Nut Hill, in Upton St Leonards, is a grassy hilltop with views over urban Gloucester and the Cotswolds, managed by the Woodland Trust. This walk is slightly unusual because of the sunken mysterious pill box at the top of the hill, making you wonder about the history of the place.
There are usually sheep or cattle grazing at Nut Hill, so please keep dogs on a lead. We visited at the end of August, where luckily, the sheep had recently been moved on.
Our walk took us on a circular route around Coopers Edge, Hucclecote Meadows Nature Reserve and back again and Nut Hill was an excellent place to look at the surrounding views. It’s located at the back of the Mercure Gloucester Bowden Hall Hotel (which is also dog friendly!)
1. Access Hucclecote Meadows Nature Reserve by Lobleys Drive, you can park on the side of the road nearby. There’s a clear path through the two meadows to follow.
2. Once you come to the edge of the housing estate, stay on the right-hand side, and walk past the playground towards the next field which has a large, bare tree in. This field has cows in, so make sure dogs stay under close control. Once you reach the tree, walk to the bridle path, just behind the line of trees on right-hand side. It’s quite muddy here, even in summer!
3. Follow the bridle path south west, stay on the path when it turns 90 degrees left. This path goes up a small incline, which will lead to a small lane that goes past some big houses.
4. Follow the lane and when you see the Mercure Gloucester Bowden Hall Hotel, walk in the entrance and into the car park, staying on the left-hand side, which will take you around to the back of the hotel. Near the bin area is a woodland path. Walk up the hill and you will reach a gate for Nut Hill.
5. Explore Nut Hill, visit the sunken pill box and admire the views! To exit Nut Hill, walk the opposite direction you came in on, following the path through the trees downhill. Walk through the new gates and when you reach the road, turn left. The next quarter of a mile you will be walking on the road, so please be careful and keep dogs on a short lead.
6. You will soon see a small lane which leads to ‘Abbotswood Cottages’, walk down here, to the end of the lane where there is a small footpath. follow this path down the hill. When we visited in August it was full of towering sweetcorn! At the end of the path, turn left, you will be able to see the new housing estate through the bushes, but stay on the path. Eventually, you will come to a gate which leads on to Typhoon Way.
7. Turn left to walk along Typhoon Way, until it turns into Lobleys Drive, then take a left onto Hazel Way. In the middle of the crescent of houses, you will see a paved footpath that runs behind the buildings, turn right once you walk past the back gardens and this footpath will take back to Lobleys Drive and to the beginning of your walk.
‘The history of the Hill dates back to the 1800s. In those days some of the land close to Bowden Hall (now the Mercure Bowden Hall Hotel) was rented out to a lady who kept Giraffes and buffalo.
In 1873 the Hall was bought by John Dearman Birchall, a Yorkshire woollen merchant, who also acquired Nut Hill itself, a few years later. He undertook some major landscaping and tree planting close to the Hall, and he had an ornamental stone summer house erected on the Hill’s summit.
The summer house had disappeared by the 1930’s, but two interesting structures are still located on the very top of the Hill, and both are remnants from the Second World War.
A five sided ‘pill box’ gun emplacement lies above-ground. This was built to help protect the nearby Gloster Aircraft Company (GAC) factory from attacks by German aircraft (the factory used to sited on the land now occupied by the business park)
An underground bunker is also located on top of the Hill with an access shaft, flu and ventilation shaft. This is sealed for safety reasons.
The Hill was also used as a barrage balloon site – one of 32 balloons that were sited east of Gloucester to protect the GAC complex.’
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