Back to Stow on Wold then to Cheltenham
Oct 20, 2015
|All right, yesterday was certainly the low point on our Cotswold hike. It drizzled, it rained, it poured; my shoes were covered in mud; my socks were soaked. Let's face it--I was cold and whiny. Our room for the night (Lansdowne Villa) was adequate, but was at the lowest end of the B and B's we had stayed in. Our upper floor room looked out over a major thoroughfare in Bourton on the Water. With the window open, the street noise provided a symphony of discordant notes. With it closed, we sweltered in the tropical heat generated by our radiator. (I should not complain about this as it was the second time we had a defense against nightly temperature.) My harmony of descent into an unbroken sleep was disrupted by the heavy breathing of a ghost under my bed. I sat up, drenched in sweat, punched G who lay with head on MY pillow snoring into my ear, opened the window and drew back the curtain a tad, turned off the heater, and went back to sleep. Only, of course, you don't sleep--so I read a murder mystery until I told myself “This is silly.” and laid down and went to dreamland.
I woke up tired in the morning but was energized by the sunlight filtering thru the window. After a wonderful breakfast of fresh fruit, toast, and porridge (my favorite!), Greg and I sat down and finalized our plan for the day. Since we had cut short our hike yesterday by wimping out and taking the bus to Bourton on the Water, we decided to take that same mode back to Stow on the Wold and hike the missing miles--4 to be exact. Our makeup day was so much better then hiking in the rain with all the accouterments of rain jacket, hat, rain pants. I am so glad we waited until today! The views were stunning (more quaint towns with tourist grabbing tea shops) plus rivers coursed thru Lower Slaughter and Bourton on the Water. Since we were walking a relatively short distance today, I actually had time to dawdle at Stow on the Wold and on down the trail at Lower Slaughter.
Stow on the Wold (Holy place on the hill) has existed as early as the 12 century. It is at the junction of 6 medieval roads including the Roman road, the Fosse Way. Money in the area was tied to the production and sale of sheep's' wool as well as to guest services, inns and pubs, that catered to the many merchants traveling the roads. When one walks thru the town, it is apparent that the “main” street is long and broad and the alleyways are narrow and often are of smaller width at one end. Both of these features were useful for herding sheep into the marketplace to be sold. St. Edwards' church has existed here since the 11th century and was used as a giant holding cell for over 1000 prisoners when the Royalists were defeated by the Parliamentary troops at the battle of Stow on Wold.
G and I wandered around the cemetery at St. Edward's looking for tombstones with bales of wool on them. He had read that this was a status feature on markers in this area. We found something sort of, kind of, resembling a bale of wool. What do you think?
After this exploration, we set off on our hike of the day--first to Lower Slaughter, then back to Bourton on the Water. We did encounter more muddy fields today but, given yesterday's downpour, it was expected. At our first pasture crossing, we spied two walkers taking a circuitous route around the field when our directions just said “Go diagonally across the field to the FG (field gate)”. We reached the FG at the same time they did. Our new buddies were 80 something year olds from Cincinatti, Ohio. Tramping without a written guide, they were headed to the same small hamlet we were. While we were sent on our way with a “Nice talking to you.”, G and I endeavored to make sure they followed our path. One area was particularly tricky as it involved entering a pasture, wading thru muddy slush, finding a hidden walkway and crossing to the next field. We waited five minutes for them to appear and another 3 for them to negotiate the boggy mess before heading across the next field. At that point it was fairly straight forward--just down the lane to the path to the street and walk by the river-- and there you were in Lower Slaughter.
This small village is believed to existed during Roman times and is at the junction of three medieval roads, one of which is the Fosse Way. It is pristine with its requisite yellow stone cottages and even a manor house.
An old mill is situated on the Slaughter or Ey (Eye) Brook which courses thru the town. The mill has been turned into a shop and deli which also sells homemade ice cream.
Before entering the store, your shoes, if muddy, must be cleaned. This is done by sitting down by the Ey and taking a cleaning brush attached by a chain to one of the buildings and washing the mud off with water from the brook.
G and I enjoyed lunch there and, of course, had ice cream to top it off. As we were finishing, in walked our Cincinnati friends. Since it was a straight shot and a shorter distance from Lower Slaughter to Bourton on the Water, we were confident that they would finish their trek safely. Indeed, we later saw them there waiting for the bus to return them to Stow on the Wold.
Our hike was uneventful except we did pass horses on the trail and in a side pasture. As we waited for the riders to trot down the path, one horse came up and pushed me in the back! I think he was used to receiving treats from walkers.
Bourton on the Water has existed since Roman times, when it was called Salmonsbury Camp. The Windrush River passes thru the town although what is a river and what is a brook is a bit confusing. Both the Ey Brook and Windrush are of comparable width and depth, at least the parts we saw. Anyway, there were shops to explore and a bazaar (outdoor garage sale) benefiting the donkey sanctuary to visit. After that G and I boarded the bus to Cheltanham for our last night on our Cotswold adventure.