Sad but true. Today was my last walkabout with my dad.
We have once again lucked out with another gorgeous sunny day. Apparently the weather forecast turns for the worse the day I fly home. I didn’t experience the English rain. I didn’t get to use my new rain jacket. And that’s just fine by me.
We walked a total of 14 kms and over 22,000 steps today. We parked by the Community Hall in the beautiful village of Adlestrop. Our first gate led us to a grassy field where horses were grazing. They must be used to hikers walking through because they were not at all bothered by the interruption. My dad pointed out a series of raised parallel lines in the field know as ‘strip lynchets’. History Lesson: Lynchets are a feature of ancient field systems of the British Isles. They are commonly found in vertical rows. Lynchets appear predominantly in Southern Britain and many are in areas close to Iron Age forts and other earthworks, including later Roman earthworks and earlier barrows from the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. The size, location, spacing and number of rows of many strip lynchets indicates that many were man-made. It is most likely that lynchets were dug to maximise the use of land for agriculture, although they may have had other, ceremonial uses. (Thanks Wikipedia!)
There’s no end to the history lessons while walking here. Soon we were standing in the middle of large circular, tree-lined field. This is Chastleton Barrow, a hill fort dating back to the Late Bronze Age! Currently it is used to contain grazing horses!
A short walk through a shaded forest, and we were upon an enormous field of barley. The farmer had cut a narrow path through the middle and I’m not exactly sure why, but these kind of traverses through farm crops are my favourite. It feels like we are trespassing! Here in England, it’s a kind of legal trespassing I suppose. Walking trails give me a sense of freedom to explore that I miss at home. At home, you are restricted to hike on public trails. Here, trails go zig zagging all over including private land. Yesterday we walked right through the property of Lord and Lady Bramford. I said to my dad, “wow, what a beautiful and big house!” He informed me that was only the stables!! There is a lot of money here in the Cotswolds and some of the properties and homes are absolutely jaw dropping gorgeous.
While walking the long road down into Cornwell, I thought perhaps that this was the prettiest view in my entire time here in the Cotswolds. My dad says he’s stopped in the exact spot years ago where I did today and he took pictures too. When we reached the village my dad took a small detour to show me the village church. Built in 1236, I think. We’ve seen many, but this one he particularly likes. I understand why. It’s very peaceful. We looked in the guest book for his name that he wrote in a few years back. Sadly there is a new guest book. I signed the book for the both of us. Maybe one day we will be back to look up today’s signature. (In Nempnett Trubwell, in Somerset, my dad found his signature in that church’s guest book!).
In the next town we decided to go for a cool drink at the pub ‘The Fox at Oddington’. We were 3/4 the way through our walk and needed a pick-me-up. My dad had a lemonade and I had a beer. I’ve been doing my best to sample as many local beers as possible. Drink local, I say! (My favourite beer so far is from the Butcombe Brewery- made from the spring water from the Mendips in Somerset- where my peeps are from!)
As we were walking our last few kilometres we came upon another field of grazing sheep. There have been many! But this one was very different. Behind the sheep was a sports field where there was an active game of Cricket happening! Fascinating! I’ve never seen the game played and it was just so quintessential English. My dad says that at some point in the game, they stop for tea!
The walk wrapped up with walking by a gorgeous church. Each church here usually has a very large home adjacent to it. This would have been where the vicar/rector of the church would have lived. The size of the homes suggests to me how important these men were in the community! In Adlestrop the one of the church’s rector was Jane Austen’s uncle. Apparently Jane Austen spent a lot of time here.
Throughout all our walks my dad has given me just enough tidbits of history to make everything I’ve seen so very meaningful. It’s been a trip of a lifetime. It’s been a long overdue break from the busyness of my life as a mother, but it has been much more than that. I think on the plane home I will write one more blog post where I can reflect on it all. At this very moment, the St. Edwards church of Stow-on-the-Wold, which is just outside my window, just chimed it’s 9 am bells. I will miss this sound along with the cooing pigeons. My dad is packing up the car at this very moment! So I’m signing off for now! (I will post this blog without much of an edit).