Viewing galleries from May, 2018
The weather forecast wasn't looking all that good so the walkers decided on a shortish walk, going from Cranham, up through Buckholt and Brockworth Woods to Coopers Hill. It was mostly uphill and dampish but some lovely paths through the beech trees. In Brockworth Woods we found a few edible Roman snails. Introduced by the Roman, they don't thrive particularly well in England and are a protected species. Living for 20 to 30 years, they don't get anywhere very quickly, migration distance around 4 to 6 metres! By the time we got to the top of Coopers Hill the rain was becoming a nuisance so we sheltered whilst watching a Hungarian filming the course of the cheese rolling competition. When the rain eased off we had a look down this incredible hill that no-one in their right mind would want to climb up, let alone chase a cheese down. A man helping to put the side fences in position came for a chat. He was the proud father of a lad who has been competing since 2005 and had won 20 races during that period. He was hoping to become the first person to win 21 races the following day. Click on this link and you'll find the answer Chris Anderson. There is steel fencing at the bottom to stop the cheese killing anyone and a rugby team in front of the fence to stop the competitors, who will be mostly out of control. Injuries are not uncommon. We gingerly made our way down an "easier" path to walk through more woods back to the cars. We chose to eat our packed lunch in the grounds of Prinknash Abbey but were not exactly impressed with the cafe/shop where we went for a coffee. This was our last day at Bourton-on-the-Water and the House arranged a "ghost walk" for guests wishing to have a final wander. Bourton-on-the-Water is a deservedly popular town to see all that is good about the Cotswolds and we were a bit concerned we would be inundated with tourists. However they were mostly around in the daytime when we were elsewhere and disappeared in the late afternoon. Harrington House was a superb HF house. The staff were excellent for the whole week and we all had an enjoyable holiday.
On the bus again but this time to Moreton-in-the-Marsh. From there it is a pleasant walk of 1.3/4 miles to Batsford Arboretum, the largest private collection of trees and shrubs in the country. It was developed in the late 19th century by Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford, grandfather of the Mitford sisters and very friendly with his wife's sister, who became the mother of Churchill's wife, Clementine. The Arboretum was quite splendid although the weather was not at its best. We enjoyed our packed lunches in the Chinese Rest House, admired some magnificent trees and shrubs and did a bit of bird-watching. Mitford also imported several Chinese bronzes that appeared around the Garden. There is a falconry nearby and also a very good garden shop. We then split up with keen walkers going back to Moreton-on-the-Marsh the long way, others the short way and some even getting a lift! Once back in Bourton-on-the-Water the Chinese influence was still around, with tourists being photographed with the prettiest background in town, opposite Harrington House.
We headed for Northleach to have a look at the Mechanical Music Museum which usefully had a bar for our first break of the day. The museum guide who showed us around was very entertaining and we all finished very impressed with the quality of workmanship needed to produce such amazing instruments many centuries ago. Afterwards some of us headed for a circular route of about 4.1/2 miles towards Hampnett and then picking up the Monarch's Way to walk in the presumed path of Charles I on his route away from Stow-on-the-Wold. Hampnett Church was a surprise inside. This 12th century church received some extraordinary decoration courtesy of the vicar, Rev. William Wiggin. Inside the sanctuary, nave and windows there is some very elaborate medieval style stencilling which the parishioners were not at all happy with, but failed to raise sufficient funds to have it all covered up. It is assumed it didn't do much for attendance. However it is very striking and well worth a visit. After dropping down into the village of Northleach we had a look at Northleach church. It is an oustanding example of the power of wool in the 15th century. The Cotswolds produced the finest wool and Northleach was the economic centre of Europe at that time. As one of the merchants had inscribed in his house " I thank God and ever shall, it is the sheepe hath payed for all" They were very generous and paid for vast improvements to the church, paid the ransom for Richard the Lionheart, subsidised the military adventures of Edward I, and paid entirely for the early years of the 100 years war.
Thursday was a day off from walking so we went to the National Trust house at Snowshill. A Manor House purchased by Charles Wade when he inherited a fortune gained from sugar plantations by his parents. He was an extraordinary collector of many things, from Japanese suits of armour to bicycles and most things in between. The Manor House was for his collection whilst he lived in a small adjacent priests house. Once we were back in Bourton-on-the-Water we were all very busy making boats for the weekly Harrington House boat race in the River Windrush. Materials were anything that could be found - one of the quickest boats was simply a triangular sandwich case with a sail on top. Along with Midhurst Footpath Companions entries, there was a good showing from the other guests. After an exciting 5 minutes with the lead changing several times, with great good fortune an MFC entry was the race winner and the best design also went to a MFC entry. Money to sponsor boats went to a footpath charity.
We set out on a circuar walk from the House to go to Clapton-on-the-Hill. Pleasant walk through farmland and we eventually reached our goal, a pretty, small village with a tiny church and an adjacent picnic area, ideal for a coffee stop. Splendid views towards Bourton as we made our way down the Diamond Way towards some fishing lakes. However access was fairly limited so we carried on after a lunch break to Bourton-on-the-Water, passing the splendid Manor House on the way back. Some of us took a diversion to the model village where the model Manor House was being cleaned from years of exposure to the elements - it did in fact look brand new. The man working on it said he was going round all the buildings in turn and hoped to finish them all in 10 to 15 years time!