20121202_A Cotswolds Circular Walk from Blockley (2nd Half)

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

Who : Coventry CHA Rambling Club

Where : Cotswold Hills

Start & End Point Point : SP164,349 Centre of Blockley, near the village store

20121202_Blockley Cotswolds Circular WalkFull Walk Distance : Approx 11.5 miles (18.5 km)

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.

20121202-25_Longborough Memorial Cross + Village Green by gary.haddenThis 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 20121202-26_Graveyard - Longborough - Cotswolds by gary.haddenseven 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 20121202-27_Swans Head - Gate Lever by gary.haddenan 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 20121202-28_Sezincote House - Indianesque Dome by gary.hadden– 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.

20121202-30_pproaching Bourton-on-the-Hill from Sezincote by gary.haddenMore 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 20121202-33_Cotswold Track - Near Batsford Arboretum by gary.haddentop 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.

20121202-35_Coventry CHA Rambling Club - Our Leaders for the day by gary.hadden

20121202-34_Blockley from the south by gary.haddenThis 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 20121202-36_Winter Sky + Silhouettes by gary.haddenmuddy 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.

20121202-37_Church - Blockley - Cotswolds by gary.haddenFrom 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.

20121202-38_Blockley Village Store + Cafe - Bell Str - High Str by gary.haddenAfter a panicky start to the day, it had turned out fine, and I’m really glad I made the effort to rush around and drive myself down into the Cotswolds for 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.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

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20121202_A Cotswolds Circular Walk from Blockley (1st Half)

20121202_A Cotswolds Circular Walk from Blockley

1st Half … Blockley to Longborough :- Via Bourton Downs and Hinchwick.

A Coventry CHA Rambling Club “A+” Walk.

When : 2nd December 2012

Who : Coventry CHA Rambling Club

Where : Cotswold Hills

20121202_Blockley Cotswolds Circular WalkStart & End Point Point : SP164,349 Centre of Blockley, near the village store

Full Walk Distance : Approx 11.5 miles (18.5 km)

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 : First 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 20121202-05_Cotswold Cottages - High Street - Blockley by gary.haddenvillages of Longborough and Bourton-on-the-Hill and also Batsford Arboretum’s garden centre cafe.

More Pic’s to follow in while …. If you click on a pic’  it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

After my recent diary of the Coventry CHA’s Stanton to Broadway walk, this diary write up is from a few weeks later, being from the beginning of December (2012), and just like the Stanton walk, the weather was also very frosty.

The Stanton walk I’d been on with the CHA three weeks before, was about 10 miles long, and was in a similar area, so when I learnt that my Sister and her friend Jenny were again leading this walk I decided to give it a go. Now, just as a bit of back-ground, the CHA run a coach every Sunday (A+B walks) but about once a month, a more strenuous walk is organised, this is known as the A+ walk. More strenuous is quite a subjective term, which could be down to the type of terrain, heights gained, distances walked or how far away from Coventry the journey is, or most likely a combination of several of these factors. Transport is by shared cars (or sometimes a mini-bus I think) rather than the coach to get to the start point, at which juncture the leader gathers everyone that’s turned up and leads the walk for the day. For today’s walk, I’d arranged to drive to Coventry and share a lift to Blockley with my sis’.

20121202-01_Twelve Midnight - But is it really by gary.haddenNow, this should have been quite straight forward, other than there must have been a power cut or something in the night which had turned off my alarm clock and when I was woken by my lovely wife with a start, all it was doing was flashing 12:00 midnight at me !!! The real time was 7:40 giving me just 20 minutes to get dressed, pack ruck-sack, grab walking boots, make sandwiches, fill flask, scrape ice off car and then drive the ten miles or so from Rugby to Coventry !!! ARGHHHH !!!  some things really are IMPOSSIBLE !!!! … I think I probably swore at myself more than once and at every inanimate object that wouldn’t behave as it should … The old adage of “MORE SPEED LESS HASTE” is very true!

