June 3, 2013
When we got up this morning, the sky was blue and cloudless. Apparently the fine weather was supposed to continue for several more days, for which we were thankful. After paying the bill we set off to walk through the lovely small village of Stanton. The route took us along the main street past some beautiful old limestone houses with newly-blooming roses. Some of them had thatched roofs, and often there were thatch animals on the top of the roof. The house next to our B&B had a thatch kangaroo, and another had a thatch duck with ducklings.
After leaving the village we went through a field which had medieval ploughing humps. They had been formed because of the way people ploughed the fields 400 years ago, and now we were going up and down every six feet as we walked across them. Our next village was Stanway, and we idled our way through it too, looking at its lovely church and at the large Jacobean house named Stanway House. The latter has a water fountain which shoots 300 feet in the air, but since it wasn’t a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon, unfortunately we didn’t see it in action.
Christine’s attempts to avoid using the broken toe had resulted in bruised soles, so at this point she headed along the direct route to Hailes while we and Neil toiled up and down the escarpment. At the top of the escarpment we passed by Stump’s Cross, which was a lump of rock which used to be the base of a cross. If you didn’t know that, you would have thought it was just a stray lump of concrete. We passed by a barn which was built on top of staddle stones and continued on to Beckbury Camp, an old Iron Age hill fort. All that remained now was a grassy mound. Finally we passed by a monument which was allegedly built on the spot where Thomas Cromwell is said to have sat and watched the destruction of Hailes Abbey before heading back down from the escarpment.
The descent was steep and rocky in places, but luckily it was quite short. Part of it was through a lovely wood with bluebells just opening. Just before we got to Hailes Abbey we met Christine, who was reading her book and resting her feet. We decided it would be interesting to have a look around the ruined abbey, since our Heritage Canada membership got us in for free. It’s unlikely that we would have paid admission to the ruins, considering we could see them as we walked along the road. The grounds were well maintained, and the gardeners had mowed the long grass into the shape of the original abbey, so with the help of interpretive signs we could imagine what had been there. That took us about half an hour, and then we decided to have lunch there.
After lunch we realized it was nearly 2 pm and we hadn’t even done half the day’s walk yet. So we set out at a fairly quick pace. But as we discovered later, Christine’s foot-sores had developed into blood blisters, so Neil put her into a taxi and sent her on to our destination. Meanwhile we didn’t want to be trailing in there after 6 pm, so we picked up the pace. First we passed through Winchcombe, which was a larger village than the previous ones, and then we started the climb up the hill to Belas Knap. This was an old burial site from about 5,500 years ago, which was even harder to imagine than the Castlerigg stone circle at Keswick. The mound had been excavated, and it was a very interesting site, not only for its history but also for its lovely view. We decided to sit and enjoy the area, so we had more tea and half a Mars bar each.
We carried on back down the escarpment, first steeply down through a wood and then gently down along a wooded trail. After passing Postlip Hall, an imposing manor which was mostly hidden by walls, we climbed up part of Cleeve Hill to the Cleeve Hill Golf Club where we could see both golfers and sheep on the course. Finally we could see the village of Cleeve Hill below us, so we found our way down to it and then made our way to the Cleeve Hill Hotel, which was actually a large B&B with 14 rooms. Our room was located at the top of the building, with a fantastic view over the valley below.
Our hostess had made dinner reservations at the Rising Sun hotel, because it was the only restaurant in the village. Unfortunately there was a busload of Japanese tourists ahead of us and the meal service was painfully slow. It took over an hour for our meal to arrive! The food was mediocre as well, and the portions were not as large as what we had become used to, but then it was very inexpensive. You get what you pay for.
Tomorrow is a much shorter walk, less than 10 miles compared to over 13 today. Hopefully Christine’s bleeding feet can be brought under control.