Tues. 16th July.
My last day. By now, looking at the map and guide book, I realised that the hill on the horizon for days is May Hill. Felt that I should get an early start to get up there before the heat notched up. Didn’t have a good night’s sleep because of street noise outside my room – the PO sorting office was next door!!! You can imagine what time they started work, so I was up early anyhow.
Lanes lead out of Newent into Acorn Woods. The undergrowth was fairly thick here particularly with nettles. As I was in shorts I developed a swashbuckling style, with my poles, to plough through these stinging plants. Very effective.
Out of the woods I came into the scattered community of Clifford’s Mesne. The most notable feature of the hamlet was the bus stop which had been decorated, presumably by the local children. Not up to Banksy’s style, but very diverting nonetheless whilst waiting for the infrequent bus.
There was a phone box nearby, how often do you use one in this mobile phone era?
Up out of the houses past the ‘gastro-pub’ the Yew Tree, of course it wouldn’t be open for anything simple like a drink. A steady rise on good paths lead up to the tree clad summit of May Hill, managed by the NT.
I was greeted on arrival by the sound of chain saws cutting down some of those distinctive trees. Red Band Needle Blight has reached the famous clump of trees, which can be seen from all over Gloucestershire. It particularly affects Corsican Pines, most of which were planted to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and also latterly Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.
There are views into Wales and the Black Mountains, north to the Malverns, south down the Severn to Gloucester and round to the Cotswolds. All a bit hazy today. Came down off the hill and into the, again, scattered houses of May Hill Village and Ganders Green where there was a prominent old brick factory chimney.
I then entered the Huntley Quarry Reserve and spent some time looking at sandstone beds. These were deposited when we were in the Sahara 400 million years ago and the climate was hot and arid – a bit like today.
Carried on through the trees to Huntley Church and School – both outstanding examples of Victorian Architecture. The church displays a combination of dominant sandstone and limestone on the exterior, this is reversed in the interior. There are some magnificent old Yew and Cedar trees in the churchyard.
Next door is a garden centre which importantly has a café!
After a rest and brew I was off into the fields again. Navigating was not easy with few waymarks and large fields. Didn’t look as though these paths were walked much even though I was now sharing with The Gloucester Way.
The stiles in the hedges were difficult and frustrating to find.
Now through orchards and onto the banks of the Severn. This is the longest river in Great Britain and has the highest water flow. It is along this stretch one can witness the Severn Bore, but not today.
I was content to walk a couple of miles down the river to Calcott Green and the strange Apple Tree pub, the bus stop was just across the road and I was soon in Gloucester and catching a train home.
I’ve had a great week’s walking, didn’t expect the exceptional heat, which has worn me down a bit. The Geopark Way is full of interest and covers some beautiful areas. More character than many Long-Distance walks I’ve done. Waymarking on the whole is good but sparse in some areas so that you need a good OS map. There are good overnight stops no matter what distance you are planning. The selection of beers and ciders is mind-boggling.
I would recommend this walk – give it a try.