Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Cotswold Way - Day 2

Friday, June 26, 2015  
Broadway to Stanway
5.8 miles with 832' of ascent

OK - everyone ready? Boots on and ready for the off? 
It's the second day of our walk along the glorious and typically-English Cotswold Way!
Both Pam and I are very pleased to have you on board for this next stage. Hope you enjoy it!

We're blessed with another fine day as we start out from Broadway and as we climb we can look back into this lovely Cotswold village with Broadway Tower on the skyline.

As we continue we're joined with the song of Skylarks way above us. We can't see them but they're definitely there.

A cloud moves slowly across the sun and a few minutes later we feel a spot or two of rain, which doesn't really detract from the soft landscape we're walking in and certainly doesn't stop me from spotting a few interesting invertebrates in the hedgerow:-

Nettle-tap Moth

This is a small micro-moth which is quite common most of the year. It's larvae spin themselves a home by curling a nettle leaf around them.

                        Agriphila straminella

This is one of the Grass Veneer micro-moths with a wing length of 12mm.

Cucumber spider

And I couldn't resist showing you this little beauty - the bright orange 7-spot is the most common ladybird in the UK (ladybugs if you're in the USA) but this is a 22-spot and not so common, so called because it has... you guessed it... 22 spots! This ladybird identification task is a doddle isn't it?

Colours never seem to clash in nature do they? This is red clover and what we used to call 'egg-and-bacon' flowers or more technically; Bird's Foot Trefoil. Don't they go well together?

And just look at this stunning Pyramid Orchid - one of many we see on today's walk.

The force of nature is quite remarkable too isn't it? This tree was obviously struck by lightning and not that long ago either.

For some time now, I've been on the look-out for a country retreat, somewhere remote, hidden, something small and unassuming, well off the beaten-track. This could be it! What do you think? A des res? Would you live here?

When life's work is done just put me out to pasture

We feel a spot of rain first, followed by sun, and then both together on our descent into Stanton

Where we spot these two magnificent beasts - friends forever.

We stand awhile and listen to the sounds around us. Prominent are the simultaneous call of a chiff-chaff and the complicated but shrill song of a nearby Robin.

We stand and watch the butterflies as the sun comes out once more. There are Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Speckled woods and a lone Small Skipper.  

Very soon we arrive at the wonderfully tranquil village of Stanton. It seems like a secret village, so much so that I'm reluctant to even mention it here in case too many others are intrigued enough to visit. It totally lacks tourists, it's a villagers village if you know what I mean. It's so quiet, we whisper as we meander through it's small but main street. We see just one person around who seems to be delivering a bunch of flowers to some lucky recipient. There's a slowness of life here that's almost palpable, even the cat slowly ambles across the road with not a care in the world.

We stop to rest awhile on a bench in the centre of this quaint little place and we don't even mind as it starts to very lightly rain. We take out our umbrellas and laugh as we realise we both have bright red ones in our rucksacks and then we simultaneously spot we've each selected the same colour combination in clothes today; blue tee-shirts and khaki shorts! We must look more than a little odd to the occasional passer-by, but then I'm not even sure anyone has actually noticed us. In fact there's no-one else around. Shhhhhhh!

The village has a number of these delightful lamps dotted around. Charming.

Onwards now! Our end of day is nearing. Or at least the walking day.
Best be careful here though - keep together!

This is an interesting plaque just here on the outskirts of our day's walk-end, which seems to imply - to the uninitiated - that this is the actual start of the National Trail but it must have been simply announced and officially launched here.

So we arrive at Stanway and it's just 3pm - exactly as planned. Coming for a pint? Let's drive to Broadway...

Here we are and a perfect spot too! We'll sit here outside the Crown and Trumpet with a well-earned drink whilst Pam does what Pam does best; browsing around the shops! Cheers!

A lovely walk, with a couple of very short spells of light rain but warm all day even though the sun hardly broke through the clouds.

We'll see you all for Day 3 soon. We're off to eat at the Corner Cupboard in Winchcombe again tonight. There's a lovely waitress there who Pam has likened to Mrs Overall (Julie Walters) in Acorn Antiques! There's a definite resemblance! Hope she doesn't read this blog!

Walking Companions
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The more the merrier! And yet... you're all so quiet we hardly notice you're there. It's only at the end of each day you tend to make a comment, and talking of comments;-

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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Cotswold Way - Day 1

Thursday, June 25, 2015   
Chipping Campden to Broadway
5.75 miles with 634' of ascent

OK - everyone ready? Boots shiny, waterproofed and ready for the off? 
Oh... neat; new boots eh? 

It's the start of a new adventure for Pam and me and we're SOOOO pleased to have you on board with us to share the fun, the trials and the tribulations of a 100 mile walk through some of England's best countryside.