The solution was to do everything (as quickly as possible) EXCEPT the drive to Coventry and instead drive straight to Blockley from my home :- Certainly, less cost effective but with a chance that I’d arrive pretty close to the 9:00 am rendezvous time. A phone call confirmed where we were to meet, and I grabbed a road map to see just were Blockley is …. Luckily it’s not far off The Fosse Way; The dead straight Roman Road runs very close to my home and that was the route I was very soon 20121202-38_Blockley Village Store + Cafe - Bell Str - High Str by gary.haddenheading down, being very wary of potential surface water and/or black ice (we’d had a lot of recent rain and it was freezing). I arrived at 9:03 and found a parking spot immediately behind my sister’s car just up the road from the village store near to the church. I don’t know why but I was expecting maybe a dozen or more walkers to turn up, but it turned out there were only seven of us, including the two leaders and me, so it didn’t take long for us to gather and move off down the road passing in front of the 20121202-03_Cotswold Cottages - High Street - Blockley by gary.haddenold village store and heading off along Bell Lane/High St. in a roughly south/south westerly direction.

High street is quite long, a ribbon of settlement stretching out from the village centre, meaning there was a fair bit of road and pavement walking to start with. But that didn’t matter, as many of the houses and cottages are of attractive Cotswold Stone construction; an eclectic mix of buildings; some large and imposing some small and quaint, some detached, some in terraces and some accessible via pathways raised up above the road.

It was a nice easy start to the walk, being gently downhill, but that had to change!; so after passing Day’s Lane (off to the right) and Brook Lane (off to the left) and after passing Vine Cottage we took the next right side road. This was really more a posh drive way than road and we had to paddle across cross a mini flood flowing across the junction, the water having broken out from the adjacent garden’s brook. 20121202-07_Warren House - Blockley by gary.haddenThe driveway rose gently beside an extensive garden with lawns and ponds rising up to a very impressive looking property (Warren House I think it’s called). A short while up the drive we branched off to the left to rise up through some woods, but this didn’t last long as we soon reached a farm track heading up through the middle of some boring ploughed fields. The rise warranted a degree of effort from me, not so much because it was overly steep, but the gradient was significant enough and it did seem to go on for longer than it probably was; I definitely need to get fitter.

As we gained height some wide views opened up behind us (but I had to turn around to see them), nothing overly spectacular, but the feeling was much more airy than before, and the openness continued for a while as the gradient leveled off and the track led us through a few more fields to reach the A44 main road (Called Five Mile Drive here). We had to take a right along the roadside verges for a very short distance, before turning left 20121202-08_Coventry CHA Walkers - South West of Blockley by gary.haddento pick up a path on the opposite side of the road, heading roughly in the same direction as before (approx south westerly).

The track, hard with frost, narrowed somewhat, with rough grasses growing down the middle forcing us to walk one behind the other as we started to descend towards an area of woodland which was soon exited to enter a grassy field. The extent of the recent rainfall was very apparent with an impromptu, not normally there, stream having to be crossed. My great long legs did this relatively easily (with just a little splashing) and once over I found a loose log to position in the new watercourse for the others to use as a “stepping stone” (my apologies to Jenny for nearly splashing her in the process!!!). The field then led us down to meet a farm track, where we again had to negotiate some surface water, which wasn’t too bad, but you could see the stream had been in quite a state of flood not long before. After the soggy field and little bit of paddling the rock hard frosty 20121202-09_Cotswold Landscape - Looking towards Bourton Downs by gary.haddentrack was quite a welcome change and we soon reached and passed a building to reach a minor road in a shallow valley. After crossing the road into a grassy field we stopped for a short refreshment stop.

One of the ladies then kindly took the opportunity to comment about my blog, she’d obviously read some of my previous posts (in particular my Hatton Locks walk) and she was most complimentary about my writings, even to the point of saying it was romantic in style. Well, I’m not used to such praise, it’s an odd feeling how modesty juxtaposes with a little pride. It is gratifying to think someone likes your work though. Enough of that, we had a short hill to climb, heading up the side of the field through some scrub hawthorn. It felt like we were heading more or less in the same direction as before, but by now we’d swung southwards heading into an area on my map called Bourton Downs. We crested the rise where we joined another farm track running down the side of a Leylandii hedge.

Now, you’ve probably got an image of a garden hedge of about 6 or 7 feet high – Well, this one was a tad bigger than this, difficult to say just how tall but, at a guess, 20121202-10_Leylandii Hedge - Leyland Cypress by gary.haddenat least 35 to 40 feet high and really thick in depth as well, obviously being used as a wind screen. I’ve read that these trees can grow to 115 feet tall and maybe more (that’s a lot of tree). If there’s ever an advert to persuade people to never plant Cypress Leylandii Trees in their town gardens then this should be it – Apart from these plants wanting to be huge stand alone trees, they are also in my humble opinion very drab ugly trees – Don’t do it! Please find a better, more apt, prettier thing to grow.

