Whenever I talk to anyone about the Cotswolds, I always mention Broadway Tower. It is one of the best places from which to watch the sunset. And on a clear day you can see as far as the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons National Park, as well as the nearer Malvern Hills. In total you can spot 16 counties from Broadway Tower. I’m a big advocate of exploring the area on foot, which is why I’ll be sharing with you some of my favourite walks around Broadway Tower in this guide. I will also be letting you into a little secret: where to park for free without annoying all the locals!
What is Broadway Tower?
You would be forgiven if you thought Broadway Tower was some form of Saxon era communications or defence tower. Sitting on Beacon’s Hill, the second tallest point in the Cotswolds, it certainly looks the part! However, it served no such purpose at all. It was a rich man’s folly and was built for no other purpose than “well, why not?!”.
There are different beliefs about what the Earl of Coventry was thinking when he commissioned the tower. Some say it was to link his two estates, while others believe it was a token of his love for his wife. Regardless of his reasons, I am grateful he did, since I often visit the park for a walk with my dog Suki.
What is there to do around Broadway Tower?
Aside from walking, of course, which I will get to in a moment, there is a lot to do within the actual grounds of Broadway Tower. So whether you want to see the resident red deer herd, hire an e-bike to explore further afield, indulge in a delicious lunch, or do a spot of shopping, you will find it all within the grounds of Broadway Tower. However, don’t come expecting a big shopping mall spoiling the vistas. If you aren’t interested in any of that, chances are you won’t even spot the buildings!
If you wanted something a little different, there is also a nuclear bunker. Sitting 15 feet below ground, this is a fascinating relic from the Cold War. The team at Broadway Tower offers 45 minute tours that would allow you to step back in time and witness how the UK would have coped had the Cold War ever turned nuclear.
Last but not least, you can, of course, visit the Tower Museum, for which you will need to buy admission tickets. In fact, you are meant to buy tickets to access any of the grounds. The exception to this is if you are sticking to the public footpath.
To pay or not to pay?
If you simply want to enjoy the views and go for a nice walk, sticking to the footpaths, then there is no need to pay an admission ticket. But if you want to contribute towards the preservation of the park, you can always park in the “Pay and Display” car park by the café. If you plan to enjoy the grounds beyond the footpaths, please do pay. It isn’t enforced, but the admission ticket does pay for the upkeep of the grounds.
However, if you simply want to enjoy the beautiful British countryside, then the good news is, you can do it for free! And yes, that includes free parking too!
Free parking for Broadway Tower
Broadway Tower offers a Pay and Display car park. Annoyingly, the last time I checked they still didn’t accept cards which means I can never park there as I never have cash on me. In an attempt to avoid paying for parking, a lot of people park on the narrow lane that leads up and away from the Tower. Please don’t do this. It is hugely disruptive for the locals and there have been times when emergency vehicles have not been able to pass as a result of thoughtless parking.
You can park for free, legally, in an actual car park! The Fish Hill Picnic Area has space for around 20 cars and is only a short 15-minute walk from Broadway Tower. If you follow the Cotswolds Way it will take you straight there. However, do be careful when crossing the A44; it is a fast road!
The best walks around Broadway Tower
When it comes to Broadway Tower, most people do either of the following:
- Drive up and simply walk around the grounds.
- Walk up from Broadway and then retrace their steps
There is nothing wrong with either of these, although I certainly prefer opting for one of the circular routes. Not only do you get to see more, but chances are you will have most of it to yourself!
The Broadway Tower Circular Route (6.5 km)
This is an excellent route if you are staying in Broadway as you won’t even need to move your car! If you are driving however, you will pass the Fish Hill picnic area, which also works well for this walk! I am going to assume you are starting in Broadway. Still, you can easily start the walk from Broadway Tower or Fish Hill picnic area, wherever it is you find yourself.
I recommend doing the walk clockwise so that you end up walking back down towards Broadway across the fields for the best views and walking up to Broadway Tower through the forest. However, this is just my personal preference, and aside from slightly different views, there are no other reasons why I would recommend doing it this way round.
Starting in Broadway
Broadway is such a picturesque town, with its wide high street lined with horse chestnut trees and independent shops and cafes. Everyone takes great pride in their frontages, all of which come alive with colourful flower displays in the spring.
