June 8, 2013
Neil had arranged for the people at the Swan Hotel to come and pick us up at 8:30 am, so we had breakfast at 7:30 am and then checked out. Breakfast was very good; it was a buffet with all the normal British breakfast foods but also with things like pain au chocolat. They even had little packets of Marmite to go on the toast. We made sure to take some sausages and pastries along for our lunch. David, the manager of the Swan, arrived promptly at 8:30 am in the van and took us back to Wotton. We left our big bags at the Swan to be sent on to Tormarton and got out to start today’s walk. David also dropped Neil and Christine at the nearby village of Wortley so that they could walk a shorter route.
After following the waymarks through Wotton we headed along a small stream and then steeply up a narrow lane for quite a while, up to the top of Blackquarries Hill. Neil and Christine were wise to avoid this part! Then we turned and followed the road along the ridge, and then a path down a field. At this point the waymarks sent us along an obscure track in long grass. We were dubious about the routing, but there were more waymarks so we carried on. Then we had to do something we hadn’t ever had to do in Britain before: climb over an electrified fence. There was a plastic insulator over part of the wire, so we took turns holding the wire down while the other one stepped over it. Both of us negotiated this successfully so we were on our way again.
Our route now had us alternating between very small villages and open pasture land, usually covered in foot-high buttercups. None of the hills were particularly steep or long so the morning went by very pleasantly. One oddity along the way was a very tall monument in memory of General Lord Robert Somerset. We could see it from some distance away as we stumbled along a newly backhoed and graded track.
Once past the monument the going was very easy, because we followed an old drover’s road. Around lunch-time we passed by Horton Court, an old house dating back to the 12th century, and then climbed up to the local hill fort. The National Trust had kindly put a bench there, so that was our lunch stop. We sat for a while and watched the cows in the field below as they moved about, grazing in different places.
Before long we came to Sodbury Camp, which was yet another hill fort. It was a large one but as with all of the others along the Way, all that remained was the grass-covered outer walls. This was followed by more gentle walking through Old Sodbury and then a climb up through the grassy expanse of Dodington Park. After crossing the A46 we walked the short distance to Tormarton, where we quickly found our B&B, Noades House. Our hostess was out mowing the lawn, but came to greet us when we called.
There were two bags in the hall. One was Rosemary’s and one was somebody else’s. Paul’s bag wasn’t there. But we weren’t worried yet, it couldn’t be far away. And just as our hostess was phoning up the bag carriers, the driver showed up to fix the problem, apologizing for the mix-up. We had tea and a very good piece of lemon pound cake, and after a few minutes Neil and Christine arrived.
For dinner we went over to the Major’s Retreat, the nearby pub. It was quite crowded, with several other walkers who we had seen before. We had beef bourguignon and a Mexican burger, which were both very good and very filling.