The puddle strewn track continued on the flat, passing what looks like it could have been an old WW2 concrete bunker before starting the descent of a grassy sheep field. It’s kind of funny that the rolling hills and valleys of the surrounding farmland, although quite pleasant, were usurped by some quite dramatic broken cloud cover, highlighted by the low sun we were walking towards. Before reaching the bottom of the slope we turned left, to again rise, still on the grassy field to skirt what became the top edge of an attractively curving valley below us on our right.

20121202-11_Winter Sky above Bourton Downs - Cotswolds by gary.hadden

20121202-12_Coventry CHA Walkers - Bourton Downs - Cotswolds by gary.hadden

20121202-13_Muddy Path - The Warren - Approaching Hinchwick by gary.haddenThe open views were soon to end though as we headed into another area of woods (known as The Warren) and immediately picked up a narrow path. The surrounding trees and scrub had obviously protected the path from the frost, resulting in lots of unavoidable slippery mud instead of a nice hard surface to walk on … To be honest this bit of the walk was just a bit ughy! However we soon descended to pick up yet another track and conditions underfoot improved accordingly – at least for a while – 20121202-14_Muddy Track - Hinchwick - Cotswolds by gary.haddenFor at the bottom where the track met a minor road [near Hinchwick] there was an extensive area of sticky churned up mud to negotiate, the mess being fed with water from an adjacent flooded field. Conditions soon improved though, crossing the road into a grassy field. Turning eastwards now, we had a reasonable length of uphill and a gradient enough to raise a bit of a sweat and tax the old leg muscles a little. Behind us, the attractive buildings and enclosed grounds of Hinchwick Manor added to the view, perfectly proportioned in the landscape.

20121202-15_Climbing away from Hinchwick - Cotswolds by gary.hadden

20121202-16_Gnarled Beech Tree Roots by gary.haddenI was quite happy to have a little breather at the top of the rise where the route crossed a stile. On the other side, the route eased to almost flat again, now skirting alongside of some mature beech trees slightly raised up on an earth bank. I like beech trees! especially the way the surface roots of older trees break out from the ground, gnarled and twisted, mirroring the shapes in the branches above.

A little way along here, the line of trees and earth bank/ditch were shaped into an arching semi-circular clearing, where a lone monolithic lump of slate, pointing to the skies, stood proud, isolated in the wide landscape but protected at the same time by the half ring of trees. 20121202-17_Slate Memorial - Above Hinchwick by gary.haddenSlate in the midst of Cotswold limestone felt very odd; it turned to be a memorial to Hase and Michael Asquith. The inscription on the back in deep shadow reads “HE WHO SHALL TRAIN THE HORSE TO WAR SHALL NEVER PASS THE POLAR BAR” and attributed to WILLIAM BLAKE. Later I found this to be from his poem The Auguries of Innocence. The rather odd quotation intrigued me especially the meaning of “THE POLAR BAR”. A trawl on the internet really proved just as baffling, as many people seem to be as equally bamboozled as me. It’s a fairly obvious anti-war sentiment, and I assume the Asquiths were horse lovers. I suppose the overall sentiment is that not passing the “polar bar” alludes to never going to heaven.

20121202-18_Coventry CHA walkers - Between Hinchwick + Ganborough by gary.haddenMoving on, we then had a short but quite steep descent into a small valley, and then immediately had an equally short but steeper climb directly opposite to climb out of the said valley … again heading for more woods. My poor old knees certainly didn’t like the drop and I was pleased I’d taken a walking pole to help ease the strain; the climb up wasn’t half as uncomfortable, and the terrain eased again as we reached the top of the rise with a bit of a surprise for us.

20121202-19_Horse Training Race Track + Railings - Cotswolds by gary.haddenThe surprise?

Well, we emerged out onto a race track, a horse racing race track, well actually a horse racing training race track, complete with white painted railings and a pristinely manicured sandy surface, looking like someone had very carefully raked the sand smooth and flat, although this would easily have taken a month of Sundays to achieve, so in reality it was obviously done by some kind of machine.

