls in Kingsholm. Apparently. BBC designer Raymond Cusick who created the iconic nemesis of Doctor Who is said to have been inspired by seeing a futuristic-looking top a girls school.
As you head up the hill to where we started little people might like the very old postbox on the corner of Heathville Road, tracing the letters and working out who was on the throne when it was made.
This last bit is the steepest, but you get to see some magnificent old buildings along the way. This area was developed at the turn of the last century and has some fine examples of late Victorian and early Edwardian architecture.