20121202_A Cotswolds Circular Walk from Blockley
2nd Half … Longborough to Blockley :- via Sezincote, Bourton-on-the-Hill and Batsford Arboretum’s Garden Centre Cafe.
A Coventry CHA Rambling Club “A+” Walk.
When : 2nd December 2012
Where : Cotswold Hills
Start & End Point Point : SP164,349 Centre of Blockley, near the village store
And Significant heights : Approx 1310 ft (400m) spread throughout the day, over maybe 6 or 7 ups and as many downs.
Maps used once I got home to look at the route : 1:50,000 OS Landranger Maps No. 151 + a tiny bit on No.163, but I know the leaders used an OS 1:25,000 map – I think Outdoor Leisure Map No.45 The Cotswolds (I think I need to buy that one!)
Full Walk Summary : Second half of a circular country walk starting and finishing in the village of Blockley (sort of mid-way between Morton-In-Marsh and Chipping Campden) and taking in rolling Cotswold countryside, including the villages of Longborough and Bourton-on-the-Hill and also Batsford Arboretum’s garden centre cafe.
If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.
This is the continuation of my previous diary which described the first half of the walk from Blockley to Longborough via Bourton Downs and Hinchwick. This, the second half, takes the walk on from Longborough back to Blockley via Bourton-on-the-Hill.
We’d arrived in Longborough, the sun had broken out, blue skies had emerged from the cloud cover and the village green with stone memorial cross became the ideal place to break out our packed lunches – The pub (The Coach and Horses Inn, I think) didn’t have the expected pull on us at-all, and once we’d eaten our lunches, we all seven of us unanimously chose to ignore its charms and carry on with the walk. This meant retracing our steps up the road a short way before turning right (northwards) to pass between an area of allotment gardens and a church graveyard.
There followed an unremarkable stretch of farmland, a broad rough track led us down the bottom of some bare fields alongside a hedge to reach the end of a narrow strip of woods. Again fairly unremarkable, except for the attractively fashioned lever on an iron gate we had to pass through. The gracefully bent metal became a neck and the end knob a simple swans head, complete with eye-brows. A short field later we reached and crossed a driveway to enter the grounds of Sezincote. This rather strange looking building is an odd amalgam of Cotswold stone topped off with a turquoise coloured dome, reminiscent of The Prince Regents’ Pavilion in Brighton – I wasn’t sure if it was Arabic, Far Eastern or Indianesque in style, but it’s definitely not English! To my eyes, the building as a whole is not unattractive in a funny sort of way, but really, I don’t think I like it much. The grounds we were walking through however were very English with a parkland feel about them, dropping down to a small lake complete with the bare bones of two tepee or wigwam structures on the near bank-side … Another cultural influence from yet another part of the world.
More semi-parkland and then more fields led us further north to reach Bourton-on-the-Hill, pretty much aiming for the village church’s tower as we went. This was gentle walking even if a little soggy underfoot at times and we soon found ourselves meeting the A44 main road. Turning right (easterly), we now had a good stretch of road walking to do (just under a km), well actually on surfaced footpaths by the side of the road, so perfectly safe from the traffic. After a while, we reached a surfaced drive heading off on our left. This is the entrance to Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre and The Cotswold Falconry Centre. Incidentally, opposite is another drive serving as the entrance into Sezincote which we’d walked past earlier. The entrance signs announce it to be “Indian House and Gardens”. Our route was to take the Arboretum drive rising steadily uphill for one kilometre and then find our way into the Garden Centre and Cafe via the large car-park area.
The cafe was surprisingly busy, with most indoor tables being taken with people enjoying Sunday lunches etc.; Given the number of diners and feeling quite self-conscious of muddy boots and ruck-sacks etc., (I can feel VERY big in these circumstances) I suggested we sit outside on the terrace with our teas and coffees, which turned out to be very pleasant. I took the opportunity to study Janet’s map where she’d marked the route. Our circle was nearly complete with one more rise and a descent to negotiate to return to Blockley. The route was to head back to the top of the entrance drive (to a lone building) and then take a path heading approx north westerly to pick up a track heading uphill through some trees and then later with some quite pleasant views off to our left.
As the track reaches a wood and makes a sweeping bend to the left, our route branched off to the right on a narrow path (it could be very easy to miss this path if you are enjoying the views or simply just chatting). This path climbs quite quickly at first, following the right hand edge of the woods, with the Arboretum’s boundary immediately on our right and again, I felt I had to overcome my lack of fitness and put in a bit of work, but the steep rise didn’t last too long; the gradient easing as we went, crossing a minor road before starting to descend gently down a field or two to form a T-junction with another footpath crossing left to right (or right to left if you prefer) at a line of trees.
This point immediately afforded some super views out over Blockley and the surrounding farmland. The afternoon light had become quite muted and subdued as it had clouded in somewhat but it was still pleasant to be out and about. This feeling was to be tested however, as, after a left turn on the adjoining path; we had to turn right into another grassy field dropping quite quickly away from us. A grassy field on its own wouldn’t normally be a problem, but this one was particularly wet and muddy and churned up and ughy and not easy to keep your feet from slipping from under you. I don’t think anyone actually came a cropper but I certainly had to make use of my walking pole to help stay upright and ease the discomfort in my knees.
From here, as the gradient eased, it didn’t take long to pass Park Farm to enter the outskirts of Blockley as we reached the B4479 (Lower Street). The walk was almost done; all that was required was a little street walking, rising up through the village and passing through the church grounds to reach Bell Lane near the old village store where we’d first met up …. and so our walk finished – Many thanks to Janet and Jenny for their planning, reconnoitering trip(s) and leadership on the day.
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.