The Cotswold Way
110 Miles from Chipping Campden to Bath:
Day 2 Stanton to Cleeve Hill (15 miles)
After eating the cereal and yogurts left for us in our darling kitchen, we set out early.
We walked out of adorable Stanton and into even more adorable Church Stanway.
After passing several cottages covered in wisteria, we walked by an old Jacobean manor complete with beautiful grounds, a gatehouse with scallop shell trimmings, a 12th century church and a tithe barn.
We wandered all around the church trying to go inside but it was locked.
So instead we peeked over the walls for a glimpse at the manor.
You can see the scallop shells on the top of the gatehouse in the photo below. (Scallop shells always remind me of the Camino.)
Blue skies above and green grass below, we continued down the country lane past an old mill (13th century), a blacksmith’s cottage and a small river.
We were walking through what used to be the heart of this tiny village, a hearkening back to a time when folks were born, lived, worked and died on the same square mile.
I actually just finished reading Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee’s memoir about growing up in a Cotswold village. He was born in 1914, so in his lifetime, he saw the final chapter of a way of life that had continued for hundreds and hundreds of years.
When you walk through these preserved villages, you get a little glimpse of what it must have been like.
After the villages, we walked most of the morning through fields, pausing often to watch baby lambs prancing across the path. We unintentionally scattered them as we walked, disturbing their rest and play.
We also passed Hailes Abbey, the ruins of a former Cistercian Abbey from 1246 where monks lived and worked for three centuries until the abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539, yet another change that happened suddenly to a way of life that had continued for ages. Unfortunately for the monks, the ending of the reign of the Catholic church in England meant that they were either executed or exiled.
Now they abbey ruins are being reclaimed by the earth.
We reached Winchcombe before noon, after covering about eight miles.
We stopped for a pub lunch at The White Hart, a common pub name in England. A “hart” is a male deer.
Kandace had a curry and I had a veggie pie that was topped with roasted beet root, which was “lush,” as they say here.
The vegetarian and vegan offerings at pubs have vastly improved and expanded since I was last walking in England.
Everywhere we stopped seemed to have a decent selection of meatless offerings!
By 12:45pm we were moseying with full bellies out of Winchcombe with seven miles left to go, including a climb to the highest bit of the Cotswold Way.
We passed the entrance to Sudley Castle on our way out of the village. Sudley is a large 15th century estate and garden that was open for touring but would have taken us too long. We both said it would have been lovely to spend the night in Winchcombe and take a day to tour the castle, but for us, it was time to push on and head up, up, up.
We climbed and descended, and then climbed and descended a few times more.
It grew cloudy in the late afternoon, and we reached Cleeve Common – the hills above the village of Cleeve Hill, which was our destination for the day. We stopped at a golf course cafe that was closing up, but the gal sweeping up kindly sold us a cup of tea and an ice cream which we had on the porch of the golf club before making our final descent to the hotel.
Our hotel was a guesthouse with a handful of rooms that overlooked the valley. We were tucked into a sweet twin room on the top floor where we showered and rested before going to the only place in town for dinner, a pub about a half mile down the busy road.
We were both exhausted and considered eating a couple of Rx Bars and going to sleep early.
But after a rest, we rallied and walked down to The Rising Sun for dinner.
I had a chickpea burger and chips and Kandace had lentil cottage pie. (Yes again to more vegetarian options.)
We ended with whisky (me) and gin (Kandace) before dragging ourselves back to the Cleeve Hill Hotel and hobbling up the stairs to bed.
Sounds just lovely!
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