Today was another tough day of walking. We started from Seven Springs, a lift provided back to where we had finished yesterday by our host. We spent last night at the beautiful Detmore House, a wonderful place to stay.
Our day’s walking started with two hills, Hartley Hill followed by Leckhampton Hill. It was easy gentle walking once we had reached the escarpment, with far reaching views, butterflies and flowers on the beautiful grasslands. The bright blue sky, sandy soil underfoot and pine tees made it feel distinctly Mediterranean although the landscape we were looking out over was stereotypically English.
Somewhere around the top of Leckhampton Hill we should have come across the Devil’s Chimney, but chatting away we somehow missed it, perhaps the devil was playing with us and had hidden it from sight! Dropping down from the heights through fields we had a section of road walking before breaking back into woods.
A walk through the woods took us up onto Crickley Hill, where we found belted Galloway cattle relaxing in the cool of the trees. Walking through the grassland, we soon reached the visitor centre, where we were glad to enjoy cake and a cool drink.
Refreshed, we enjoyed the views before the route of the Cotswold Way took us around the top of Crickley Hill, a hill fort daring from as far back as 4000BC with evidence of the fort being destroyed by a fierce battle fought around 3450BC, with Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman and Dark Ages occupation on the site before being used for grazing and quarrying in more recent times. Today it was bright and sunny with numerous butterflies enjoying the long flower rich grass across much of the site.
We left the quiet and peaceful place to somewhere much busier- the roundabout at the bottom of Birdlip Hill, busy with traffic, lorries and cars queuing in all directions. We walked up the hill alongside the traffic and were glad to soon take a path off and along the edge of the escarpment, although it was a rolling path, up one moment, back down the next, snaking our way through the grassland.
Leaving the grassland and the views behind we headed into the woods, wonderful cool beech woods, dappled shade, very quiet with little birdsong now the birds have all but finished nesting. The path continued through the woods for miles, long past the point that we had begun to believe that they may never end. We amused ourselves with plans for dog sledding, zip wires, escalators through the trees. Under our feet there was occasional exposed rock and in this, to our delight, fossils could be seen, amazingly this hill top wood was once a sea bed!
Eventually we popped out of the woods and through the tiny hamlet of Cooper’s Hill, before finding ourselves at the base of the hill itself, where in May each year people throw themselves down the steep slope chasing a wheel of cheese. From the base of the slope this looks like quite a feat, from the top it looks like sheer insanity, the slope dropping down so steeply as to be almost vertical. There’s not a lot I won’t do for cheese, but chasing it down this slope is definitely not for me! (It didn’t stop us pretending though!)
We walked on through the woods, wild raspberries growing beside the path. The path wound it’s way up and down hill and at some point on my knee something started to pull, ache and really bloody hurt. Not long to go now I told myself, you can do this, but the path just seemed to keep going on! A tree that was so surely an Ent caught our eye, making us smile!
Eventually we reached the golf course in Painswick, on and on through the golf greens, each step my knee painfully throbbing, tears coming to my eyes. We stopped for a drink of water and pushed on, passed a quarry and on down the hill into the town, arriving footsore and weary at the delightfully quirky St Anne’s bed and breakfast, our home for the night. Glad to relax, after a rest we went out in search of food, enjoying a pint and a burger before collapsing gratefully into bed.