20121202-20_Horse Training Race Track + Ruined Hans Hill Farm Buildings by gary.hadden

20121202-21_Coventry CHA Walkers - Cotswolds - Nr Ganborough by gary.haddenWe now had easy walking alongside the race track until we reached a dilapidated run-down ruined group of farm buildings (so run down it’d be quite a renovation challenge, even for a grand design TV type project). The sandy race track abruptly ended here, to simply merge into a conventional farm track; this in turn easily led us down to a minor road and then, after a left turn, down to the A424 main road.

20121202-22_Winertime Woods nr Longborough - Cotswols by gary.haddenA right turn, for just a few yards, and then a careful cross over, brought us into yet another small area of woodland, the obvious path quickly taking us past a small fenced off odd quarry area and thence on to a junction of minor roads heading off in three directions. We ignored the sign to Sezincote / Bourton-On-The-hill and the one pointing to Stow-On-The-Wold / Broadway, instead heading off down the road towards Longborough / Morton-In-Marsh. The minor road bought us down into the village of Longborough (½ a mile according to the sign-post) and the promise of a pub to coincide with our lunch stop.

20121202-25_Longborough Memorial Cross + Village Green by gary.haddenSo this ends the first half of the walk … If you’d like to hear about the second half, please see my next diary which will follow soon.

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.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20121202_Leyland Cypress [ Leylandii ] Hedge – A bit bigger than you’d imagine a hedge to be.

20121202_Leyland Cypress [ Leylandii ] Hedge – A bit bigger than you’d imagine a hedge to be.

Whilst doing a circular walk starting and finishing in Blockley in the Cotswolds, during the morning we’d swung southwards heading into an area on my map called Bourton Downs. As we crested a rise, we joined a farm track running down the side of a Leylandii hedge.

20121202-10_Leylandii Hedge - Leyland Cypress by gary.hadden

Now, you’ve probably got an image of a garden hedge of about 6 or 7 feet high – Well, this one was a tad bigger than this, difficult to say just how tall but, at a guess, at least 35 to 40 feet high and really thick in depth as well, obviously being used as a major wind screen.

A hybrid cross between The Alaskan Cypress [hardy] and The Monterey Cypress of California [fast growing], I’ve read that these trees can grow to 115 feet tall and maybe more (that’s a lot of tree) and can grow at a rate of over 2.5 feet per year. If there’s ever an advert to persuade people to never plant Leylandii Trees in their town gardens then this should be it – Apart from these plants wanting to be huge stand alone trees, they are also in my humble opinion very drab ugly trees – Don’t do it! Please find a better, more apt, prettier hedging plant to grow.

I you are an aficionado of the plant in small town gardens, and for some reason you actually like these trees, I think we will always  have a difference in opinion.

Anyway, enough of that, T.T.F.N. Gary.

20121111-17_Snowshill from the West

Taken during a Coventry CHA Rambling Club walk on 11th November 2012. The route chosen by the leader was for us to emerge from a small wood and immediately be presented with this beautiful view across pastoral fields to the village of Snowshill … Superb! …. and the pub in the village was pretty good too.

20121111_Stanton-Stanway-Snowshill-Broadway Coventry CHA Rambling Club Walk

20121111_Stanton  – Stanway – Snowshill – Broadway Coventry CHA Rambling Club Walk

20121111-10_Autumn Colours - Lidcombe Wood - Cotswolds by gary.haddenWhen : 11 November 2012 [Remembrance Day]

Who : Coventry CHA Rambling Club, Sunday Walk

Where : Cotswolds, England

Start Point : SP 068,344

End Point : SP 090,376

Distance : Approx 10 miles (16 km) including the wander up into Broadway at the end of the day.

Significant heights : 2 “climbs” worth noting …. The first after leaving Stanway of approx 660 ft (200m) in the morning, and the 2nd after lunch in Snowshill of approx 230 ft (70m)

Maps used : once I got home to look at the route : 1:50,000 OS Landranger Map No 150, but I know the leaders used an OS 1:25,000 map – I think Outdoor Leisure Map No.45 The Cotswolds.

Summary : A sunny day, across varied terrain, very pretty villages, superb autumn colours, and good company … A hilly but really not very strenuous walk in The Cotswolds lead by Janet and Jenny with The Coventry CHA rambling club – 21 of us doing the linear walk.

