June 4, 2013
Breakfast this morning was a bit different, because we were staying in a hotel with 14 rooms. We were sitting in a lovely conservatory room with a linen tablecloth and napkins. Still, the food was the same as in other B&B’s. Almost all of the guests were walkers, except for one man in a suit and tie along with his wife.
Our route today had us heading out the back garden and up onto Cleeve Hill. Christine had started a bit earlier than us, hoping her feet would survive the day, and Neil came with us as we made our way through the golf course and up to the trig point. The day was very beautiful with sunshine and blue skies, so the views were very good. Below was the city of Cheltenham, with the racecourse which was featured in so many of the Dick Francis novels which Rosemary had read. The racecourse looked so large that you could mistake it for a small airport.
We continued on to a nature reserve which was dedicated to butterfly diversity. And sure enough we did see several of the 30 species that are said to live there, and even managed to photograph some of them. For most of the morning we circled around Cheltenham, so we saw the racecourse from several angles, and closer to lunchtime we were walking through Dowdeswell Wood, which was carpeted with wild garlic. This led us downhill towards the reservoir. We didn’t go to the reservoir but instead stopped at Langett Walkers’ Oasis, where we had lemonade (a.k.a. 7-Up) and Neil and Christine had tea. The owners had previously run a B&B but now only did teas.
It was very pleasant sitting on the grass for our lunch, but we still had a long way to go, so off we went up the hill through Lineover Wood. This was hot work on this sunny day. We saw a deer in the wood, which bounded away quickly. We made a short detour to see the 400-year-old beech tree which is believed to be the largest in Britain, but generally we just carried on. Christine’s feet were still bothering her, so the two of us went on ahead along the escarpment, then down into some farms, then back up to Charlton King Common on the escarpment.
After checking the maps we were a little surprised to realize that our B&B was not near the Cotswold Way, but instead it was down at the bottom of Leckhampton Hill. And as we walked along Leckhampton Hill, we realized that we didn’t have a clear idea of how to get down into Leckhampton or how to find the B&B once we were there. We found some tracks going down, but they soon turned into informal goat tracks. Eventually we got all the way around to the Devil’s Chimney, which had a steep and official path down to the car park. From there we followed the road down into the town, and after a circuitous walk around the streets we finally arrived at the B&B at about 5:30 pm.
Our hosts Chris and Shelagh invited us in and offered us tea and scones, which we gratefully accepted. They were bird-watchers too and started telling us about their recent trip to the Danube Delta. Since we had been planning the same trip for next May, we were interested to hear about that.
Neil and Christine arrived at about 7 pm, but on foot, so her blisters must not have been too bad. Like us, they had had a difficult time navigating down from the escarpment. We had to get over to the pub before they stopped serving food, so we headed over there pretty quickly. They didn’t have much of a selection, and Rosemary got stuck with something very cheesy when she ordered the “pie of the day”.