Once you peel yourself away from the sights of the town, head east up the high street. When the shops stop, and the crowds disperse, keep on walking and discover the quiet side of Broadway where few people ever venture. The houses are no less charming; in fact, they take on a new level of grandeur, and you won’t be waiting for a car free shot either. But don’t tell anyone, best the crowds don’t find out about it.
Once you have left the houses behind, you will come to a footpath sign on the left hand side. This will take you across a field and under the A44 before you start making your way up the many sheep fields that flank Fish Hill. The going does get a bit steep in places, nothing more than a leg burner, and always a great excuse to stop and turn around to admire the view.
Eventually, you will reach a narrow lane that you cross before heading into the woods. If you are walking in the area during April and May, make sure you have the camera ready as these woods have some of the most beautiful bluebell displays that I have found.
You will finally come to the Fish Hill picnic area where you will pick up the Cotswold Way. Following the acorn signs, cross the road (be careful, it is a fast road!) and follow the track as it takes you through some more woods and across a couple of fields leading you straight to Broadway Tower. I love this approach as you manage to avoid all the crowds on the way up to it!
Downhill all the way
Once you’ve enjoyed the Broadway Tower Café and taken all the photos you can, it is time to head back down. It is straightforward. From the tower follow the footpath down the hill back to Broadway. It is pretty much a straight line all the way down. A bench halfway down offers a great view of the town. It is a great spot to have a picnic (or if doing it in reverse to rest the legs!).
The path will bring you straight back out onto Broadway High Street, right where you started off. I hear that the Market Pantry is the best place to enjoy a light lunch. Perfect for a morning well spent on the hill!
Alternative Circular Route
There are many footpaths in this area. You could easily create several circular routes connecting Broadway and Broadway Tower. The National Trail advertises the following one.
The Broadway Tower Circular Route (4.5 km)
If you are starting at Broadway Tower and don’t fancy walking into Broadway, you could opt for the 4.5 km loop instead. This walk takes you partly down the hill, then across several farms before bringing you to the Middle Hill Estate with its beautiful yet understated manor house and its octagonal Victorian coach house, now converted into two-bedroom homes.
This is our go-to walk whenever it is a nice evening. Our dog loves it as for the most part she can be off the lead and once we’ve left the tower behind we never see another soul.
To enjoy this walk, start at Broadway Tower Park and aim for the tower itself before picking up the footpath that leads you down the hill towards Broadway. You want to take a left when you reach the field with the bench and steps. The path left isn’t until more or less the end of this field. However, do keep an eye out for the faint footpath as it isn’t particularly well signposted.
Follow the grassy trail to the next gate, which leads to a field that usually holds cattle. Remember, it is important to keep dogs on the lead around livestock. If the cows became very interested in you, let go of the dog and let it run away. They are more likely to chase the dog than they are to chase you! Having said that, we have never encountered any problems!
The path will lead downhill to the next set of gates and then up a track to another field usually containing sheep. Walk across the sheep field and below the bungalow and continue straight before reaching a turning point. Here, you can either turn left and follow the road back to Broadway Tower Park or continue straight on.
Octagonal Coach Houses and Manor Homes
Personally, I always continue straight. It doesn’t add much more distance to the walk, and I always love admiring the octagonal Victorian coach house. To think such an impressive building was built just for the horses and their carriages!
After you pass the manor house, you want to bear left on the road, past the coach house until you come to a public footpath heading left up to the woods. It is a short steep ascent that will bring you back to the tower.
Broadway to Moreton in Marsh
If you fancy something a little more challenging, why not walk from Broadway to Moreton-in-Marsh? I’ve walked it a few times, and I have to say it is a brilliant walk. The walk is just over 15 km and should take you somewhere between 3 and 5 hours depending on your pace. It is a relatively flat route aside from the climb out of Broadway and then again out of Blockley. It will take you down quaint country lanes, across farmland, through fancy estates and finally through the chocolate box town of Blockley.
What I love most about this walk is that it always makes me feel as if I am in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature and wildlife with nothing but the sound of birds for company.
Enjoy the Cotswold on foot
Unless you are new to my blog, you will know by now that I am a big fan of exploring the Cotswolds on foot. There is a fantastic network of footpaths throughout the Cotswolds, making it the perfect place for a human-powered adventure. Whether you pick a base and explore locally or set off on a more significant challenge such as the Cotswolds Way or Diamond Way, I am sure you won’t be able to help but fall in love with the area. So bring your walking boots and enjoy!