Click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

After my last few diary entries looking back at the start of the year, this diary write up is more up-to-date, being from a few weeks ago, and what a stunningly beautiful day it was for a walk. We’d been20121111_Stanton-Stanway-Snowshill-Broadway Walk - Cov CHA Rambling Club having poor weather (like much of 2012), but the forecast from some way out had been for this particular Sunday might be dry and with the promise of maybe a drop of Sunshine (wow), and it didn’t disappoint despite having to remove a good layer of frost from the car first thing in the morning.

Unlike the Midland Hill Walkers Club (that I’ve walked with most recently) whose coach sets off at 7:00 a.m. the Coventry CHA Rambling Club walks start at a more civilised time of at least an hour later. For today’s walk, the coach set off at 8:30 am from the bus-stop lay-by outside The Coventry Sports Centre & Swimming Pool entrance on Fairfax Street … conveniently opposite a large car park. I used to walk very often with the CHA some 20+ almost 30 years ago now and as my sister (Janet) and her good friend (Jenny) were leading the walk and as there was ample space on the coach, I thought I’d join them and catch up with some old friends..

I also thought it could serve as a bit of a test of my poor old semi-knackered knees; I’d had arthroscopy surgery on them both the previous December and although better than before, I hadn’t plucked up enough courage to get out and about with either the MHW or CHA clubs in the intervening time; I had no wish to have any problems out on the hills and so disrupt the leaders’ job with potentially up to 40-50 other people to consider. Having my sister in-control, kind of made it easier as she could tell me how strenuous the day was to be in advance and she’d have the confidence in me being able to tell her how I was getting on should there be a problem.

Anyway, I’d taken the plunge and enjoyed chatting with several old friends from the club that I hadn’t seen for some time during the coach journey down into the Cotswolds. It 20121111-01_Cotswold Cottages - Stanton by gary.haddendidn’t seem long before we’d reached the pretty village of Stanton (not far from the very famous Broadway). Stanton is a peaceful village, but early on a cold frosty autumn Sunday morning it was incredibly subdued, even the normally warm toned, honey coloured, stone of the cottages seemed to have taken on an aura of frosty silvery grey. I think these Cotswold villages are beautiful, not stunningly spectacular like some sights, but perfectly understated and simply proportioned in a very English way; you might even say quintessentially English, a timeless link back through the centuries and hopefully on into the future.

The coach dropped us off in the village, but only disgorged twenty-one of us, (including the two leaders) where we rescued our ruck-sacks from the coach’s hold. The rest of the passengers were to do a much shorter “B” walk or simply just head into Broadway for its multitude of cafes, pubs, shops, ET-al for the day. Rather than the potential of 40-50 20121111-04_Long Shadows - Between Stanton + Stanway - Cotswolds by gary.haddenpeep’s, 21 is a nice number to lead and we happily set off through the village on quiet roads to find and take a path heading more or less southwards across grassy fields bounded by mature hedgerows and some full grown specimen trees. We had a small amount of elevation which afforded some lovely views over to our right, and, to our left, the hillside rose up and away from us covered in long shadows, showing the relief of the ground in fantastic detail. I just loved it, and as we moved on, the farmland almost felt like parkland, reminiscent of a Capability Brown landscape.

20121111-05_Autumn Colours - Between Stanton + Stanway by gary.hadden

20121111-07_Autumn Colours - Between Stanton + Stanway by gary.hadden

The morning was turning out to be quite gorgeous, cold but with a bright blue sky, minimal white clouds and the early morning sun was lighting up the autumn colours in the trees and wider landscape brilliantly – enough to make your heart sing and add a spring to your step – Superb! and we hadn’t even had to go up hill yet, the hardest thing we’d been tasked to do being the crossing an old ridge and furrow field; crossing the 20121111-08_Coventry CHA Rambling Club - In Silhouette by gary.haddenancient farming system at 90-degrees to the ridges, making it seem you were going up and down a series of waves frozen in perpetuity.

After about a mile and a half, we entered and walked through the next village on our route – Stanway (almost a twin of Stanton) with it’s impressive church next to the old Manor House. I’d have taken some pictures, but I was in conversation as we passed through and it would have been rude to break off from our chat so you’ll just have to look elsewhere on the WWW to find some images of the pretty village. Being Remembrance Sunday/Armistice Day (11th November) there was a service in full voice going on inside, an echo of similar services in churches the length and breadth of the country.

