June 6, 2013
Today was going to be a fairly short day of walking, so after we had a leisurely breakfast we packed our bags and set off. After looking around the town a bit we were just about to set off when we realized we had left our walking poles at the B&B. Fortunately the door was unlocked so we could retrieve them. Setting off again, we met Neil and Christine as they were coming out of the church grounds. It wasn’t long before we left the village and were tramping through pastures and woods. Soon we came to an old sign which indicated that Bath was 55 miles away and Chipping Campden 47 miles, so we were almost halfway through the walk.
As we climbed the hill we gradually left Neil and Christine behind. Apparently she still hadn’t recovered completely from the broken toe. But there were two choices of route today. We were planning to walk the longer route, and they would likely walk the shorter route, so we carried on. Soon we reached Haresfield Beacon, where we had fairly good views, but they would have been much better if the clouds had gone away. We carried on to the next promontory, which wasn’t very far, and the sun finally broke through so we had lunch on a grassy slope here. The view looked down over the Severn River estuary in the distance.
After lunch we walked slightly uphill towards the car park for Standish Wood, which was the next wood that we would be walking through. Just setting up his stand was an ice cream vendor. We waited while he finished setting up then treated ourselves to a small cone each—toffee chunk for Rosemary and chocolate for Paul. It was lovely walking through Standish Wood while eating our ice creams. And we enjoyed the early purple orchids that we found.
Before long we were heading down through farmland through Ebley. Near the town we passed a field full of plastic pipes with small plants growing in them. One had a little blue label: “Chardonnay”, it said. So they were starting a vineyard. Then in Ebley we had a choice to make. There was a shorter route direct to Kings Stanley, or a longer route along the canal and over one more hill. The afternoon was still quite young so we opted for the scenic canal version. Now we had another choice to make: one of our guidebooks had us walking along the cycle path next to the A419 and the other had us walking beside the canal. It didn’t make much sense to walk beside the main road, so we walked beside the canal.
There weren’t any waymarks on the canal towpath, but it was a very nice walk, with ducks and coots and moorhens and swans, all with their babies. It certainly was a lovely way to spend an hour walking. But finally we ended up outside Ebley Mill, which has been redeveloped into government offices. We were standing in the car park trying to decide which way to go when a man helped us out by pointing out where we could join the cycle path. This worked out perfectly, joining the waymarked version of the Cotswold Way. This led us quite steeply up into Selsley and then up steeply again to Selsley Common. It was on the way up that we saw an orchid we hadn’t seen before, the green-winged orchid. It was actually quite numerous, a treat to see. One of our guidebooks also mentioned that Skylarks were abundant, and so they were. Many of them were singing high in the sky, and others were hiding in the tall grass by the path, where we would flush them out as we walked by.
From the top we had good view down towards the “Stanleys”, the villages of Leonard Stanley and Kings Stanley. We headed down through the wood and then figured out from our map a shortcut which used a couple of public footpaths which took us much more directly to our B&B than the Way would have. It wasn’t long before we reached Orchardene B&B. Neil and Christine had arrived about half an hour before us, having taken the shorter route. They were sitting outside in the lovely back garden enjoying tea and cake. We were shown our room and then went downstairs to join them. It was lovely and warm sitting outside, a great way to end our day.
Our hosts didn’t recommend the food at the local pub, having had bad reports from other guests. So Neil and Paul went over to the local takeaway and bought Chinese food instead. We sat outside at the picnic table to eat it. There was a lot of food, so we had enough leftovers to use for our sandwiches tomorrow.