We have arrived at Stow-in-the-Wold, a picturesque hilltop town in the heart of the Cotswolds! We are staying at the Stow Lodge Hotel which overlooks the historic market square. I got a chance to walk around and poke my head in the shops and buy an Americano. After staying in the rural countryside of Somerset, it is nice to be in a bustling town! The coffee was nice too! There is a beautiful lawn surrounding the hotel and the gardens are full of vibrant colours and again, the bird songs! The St. Edwards church is right outside my window and the church bells chime every half hour. The pigeons cooing outside my window combined with the sound of the church bells, well, it’s a beautiful kind of ambience. There’s a calming and familiar feel to all this, and it’s the kind of thing that will be etched in my memory forever.
Today’s walk was glorious! My dad wanted to take me on his favourite (or one of them) walks in the Cotswolds. It was a 12 km loop through three villages separated by rolling pastures and grazing animals. I felt as though we were walking through a storybook. The scenery was so picturesque. So beautiful. Everywhere I looked there was before me, a perfectly composed photograph just waiting to be taken! The lines in the fields, fences, and horizon combined with the striking colour combinations, makes for a photographer’s dream! The weather was also perfect. The bluest of blue sky with cartoon like white puffy clouds. To top it all off, the bright yellow rapeseed crops are in full bloom and the juxtaposition of this vivid yellow against the blue sky, is stunning.
Twelve kilometres, in the warm sun, combined with the up and down of the hills makes for a tiring walk. I’m also learning that I need to watch my step. The trails and fields here are full of potholes and the loose rocks can make walking a bit treacherous. One must be fully present when walking and this helps to create a being-in-the-moment kind of experience.
I get most excited to cross a field of animals- especially sheep. The cows and especially bulls, must be avoided. I’ve heard many storied in the last eleven days, of people including farmers, being killed by territorial bulls! Towards the end of today’s walk, our last climb up and out of the valley, went straight through a field full of bulls! My dad wasn’t going to risk it, so we took a detour around the field and avoided the bulls. It made for a longer walk, but we didn’t want any drama to ruin what was a perfect day.
Today I really felt like I was getting into the rhythm here. I am really falling in love with the land. The birds. The farm animals. The big sky. The green hills. The patchwork landscape. And so on…. I can see why my father has been coming back for 15 years. While walking, my mind is calm. Before this trip, I thought I’d have all sorts of epiphanies while walking here. I thought the time and space would inspire me to think of new art or writing projects. Truth be told, my mind is very quiet during our walks. I’m lulled by the scenery and the birds. I have three more days. Perhaps the epiphanies are yet to come. Or maybe… this is the magic of walking… it is a break from our busy minds. I’m learning that nothing needs to happen here. Taking in the beauty is my only job here. My gratitude is immense.