A bit of a lazy day today. This morning I drove into Stroud which is only about 4 miles away. It’s a lovely old town, nestled in the heart of 5 beautiful valleys & I suppose because of the abundance of water, has a history of mills that go back to the 11th century, recorded in the Domesday Book.
Some mills were for grain & others for cloth but Stroud thrived during the Industrial Revolution on its woollen mills which made “Stroud Scarlet” cloth for the redcoats’ uniforms. There are still mills which make the red cloth for military uniforms & also billiard table felt & surprisingly, covers for tennis balls. Apparently all the major brands use cloth made in Stroud. I thought it was all synthetic.
I was hoping to see a working mill but they don’t allow visitors & the ones that aren’t still working have been converted into apartments or hotels so there’s nothing to see.
Another interesting aspect of Stroud is the canals. In 1779 a canal was built to connect the town to the Severn River so coal could be brought into Stroud & the cloth shipped out. Then 10 years later the canal was extended to the Thames, linking the 2 great rivers.
It was 36 miles long, had 56 locks & the famous Sapperton tunnel which is over 2 miles long. At the time it was the longest canal tunnel in the country & it still ranks third. The canal was closed in 1933 but they’re currently spending millions to restore it for pleasure boating.
As I was so close to Nailsworth, I came home for lunch then thought I should have a closer look around here. There are also lots of mills in this area & according to the book, Nailsworth has the largest number of working waterwheels in the country. I finally found the Information Centre & he sent me to a hotel just down the road which is a converted mill & has 2 huge waterwheels in the lobby.
He also told me where to find some beautiful old cottages built from the local Cotswold Stone & the old Quaker meeting house which was lovely. The town is renowned for its award-winning restaurants, pubs, cafes & other food outlets including a celebrated local bakery, which I haven’t found yet. Maybe I won’t do much cooking this week.
Later this afternoon, I drove up a very steep road called the W which the US Army built to replace an even steeper road called the Ladder. The road goes up to the Minchinhampton Common. There were lots of people with kids & dogs up there but apparently the cows are still locked up. It was interesting to me because you can see evidence of Iron Age hill forts all around the horizon.
I haven’t had time to read many newspapers but I noticed the headlines this afternoon were “Britain to have a week of snow”. Sounds interesting! It’s been sunny the last couple of days but much colder.