Mon 15th July.
Again was able to get an early start today, almost hijacked by my lovely Irish friend but I managed to wriggle free. Today turned into a rather frustrating walk with poor navigation on my part, blocked paths and not the best of scenery. On a long distance walk there are always one or more days not as good as the rest, they shouldn’t be taken in isolation but rather a part of the whole experience.
Paths through the woods brought me to the hamlet of Whiteleaved Oak and some pleasant properties including Cider Mill Cottage. A reminder of all the apple orchards in the area.
From here a steep!! path led up to Chase End Hill. This was a wonderful vantage point. The Cotswolds were prominent to the east and looking south was a hill even more prominent that I’d seen in the distance for a few days, recognisable from its jockey cap of trees. I could not identify it but had that sneaky feeling that I would end up climbing it, felt drawn towards it.
Wasted time on the way down the hill looking for a quarry with Pegmatite intrusions. Walked around in circles and never did find the place. Then into the Bromsberrow estate and on to the Church and Court. Both equally impressive.
The church porch proved a good shady place for a rest and drink before moving on to rather busy lanes crossing the M50. A boring and hot open section followed through crops of asparagus in acres of poly tunnels.
The workers inside did not seem to respond to my cheery hello.
Maybe a clue here –
Walking on in the heat of the day I missed the odd turn or two in the fields of asparagus. But having put myself right at an identifiable house I immediately had difficulty escaping a motor bike scramble course where all waymarks and paths were obliterated. Eventually cresting a ridge in the right direction I found myself in more dense asparagus, had to almost plough through on a compass bearing! Getting hot and bothered by now and cursing landowners. There was some respite on small farm lanes until I followed a valley up to an impenetrable fence protecting vineyards.
I escaped elsewhere onto a lane which brought me to a batch of small holdings and stables back on route. In the middle of all this rural desert there was obviously more going on than I had imagined. What was I saying about small holdings?
Took to the fields again and had a leisurely few minutes watching a family of Buzzards overhead. There was a lot of loud crying going on – I think they objected to my presence. This was the best I could do against the sun.
Climbing out of the valley I was confronted by a large herd of cattle with an enormous bull in their midst. No matter what they say about bulls with other cattle I always err on the side of caution and did a small detour through someone’s garden to avoid the danger. I’ve had relatives killed by ‘friendly’ bulls, I wonder about the wisdom of any bull in a field with a public footpath in this day and age.
I’d had enough of the field paths around here so followed quiet country lanes for some distance before meeting up with an old disused canal. This was once part of the Hereford to Gloucester system. The canal towpath is still walkable and a lock and aqueduct are having some restoration work done – will need an awful lot!
Glad to arrive in Newent. First stop the convenience store for cartons of fruit juice. My hotel for the night is very central, the room is OK and the food good. But had an awful night’s sleep because of the early morning noise from the road – the PO sorting office was next door!
Next to the PO is a gold painted postbox celebrating a gold medal won in the 2012 London Olympics by local Charlotte Dujardin in the individual Equestrian Dressage. I’ve not come across one of these gold boxes before.