Once we’d followed the lane through the village we met the B4077 where we turned left on a narrow footpath by the side of the road and started on the first climb of the day. The word climb suggests some hard work was now necessary, but it wasn’t really, so maybe first RISE of the day would be better suited to the story. A few cars sped past as we rose past a few cottages until the road bent round to the right and we carried pretty much straight on, on a rough drive, at a small group of buildings. After regrouping, from here we picked up a path/track heading up into some woods (Lidcombe Wood) still rising, this time a little steeper and rougher under foot now. The colours in the trees were absolutely lovely, spectacular even when lit up by the sun, both on the tree branches and 20121111-11_Autumn Colours - Lidcombe Wood - Cotswolds by gary.haddenthose that had succumbed to time and gravity and now littered the woodland floor. After a while we took a left hand branch of paths and came up to a small building housing some information about the area and commanding some nice views into a valley below. This became a coffee stop for a few minutes and a place where we could stand for a couple of minutes to observe the Remembrance Day two minutes silence at 11:00 am. There was a perceptible change in mood, as our predominantly jolly demeanour became a little more subdued – and quite rightly so.

We then returned to our earlier path up through the woods, turning left to continue the rise up the hillside and after a while took a right to climb more steeply up through the trees. 20121111-13_Coventry CHA Rambling Club - Autumn in the Cotswolds by gary.haddenWe’d become a little spread out during the climb, so a regrouping was necessary at the top of the rise, just where open countryside was regained.

The way ahead was now pretty much on the level, heading down the left hand side of a ploughed field and with the woods on our left until we reached the corner of the field. We now had a series of field boundaries to follow (ploughed ones at that) to follow, at first to the east and then almost due north. Although on the level, the route wasn’t all plain sailing 20121111-14_Muddy Fields on the Cotswold Way by gary.haddenthough, and that was due to the conditions under-foot – MUD and then some more MUD ! I’m probably exaggerating a little, but it was quite grotty, especially where one field crossed into the next, funneling all farm traffic through a restricted gap and so churning up the ground. There’s also something particularly sticky about mud that’s been frozen and then just thawed, walking boots just double in weight in next to no time – YUK.

Eventually (it was probably less time than it seemed) we emerged out of the mud onto a minor road, where we turned right, almost doubling back on ourselves, walking on hard 20121111-15_Autumn Colours - Cotswolds by gary.haddenflat tarmac almost seemed like heaven to my knees which had been feeling the strain in the muddy conditions.

We now had a different area of woods on our left (Littleworth Wood) and after a short time we branched off to the left into these woods descending gently as we went; once again, the colours were superb..

20121111-18_Approaching Snowshill from the West by gary.haddenNow, the reason we endured the muddy fields (rather than take a possible shorter route) became apparent – As we emerged from the woods into a grassy field (with sheep grazing) a lovely view opened up ahead of us looking over green fields, woods and hedgerows to the village of Snowshill, nestled into the hillside; a gentle scene, but beautiful none-the-less, especially with a lovely blue sky as a backdrop. Snowshill was our destination for lunch, which meant crossing diagonally down the grassy field to join another minor road.

20121111-19_Cotswold Lane + Autumn Colours by gary.hadden

20121111-20_Colourful Sheep Sculptures + Snowshill by gary.haddenAlmost directly opposite in another grassy field, were three life sized “fake” sheep in different patterns, the artwork advertising a local guesthouse. We turned right on the road to reach a tee-junction, where we turned left, downhill, and then followed this minor road for quite a way. I liked the dappled light on the earth banks to the side of the road, although my knees weren’t enjoying the descent on the tarmac, I’m pleased I’d taken walking poles with me – I really need to build up my muscles around my knees again!

20121111-21_Dappled Light - Hedgerow by gary.hadden

20121111-23_Cotswolds Church + Pub - Snowshill by gary.hadden

After a while, we entered the small village of Snowshill and soon found ourselves outside the pub (The Snowshill Arms), near the church and next door to The Manor House (National Trust). We were given an hour for lunch; enough time to eat our packed lunches (on the small green) and purchase refreshments in the hostelry.  There was also time for me to take a little wander in the village to take a few pic’s before we all met up again.

20121111-24_Cotswold Cottages - Snowshill by gary.hadden

20121111-25_Moss Pillows - Roof Tiles- Snowshill Manor by gary.hadden

20121111-26_Snowshill Manor - National Trust by gary.hadden

Unusually, we now had to back-track some of our earlier route, following the road back up the hill on the minor roads, all the way to the place where we saw the three advertising sheep “sculptures”.

