The Owlpen estate forms a wild and secret valley extending along the Ewelme stream under the Cotswold edge. It is accessible, yet far from the intrusion of public roads and the commercial farming of the Cotswold plateau.
The extensive native beech woods are carpeted with bluebells in the spring. Richly varied walks lead the serious hiker or casual stroller over many miles of footpaths on the estate and beyond. Long-distance trails are well organised in the surrounding area of the Cotswolds.
Beyond the Owlpen valley is an impressive group of archaeological sites. The Iron Age hill fort at Uley is the most impressive in the Cotswolds, commanding views over the Severn Vale to the mountains of Wales; neolithic long barrows and Roman settlements lie on the hills.
Owlpen and its neighbouring valleys form a haven rich in wildlife, with wildflowers in the fields, protected butterflies, deer and badgers a common sight, and a rich variety of habitat for bird-watching – never forgetting the fabled owls of Owlpen.
As well as a traditional West Country livestock farm producing home-reared organic meat, Owlpen is a sporting estate perfect for all forms of country pursuits. Rough shooting and clay pigeon lessons can be arranged. Riding, gliding and golf (with three courses) are all a mile or two away. There are also options for fly fishing which we can recommend to our guests. Many other activities are organized by us for corporate programmes or private parties.
And there is plenty of room for those who want none of these, but simply to breathe in the peace and utter seclusion of a timeless countryside.
The Great Mead in spring
Owlpen consists of a fine group of manorial outbuildings, including the Grist Mill, the manorial watermill with a handsome cupola (1728), and the Court House (1620s). There is a small hamlet of old weaver’s and traditional cottages belonging to the estate. The gas works is a rare survival in England, built to manufacture gas for the mansion house in the 1860s.
The elaborate Church of the Holy Cross is the most richly detailed Victorian church in the Cotswolds. The interior is decorated with mosaics by James Powell & Sons of 1886 and 1913, and stained glass and tiles of the Arts and Crafts period. It is still in regular use.
The historic estate is enclosed by steeply-rising hills, crowned with beech woods, enveloping the Owlpen Valley, or pen. The manor and its cottage hamlet nestle below. This is Laurie Lee country, a mystery land of deeply-wooded hills and trackless bottoms dividing this “Royal Triangle” of the Cotswolds from the Welsh borderland.