June 7, 2013
After a good night’s sleep we had another good breakfast, then got organized to leave on today’s walk. Getting onto the Cotswold Way via Kings Stanley would have been somewhat of a detour, so instead we headed up the road in the opposite direction. Before long it climbed uphill and there was the Way crossing a slope in front of us.
For the first while we were walking through Stanley Wood, which was lovely. The sun was shining and the wild garlic was scenting the air. And in this particular wood there were little poetic fragments on some of the gates, little couplets which reflected upon the woods they were posted in. After a while we came out onto a grassy area which was the Nympsfield long barrow, a Stone Age site, and then back into the woods for quite a while. This time our path was lined with hart’s-tongue ferns, a species which we had seen before but only identified today based on one of the poems.
Before long we came out to the viewpoint at Coaley Peak, where we had good views, this time of the Severn and its estuary. We also noticed some clouds coming our way. There was more wood-walking until we came to Cam Long Down, a bare grassy ridge overlooking the town of Dursley. Here we caught up to most of the walkers we had been meeting daily for the last few days.
Our lunch stop today was in the market square in Dursley. By now the clouds had caught up to us and the wind was quite cold. Before we left the village we visited the church of St. James the Great, then bought ourselves cinnamon swirls to eat on the way. On the extremely steep hill leading out of town we came across Neil and Christine eating their lunch on a bench. Right next to them was a big tree that had fallen across the trail. That was something we hadn’t seen before in Britain. But we climbed through the branches and continued up to the Dursley Golf Club.
Decision time came when we reached the club house: we could walk around the golf course to get a good view from Stinchcombe Hill, or we could cut off a couple of miles. But by now we had seen a lot of good views, so we opted for the shortcut. Once again we were walking through woods and along tree-lined tracks, and soon we were at North Nibley. We climbed the hill to the Tyndale Monument, which is dedicated to William Tyndale, who was born in North Nibley and who made one of the earliest translations of the Bible into English. It turned out that the tower was closed due to the danger of falling masonry, so even if we had wanted to climb it, we couldn’t.
It was now not very far to Wotton-under-Edge. We descended along paths past fields planted with crops and entered the outskirts of the town. Soon we found the Swan Hotel and checked in. Our bags were waiting for us, so all was well. Or so we thought. About half an hour later a knock came at our door. “Do you have a confirmation for your reservation?” Well, yes, we did. But apparently one of their former employees had sent us the confirmation without putting it into their system. And not only that, he had deleted the e-mails related to the booking. And the hotel was fully booked for tonight, so they actually had no rooms for us.
But they very kindly offered to put us up at another hotel about 15 minutes’ drive away. When Neil and Christine arrived about 40 minutes later, we explained the situation and away we went in the Swan’s van to the other hotel. This turned out to be the Tortworth Court Hotel, which was a very large stately house out in the countryside. Quite an amazing place. Originally built during the reign of Edward I, the place is huge. We drove through a fancy gateway up to the front of the hotel. The building rose up like a castle and looked very expensive to stay in. Luckily the Swan was covering the difference in the room price.
After checking in we went to our room, which turned out to be just like any other chain hotel room. We arranged to have dinner at 7 pm at the hotel restaurant, because we really had no other choice. It was very pricey, as one would expect. And we were still sort of uncomfortable having landed there without any warning. However eventually we managed to relax and enjoy the meal.