If you were visiting Shakespeare’s England in late May and you happened upon Dover’s Hill – the very start of the Cotswolds escarpment near to the town of Chipping Campden – one Friday evening, you may have been taken back by the sight of crowds of people sitting on the hillside watching grown men kicking each other’s shins!
But why were they doing such a strange thing? Well, it was the World Championship of shin kicking which is one of the many events that make-up the legendary Cotswolds Olimpicks.
The Cotswolds Olimpicks is a multi event sporting festival that takes place once a year at the end of May at the base of Dover’s Hill and was the brainchild of local lawyer Robert Dover in 1612 – which the hill is now named after.
Events include sports such as tug-of-war, jumping and running races but it’s the Shin Kicking that people come from miles around to see.
It’s a primitive form of wrestling that sees competitors lock shoulders and attempt to wrestle their opponent to the floor by administering kicks to the shins only. There are rules – adjudicated by the referee who is known as the Stickler – but, essentially, the last man standing is crowned the World Champion of Shin Kicking at the end of the evening each year!
It is the finale to a bizarre but brilliant traditional event that is well worth attending if you’re ever in Shakespeare’s England at the end of May.
Even if you’re unable to attend The Olimpicks, Dover’s Hill is still well worth visit at any time of the year as it offers fabulous views right across the Vale of Evesham and as far as the city of Coventry. The land is now owned by the National Trust and is free open walking land. It’s less than 15 miles from the town of Stratford-upon-Avon and is easily accessible on a day tour with Go Cotswolds (it’s the first stop on the tour) or for the more adventurous, you can visit it as part of a walk from the town of Chipping Campden.