May 09

Walk around Stoke Orchard ex WW2 Airfield from Bishops Cleeve

May 3rd 2pm Kate Clark described our walk in her Saturday lunchtime chat show. The walk can either begin at Stoke Orchard new Community Centre, or at Bishops Cleeve. An OS map shows a footpath south of the Beesbrook with a return path across the railway line below Gotherington Farm, altogether about 8 miles, 4hours. It’s a reasonable level walk with a high point at 37 metres but Cleeve Hill is always in view.

Don’t miss the delightful Norman Church in Stoke Orchard. Once the Village would have been at a crossing of Green Lanes linking villages such as Pamington, Tredington, Elmstone Hardwicke, north and south as well as east and west  but now the surfaced road to Bishops Cleeve uses the latter.

Many years ago it would have been possible to create a half length route along the edge of the airfield to the old Cleeve railway Station on the Cheltenham to Worcester line.  This is now largely missing, the remains being roughly the line of the access road to the Recycling Centre passing the nearby shooting range probably the site of the Butts – a place for aligning aeroplane armaments.

In the 1960s a cold war bunker similar to one open near Broadway Tower was constructed near there too

The buildings north of the Airfield were part of a shadow factory for Hawker Hurricanes. Some of these became a distribution centre – still there today. Others were at the dismantled Coal  Research Establishment now the site of new housing and the Community Centre.

The airfield was a satellite used for Gliders. These took part in one way missions around the time of the Normany Landings. Due to the number of people involved, accommodation was set up nearby by Butlins. In places the groundworks are still visible today.

Stoke Orchard has a wealth of History from pre-Norman times when it was at a meeting point, its development as a Village, followed by land use described above. See if you can spot the location of the old Mill too.

This is a walk which, with a little imagination, can bring back a feeling for what life may have been, all those years ago.



Tricky Stile at the northern railway crossing



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