Walking Home


Creative Commons License

Walking Home, and all the linked pictures
, by Andy Pepperdine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

On Monday 13th June 2011, a friend gave me a lift in his car to Chipping Campden, where I repaid him by buying him lunch. Then he drove away, leaving me to walk home alone. It was only 102 miles (~164 km), which I hoped to do in 8 days.

Chipping Campden is a quiet village in the heart of rural England. It contains an old market hall with open sides, which the National Trust now looks after. It is also the birth place of the botanist Ernest "Chinese" Wilson, who is commemorated in a small garden.

The following morning I set out from the Volunteer Inn with a rucksack up onto the low hills to the first views to the north from Dover's Hill. Afterwards, it was a long slow rise to Broadway Tower from where one can see more than 60 miles (~ 95 km). From the tower, the path drops 215 metres (~ 705 ft) over 1ΒΌ miles (~ 2 km) into the village of Broadway, where one can find the museum of the famous furniture designer Gordon Russell in a new building shared with the Tourist Information Office. Good designs still look good.

Wednesday provided another beautiful morning, but the forecast was for clouds and rain. The clouds soon appeared, but not the rain. There were fewer people on the path now, and I found a seat with an excellent view. while I sat and ate some sandwiches at about one o'clock, I watched the rain approach along the valley. Thank you Pinky Dickins. Curiously, the rain, when it did arrive, lasted only ten minutes; and it got warmer.

The next pause was at  Hailes Abbey, a name I had not heard before.

As soon as I came into Winchcombe, I stepped into a tea shop for a drink. While I was there, the clouds opened and released a large quantity of raindrops over a period of 30  minutes. I was lucky that day. Until the evening. At the end of a good dinner I felt a tooth crown come loose; but I did not lose it.

Winchcombe is a small place. However it has two dental practices. In the  morning the first one I tried had a free space for me, so the crwon was re-united with its tooth, although I was late leaving for Charlton Kings, a suburb of Cheltenham. On the way, I crossed the first of several golf courses.

The first notable thing was an old barrow called Belas Knap. But I hastened along the way to regain some of the time lost at the dentist. In the evening, the host of the B&B recommended a very good pub where I ate well and hungily.

Another day, another climb, this time through woods to the Devil's Chimney. In fact it is a stack of flat stones, which the quarrymen built from what they considered to be poor quality.

All along the path are wooden sentinels showing the way forward. Getting lost is not an option.

That day I saw a fox on the track about ten minutes before I left the path for the night. After a long day I went down into Little Witcombe a suburb of Gloucester at about four in the afternoon.

On Saturday, I rejoined the path at the point where I left it the previous evening, near a Roman villa (more information). During the day it rained sporadically, but not seriously. The path leads through Painswick where there is an attractive clock on the church tower. It was the longest day up to then, ending in King Stanley.

The following day delivered good views from Coaley Peak, where there is another barrow, but somewhat more ruined. On the waymarkers were a very few poetic notices. Further on there is a monument in memory of William Tyndale, who may have been born nearby. In the evening I took a welcome pause at Wotton-under-Edge.

It was Monday again. I noted how as I travelled south the landscape changed subtly and I met fewer people, but then a man passed me walking from John O'Groats to Land's End and this was his 48th day on the road. He walked faster than I did and soon disappeared over the hill. Near the end of the day, I found a sort of aviary for wild owls and swallows, which I think is a strange combination. The overnight stay was at Tormarton not far from the M4 motorway.

At last, the final day arrived. I followed the Cotswold Way down to Bath. If I had not done so, I would have missed the oddity at Hanging Hill. Despite the cloud cover, one could see far, and from Prospect Stile one could find King Alfred's Tower with the naked eye.

And so home.

Andy Pepperdine

2011-11-26
Creative Commons License

Walking Home, and all the linked pictures
, by Andy Pepperdine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.