Belas Knap Walk: See a Neolithic Long Barrow

view of the belas knapp long barrow
by Anisa // 2 Comments

Hidden on top of one of the Cotswolds hills in Gloucestershire is the Belas Knap Long Barrow.  You will be glad you made the effort to see this well-preserved ancient monument.

Let me give you the scoop on doing the Belas Knap walk and visiting the Belas Knap Long Barrow.

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view of belas knap from the back
The Belas Knap Long Barrow is a hidden gem.

About the Belas Knap Long Barrow

Belas Knap Long Barrow is a burial site built in the early Neolithic period over 5,500 years ago – making it older than Stonehenge

The remains of at least 38 people have been found inside the four burial chambers and behind the rocks covering the false entrance (called the portal setting).  The area by the portal setting is thought to have been used for ceremonies. 

the front of the long barrow with the false opening
You would expect there to be an entrance here but nope.

Archeologists believe that the people buried here were hunters, small-scale farmers, and cattle herders.  Some skeletons had fatal head injuries suggesting conflict may have been common. 

During the excavation that took place in 1863-1865, they discovered a stone circle in the center of the long barrow that may have been part of an earlier monument.  We also know that it was open during Roman times as Romano-British pottery has been found inside one of the burial chambers.

inside of chamber of belas knap, you can see large stones
You can go inside the chambers, if you like.

The Belas Knap Long Barrow is in excellent condition especially considering its age.  This did not happen on its own.  It was restored in the late 18th-century by Mrs. Emma Dent of Sudeley.

It was damaged again after the 1928-1930 excavation before being restored to what we see today.  The chambers now have concrete roofs instead of the original corbelled stone ceilings.

Belas Knap Walk Options

path surrounded by trees with dry stone wall on one side
You will enjoy the peaceful walk to Belas Knap.

There are two main options if you want to visit the Belas Knap Long Barrow.  You can either walk from the town of Winchcombe (a 5.25 mile circular route) or the layby off the Cotswold Way (about .65 miles each way).

Since we were a bit tight on time, we decided to go with the shorter option which I will detail in this post.  If you want to do the longer circular walk, you can find a map here.

RELATED: Romantic Things to Do in the Cotswolds

Belas Knap Short Walk Guide

kissing gate leading to a woodland area at the start of the belas knap walk
The trail to Belas Knap starts with a woodland section.

We parked in the layby and crossed the road to begin the walk up to the Belas Knap Long Barrow.  It starts out pretty steep through the woodland to a kissing gate.

path through woodland area
The beginning section of the Belas Knap walk is steeper than it looks in this photo.
kissing gate at top of woodland section of the belas knap walk
Once you reach this gate at the top of the woodland section, you will walk through a field.

On the other side of the gate is a large field.  We followed the signs for the Cotswold Way along the outside of the field.  Even though it was a bit of a foggy morning, we still had a nice view over the countryside as we made our way up.

open field that you go through on the belas knap walk
It’s a relatively steep walk up through the field, take a break and take in the views behind you.

At the top, there was another kissing gate and the path turned to the left.  By this point we had done most of the climbing and just needed to follow the path to the long barrow.  

kissing gate at the top of the field about half way to the Belas Knap long barrow
Once you reach this kissing gate at the top of the field, you have done most of the climbing on this walk.
dirt path with bushes and trees on one side and fence on the other
This section of the walk is relatively flat.

When we did the walk in May, this section had a lot of bluebells and every so often when there was an opening we were able to take in more views of the area.  I even spotted Sudeley Castle in the distance.

bluebells in the woods spotted on the walk to the belas knap long barrow
We saw a lot of bluebells on our walk to the Belas Knap Long Barrow.

Once we reached the next kissing gate, we could see a bit of the long barrow.  It is inside an area surrounded by a stone wall.  There is a stone stile (a few stone steps) to get into the area where you find the Belas Knap Long Barrow.

kissing gate connected to dry stone wall
We could see a bit of the Belas Knap Long Barrow when we reached the kissing gate.
stone steps that you need to climb to get to the area where the Belas Knap long barrow is located
You will need to climb these steps to get to the Belas Knap Long Barrow.

Visiting Belas Knap Long Barrow

Once you reach the long barrow, it is time to explore.  You need to walk around the ancient monument to get a sense of the scale.  It is more than 175 feet long, almost 60 feet wide, and more than 10 feet tall.

