The Common covers an area of 405 hectares (1000 acres) including the highest point of the Cotswold Hills, at 330 metres (1083 feet) above sea level. There are spectacular views across the Severn Vale to the Malvern Hills (left), the Forest of Dean and beyond to the Black Mountains in South Wales and the hills of Shropshire. To the east stretch the gently undulating slopes of the Cotswolds dipping towards the low vales of Oxfordshire.
The landscape of the Common is typical of the Cotswolds in general with an escarpment, hilltop and dip slope. The scarp slope, on the front of the Common, is the most accessible while the hilltop (right) is wide open grassland used extensively for recreation (including the golf course).
The dip slope at the back of the Common includes deep valleys such as Padcombe Bottom (left). This is often referred to as the 'wilderness area', rich in plant, insect and bird life and a place where you can enjoy a true ‘away from it all’ feeling.
Although it is the forces of nature that gave the Common its basic form, the influence of man has considerably modified it. Like most of Britain, Cleeve Common was once covered with dense woodland. This was cleared from around 6000 years ago to make way for farming. But the shallow, stony soil and harsh climate have limited the agricultural possibilities; the grassland you see today results from thousands of years of seasonal grazing.
Quarrying for stone, gravel and sand in recent centuries has left striking but unnatural rock faces and disused workings, particularly along the front face of the hill and the valley sides further back.