We start at the official start - by the ancient Old Market Hall in the lovely old town of Chipping Campden. The start coincides with another long-distance walk which passes through the town and one that we did a few years ago; The Heart of England Way.

Our plan for this walk is slightly different to our Severn Way walk which you may have followed. We aim to do this in 3 phases each of 5 or 6 days, each day averaging around 6 miles which is plenty when there's so much to see and explore en route. We'll be staying in a different B and B for each phase. Our first base is in the lovely hamlet of Postlip at the remote and charmingly rural Postlip Hall Farm, which is almost a mile drive along a farm track. It's in an idyllic spot surrounded by fields full of sheep, in fact it's a working farm with currently 3200 ewes and lambs! Apart from the sheep it's really quiet, and at night there's no light pollution whatsoever. Superb!

So this is the first phase consisting of 5 days walking culminating at Dowdeswell Wood some 29 miles and nearly 4000 ft of ascent away. 

When we walked the Severn Way we chose to use public transport as much as possible relying only occasionally on using the car. Having checked out transport facilities some time ago for The Cotswold Way I quickly realised it would be too big a challenge! Train stations are few and far between and most of the route is way off any bus routes. So - although not very green - we're using our 2 cars and shuttling them around from B and B to walk finish to walk start. It's the most convenient but I'd be the first to admit not the most eco-friendly method.

Anyway... onwards, best foot forward and all that!

Walking out of Chipping Campden we pass a lovely thatched and typically Cotswold cottage, but this one's a little different as it was, for a short time, the home of a famous English author.

It's not long before we're climbing up Dover's Hill with great views of Cotswold country. Pam has never been a lover of walking uphill, often soldiering on but continually moaning not quite 'under her breath' which I find mildly annoying and somewhat distracting when I'm enjoying the climb and the views as each step takes us higher. But... I've found a way of avoiding this; I keep far enough ahead and just out of ear-shot! Bliss!

She's happy enough when she reaches the top though!

Dover's Hill is where back in 1612 a Robert Dover started the fancifully-titled Olimpick Games which became very famous in their day and continued on an annual basis through to Victorian times when they were halted. 100 years later, in 1951, the games were resurrected  and still happen here every year where a castle is built as the base for such games as shin-kicking (ouch!) and sack racing, where participants are tied into a sack up to their necks! Sounds more fun than the real Olympic Games!

Descending the other side of the hill and looking closely at the map I was expecting to walk on hard Tarmac for quite a way, but a lovely path has been created following the edge of a field on the other side of the hedge. A pleasant surprise.

On then to something called The Mile Drive which is a long straight and wide path alongside an interesting hedgerow (i.e. teeming with wildlife of the small insectoral kind) and an equally interesting narrow meadow bordered by another hedge. 

Lots of bees, butterflies and other insects. It's great to see so many wild flowers too including the pretty Common Spotted Orchid.

And on to Broadway Tower high above the beautiful village of Broadway.

The privately owned tower was built as a folly in 1799 and stands on a hill over 1000 ft above sea-level with dramatic views (it is said) over no less than 16 counties. It was purchased in the 1980's by a German man whose daughter now owns it. She also owns and runs an upmarket, exclusive B and B in Broadway.

Down hill now to explore this lovely village. On the way we stop to admire the work of the dry-stone waller, a highly-skilled job necessitating many years of theory and practical exams before achieving the accolade of Master Craftsman. This particular area has been under restoration for at least 2 years and will continue until all of the existing and crumbling dry stone walls have been replaced right up the hill to the tower.

Finally we reach our day's end at The Swan for a pint and well-earned rest. The village of Broadway is often referred to as the  'Jewel of the Cotswolds' and the 'Show Village of England'. It's not hard to see why!

Tonight, we decide to eat at a pub/restaurant in Winchcombe, just a couple of miles away from our B and B and recommended by Valerie - our lovely landlady. It's called the Corner Cupboard and tonight is Steak Night; 2 sirloin steaks plus all the trimmings for just £22. Great value and an excellent end to an excellent day.

Catch you all soon for Day 2.


Walking Companions
If you'd like a friend or friends to come along too just send them the link:-

The more the merrier! I know we've said before we often walk on our own but you're so quiet we hardly notice you're there. It's only at the end of each day you tend to make a comment, and talking of comments;-

Don't forget to leave one below; help, advice, silly banter, words of encouragement are all very much welcomed and we know then you're definitely following us! Don't see 'Comments' below? It's because you're reading this post in an email or RSS feed - just click here to go to the main blog:-

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Cotswold Way

Pam and I will soon be setting out on a 100 mile journey through some of England's finest countryside on the National Trail known as The Cotswold Way. It starts at Chipping Campden and finishes in Bath (that's the city not a hot tub!).

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That's it for now - just get your virtual boots ready to join us on another virtual walk. Our boots are real but yours don't need to be!

Catch up with you soon!

Paul Watts and Pam Greenwood