20121111-20_Colourful Sheep Sculptures + Snowshill by gary.hadden    20121111-19_Cotswold Lane + Autumn Colours by gary.hadden

20121111-16_Snowshill from the West by gary.haddenFrom here we re-crossed the sheep field, up into and through the woods still heading uphill until we regained the earlier minor road. After the longish climb we had become a little spread out again, so another regroup was required before turning right along the tarmac to again reach the place where we’d exited the muddy ploughed fields. Thankfully we did not need to re-do the ‘orrible mud, nope, we carried on, on the road, for a short distance before branching right down a driveway 20121111-27_Cotswold Way Path by gary.haddenheading towards a farm, but ignoring a further branch going completely down to the buildings. The fenced track started to swing round to the right narrowing now; as we moved on wide views to the north opened up over the lowlands of The Vale of Evesham.

We were now following a section of The Cotswold Way and we had to descend down the side of a grassy field. The gradient was not overly steep but proved to be quite awkward for me (and I think others) because of the very wet and slippery conditions underfoot. My knees were now feeling rather tired and they really didn’t enjoy the extra strain, feeling like they could give way beneath me at any moment. But I took my time, overcoming the discomfort (well pain might be more accurate) using my walking poles as an aid – They really do help! – and soon reached the far corner where we walked into a rather scruffy farmyard with various trucks and the like, and a smoky fire in the distance. Luckily we only had to skirt the edge of the farm picking up a track still descending but much easier than before and again heading pretty much due north.

20121111-29_Broadway Tower from the West by gary.hadden

There isn’t much to say about the immediate surroundings here, with fairly boring fields either side, but the view over to the right is worth noting as the attractive hillside rises up to Broadway Tower, with a good smattering of hedgerows, lone trees and woodland adding an orange tinge to the green pastures all offset against a brilliantly clear blue sky.  After a final drop, passing by/through Broadway Coppice/Pye Corner Coppice the path 20121111-30_Autumn Colours near Broadway by gary.haddenswung right to cross a minor road (West End Lane) and then headed over a grassy field towards a church tower on the outskirts of Broadway Village. The earlier descents had dropped us off the Cotswold Scarp, with Broadway sitting down on the edge of The Vale of Evesham (Evesham town is only about four or five miles away along the A44) and we soon reached Snowshill Road just south of the church.

20121111-31_Cov CHA Ramblers approaching Broadway Church by gary.hadden

20121111-32_Memorial Green - High Street Broadway by gary.haddenIt now felt like we’d finished the walk, but we still had a fair way to go; into Broadway along Church Street; then, at the green at the bottom of High Street a turn left along the A44 (Station Road) and then another left turn into Cheltenham Road and then a further right turn into Childswickham Road to find our coach waiting for us in a coach/car park. Here we got ourselves changed into clean clothes and normal footwear and then promptly headed all the way back into Broadway to find a tea shop for final refreshments before 20121111-33_Honey Coloured Cotswold Stone Building - Broadway by gary.haddenthe journey home.

A super days walk, well led (thanks Jan and Jenny) with plenty of interest all helped of course by no rain and a lovely drop of sunshine – it really makes a difference. All in all a good day and pleasing that on the whole my knees stood up to the rigours of ten miles with some hilly bits, the most I’d put them through since my op’s almost a year previously.

Well, 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.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

TeamHedengrens 4-day Bath Circular Walk

I had some correspondnce with some people from the USA earlier in the year, (they’d found one or two of my diary posts from my walks around Lacock in Wiltshire and they asked a few questions about walking in England) …..  it looks like they had a good trip walking in the Bath/Lacock area of the south Cotswolds … Here’s a link to their Blogger Blog ….

TTFN. Gary

20101212_Photos Added on Flickr – Midland Hill Walkers December Walk

20101212 – Midland Hill Walkers – Cleeve Hill Walk – December 12th 2010

This picture taken at the top of Nottingham Hill.

No words at the moment, but for anyone interested there’s a set of photo’s on Flickr …. Just click on this link …. or … for a slide show use this link.

Hope you enjoy.

TTFN.

Gary

Next post  = 20091115_ Llyn Celyn to Pentrefoelas Walk – Wales (near Bala)