If you walk around the long barrow in a counter-clockwise direction, you will come to the false entrance (known as a portal setting) first.  Here there is a curved indentation in the mound with large stones where you might think the entrance would be.  When we visited we were touched that someone had left some wildflowers there.

view of one of the smaller chambers at belas knap
You will want to walk around the long barrow to see the chambers.

As you continue around the monument you will see four separate chambers.  You can duck your head and peek inside.  Note that some of the chambers are bigger than others, but none are as big as the one in the West Kennet Long Barrow in Avebury.

I always find it fascinating to visit these ancient sites especially when archeologists are able to share information about how it was used and the people that were here.  We are lucky that Belas Knap has been cared for over the years.

one of the side chambers at belas knap
It’s nice to see Belas Knap is being kept in good condition.

Belas Knap Walk FAQs

How long is the Belas Knap walk?

From the layby, it is .65 miles to the Belas Knap long barrow (according to my apple watch), so the roundtrip hike is a little more than a mile.

Is the walk to Belas Knap hard?

I would classify this as moderate.  The first half of the walk is a bit steep, then it is relatively flat.  The path is well marked so it is easy to follow.

sign directing walkers to stay on the path
You won’t have any issues following the Belas Knap path, it is well-marked.

Is the walk to Belas Knap suitable for kids?

Yes, it is not too long or too difficult so I think it’s fine for kids.  They will enjoy visiting the long barrow since they can go inside the small chambers.

How long does it take to walk to Belas Knap?

It took us about 20 minutes to walk from the layby to the Belas Knap long barrow.  You can probably do it faster as we stopped to take photos.

view of the Cotswolds countryside through some haze and clouds
Even with low visibility, we still had some pretty nice views.

Where do you park for the Belas Knap Long Barrow?

There is a large layby on the road across from where the walk up to the long barrow starts.  If you are coming from Winchcombe it is sign posted and not far from the turn off on Corndean lane.  Use what3words ///tablet.bookshop.powering 

Make sure that you lock your car and place all valuables out of sight as we saw signs saying that thieves operate in the area.  

layby on the road where you can park for the belas knap walk, in the photo you see one car parked with some space for more
You can park in the layby by the start of the Belas Knap trail.

Can you get to Belas Knap by public transportation?

No, unfortunately there are no buses between Winchcombe and Belas Knap.  You would need to walk from Winchcombe.

How much does it cost to visit Belas Knap?

It is free to visit Belas Knap and also park in the layby.

Are there any facilities on the Belas Knap walk?

No.  You are walking through woodlands and fields.  The nearest bathrooms, restaurants, and shops are in the town of Winchcombe.

path with dry stone wall on one side and small wood fence on other side leading to gate
You aren’t going to find any facilities on this countryside walk.

Where can you stay near Belas Knap?

Your best options for accommodation near Belas Knap is Winchcombe.  Check out the options here.

Are there other long barrows near Belas Knap?

There are three other long barrows in Gloucestershire – Uley Long Barrow, Nympsfield Long Barrow, and Windmill Tump Long Barrow.

While it is a little further, you could also see the Lugbury Longbarrow near Castle Combe.

What else is there to see near Belas Knap Long Barrow?

Sudeley Castle and Spoonley Wood Roman Villa are both just a few miles away.  You should also spend some time exploring the charming town of Winchcombe.

one of the belas knap chambers with trees in the background
Belas Knap is a fascinating place to explore.

Is Belas Knap worth visiting?

Yes!  It’s not everyday that you can visit an ancient sacred place.  Not only is Belas Knap an impressive long barrow but the walk is scenic with views over the countryside.  


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picture of the entrance to belas knap with text overlay: England Travel - Guide to the Belas Knap Walk

Expert Tips for Visiting Belas Knap Long Barrow

  • While you can definitely do this walk in tennis shoes, it might be easier with hiking shoes especially if the ground is a bit wet and muddy.
  • The walk offers spectacular views so if you can try to do it on a clear day.
  • You should also explore the nearby town of Winchcombe and visit Sudeley Castle if you have time.

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Last Updated on January 30, 2023

About the Author

Anisa is an experienced international traveler with extra pages in her passport and stamps from 41 different countries across 5 continents (and counting). She was born and raised in Texas. After a 13 year stint in NYC, she moved to England to live with her husband.