Long Compton and the Rollright Stones

NEAREST LOCATION

Long Compton

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

5 miles (8kms)

ASCENT
673ft (205m)
TIME
2hrs
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Medium
STARTING POINT
SP289323

About the walk

This short, hilly walk offers the chance to visit the Rollright Stones, set up on the hills on the county border with Oxfordshire. The walk starts from Long Compton and ascends the lane up towards Little Rollright. The route passes by the famous stones and returns over farmland into the picturesque village of Little Rollright before descending back into Long Compton. This is a pleasant village through which the A3400 winds its way between Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford. You may be enchanted by the fine old stone houses that line the road and the unusual lychgate to the village church. This was once a 16th-century cottage from which the lower storey has been removed. It appears like a two-storey gatehouse with an arch beneath. The old church has loopholes which may have been used by marksmen during the Civil War.

Bronze Age stone circle

The Rollright Stones comprise some 60 monoliths positioned in three sets. The King Stone is on the Warwickshire side of the road while the Whispering Knights and the group called the King's Men are on the other side, in Oxfordshire. The stones, which are much older than those found at Stonehenge, are all worn rough by the winds and centuries of rain. The King Stone is the largest at nearly 9ft (2.75m), and this is said to be placed in such a position that when seen from the centre of the King's Men circle on 21 June each year, the rising sun is immediately in line with the stone. The stones in the King's Men circle measure from between 4ft (1.2m) to 7ft (2.1m).

Witch meets king

Long Compton is well known for its witches, and it is not surprising that the ancient stones are surrounded by legend. The most well known of these suggests that the stones were once human – a king, his knights and their followers. The king is said to have encountered a witch close to where the stones stand. She told him to take seven strides to the top of the hill, pronouncing, 'If Long Compton thou canst see, King of England shalt thou be!'' When the eager king got to the top of the hill, he couldn't see Long Compton because a spur of land obstructed the view. The witch then turned the monarch and his hapless followers all to stone – thus creating the King Stone and the King's Men. The Whispering Knights are said to have been traitors who were plotting against the King.

Walk directions

From The Red Lion go right, along the A3400 through Long Compton. Where the road bends sharp left, turn right and walk up Little Rollright Road, passing King Stone Farm and Ashby Farm as you climb an area known as The Hollows. After about 0.5 miles (800m) the road bends slightly to the right, and here you go left and immediately onto a footpath with Turnpikehill Barn away to your right. Ascend the footpath to the lane near to the Rollright Stones.

Go left along the lane to the famous stones. In just over 0.25 miles (400m), go right through a kissing gate and you will find the King's Men stone circle on the right, with King Stone in the field on the left. After looking at the King's Men stone circle, continue along a grassy permissive path parallel to the road for a further 500yds (457m), then bear right along the footpath to see the third group of stones, called the Whispering Knights. Return to the road and turn right to continue along it for about another 0.5 miles (800m), then at the A3400 junction go to the right and at the brow of the hill go right again up nine steps to a field.

Continue ahead along a grassy path, the hedge on your left, over two fields to a stile. Cross the driveway to Brighthill Farm, and continue ahead through a copse to a double stile. Continue ahead across a cultivated field, then follow a field edge track that descends to a lane. Cross this and descend to Little Rollright via two kissing gates. At a lane turn right to curve north to the superb church. From the church ascend the footpath, signed 'Little Compton Footpath Only', up Baker's Hill to the road.

Over a stile cross the road to follow the lane opposite for the next 0.5 miles (800m) towards Little Compton, enjoying the view to the right over Long Compton and towards the village of Brailes.

Where the road bends left, go right over a stone stile (not straight onto the bridleway track) and continue ahead over a cultivated field in a generally northeast direction – the view ahead is superb. Descend to the left of South Hill Farm, and continue walking on the MacMillan Way path over several fields, passing through two gates and over a stile. The path becomes a surfaced road. Just after passing to the right of farm buildings, go left and over a stile, then continue ahead via another stile down into Long Compton. Leave the footpath through two pairs of farm gates to arrive back in the village.

Go right along the road and return to The Red Lion car park.

Additional information

Field paths and country lanes, several stiles

Rolling countryside on edge of Cotswold Hills

Under control at all times

AA Walker's Map 8 The Cotswolds

Near Red Lion, Long Compton (ask permission from the hotel)

None on route

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WALKING IN SAFETY

Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.

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About the area

Discover Warwickshire

The sparkle of sunlight on a gentle river as it meanders through beautiful countryside; the reflections of sailing boats on a lake; relaxing with a pint in the garden of an old English pub in a picturesque village; brightly coloured narrow boats making their way through a flight of lock gates; the imposing silhouette of an historic castle. These are the scenes that make Warwickshire a delight. 

There may be few seriously high hills in this fertile plain, but it is an area full of attractive walking in rolling countryside, blessed with a fascinating history and wonderful places and buildings to visit. This is Shakespeare’s county, and the footprint of the famous Bard appears almost everywhere. He was born and brought up around the beautiful Warwickshire town of Stratford-upon-Avon, and many of his plays draw upon his own experiences in the area.

Warwickshire has a history that embraces the Civil War, castles and large country houses are scattered over the county. Warwick Castle is the home of the Earl of Warwick, Kenilworth Castle was a stronghold for lords and kings of England in the 11th and 12th centuries, and so the list goes on.

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