Today was the shortest day of our route, a relief after completing the longest day yesterday! We’d had a restful night and enjoyed some time with the friendly dog at our accommodation, who loved having her tummy tickled.
We had a slow start to the morning, taking some time to look around the centre of Painswick and visit the church (and chemist- for a knee support). The town is full of pretty old buildings. The churchyard holds 99 yew trees, all cut into lollipop shapes, marching in avenues around the church. The church is impressive, with towering steeple. Inside is a replica of Francis Drake’s ship, the Bonaventure, at the defeat of the Spanish Armada, a surprise to see this detailed and beautiful replica hanging on the wall.
Leaving the church yard I enjoyed the gatehouse, with words of scripture on two sides, one complete with music to sing the psalm!
Soon we were heading out of the town and across fields, uphill to return to the high ground and sweeping views.
As we climbed we passed a large old house and were surprised to see what had once clearly been a fireplace on an internal wall now facing out from the exterior of the building,
We passed a post showing how far we had to travel to reach Bath, and how far we had come, still further to travel than we had walked so far.
We continued to climb, up Rudge Hill, through Maitland Wood, back our onto open grassland before climbing through Stockend Wood, with ferns growing on the banks alongside the wide, easy to follow track.
Beyond the wood, beside the path leading higher up hill, we came across a small building, which at first we took to be a tiny chapel. Coming round to the other side of the building it became clear that it was in fact a wellhouse, the well now capped but with winding winch still in place and an inscription.
it’s been so interesting to see all these little snippets of history left in the landscape, from Iron Age Hill forts, Neolithic barrows and buildings from through the ages. As we walked we came across a reminder to seize the day on an old stone monument. Then,the creepiest thing we have seen on our walk, a child sized doll staring out from a barn. We could see it from a way off as we came down the path and it was super creepy!
We found ourselves soon back on the high ground of the escarpment on Haresfield Beacon with more spectacular views to be seen. A topograph laid out the landscape in relief, we traced the shape of the hills we could see around us with our hands as we gazed at the views.
From the heights we dropped down into woodland again, chatting and enjoying the easy paths. Mushrooms unexpectedly grew beside the path, and we found a fallen tree studded with money.
We dropped down further, looking down on Stroud as we descended through fields, getting our first glimpse of the Severn estuary beyond.
Cotswold stone walls are a dominant feature of the landscape, dotted with a whole variety of stone stiles, squeeze stones, kissing gates and other contraptions to allow access to the footpaths. My least favourite of these was a metal squeeze gap that you had to stand up into a swing down, not so easy for a clumsy chubby girl like myself! I was worried I would end up flat on my face.
Passing between houses on a steep, narrow footpath I spotted some funky caterpillars feasting on raspberry leaves, one to identify when we are home.
As we got closer to King’s Stanley, the landscape started to change, from the wide upland fields, through a vineyard, across the railway line until eventually we reached the canal.
This was the perfect place to stop for awhile and watch the world go by. Fish darted and jumped, dragonflies zipped by on metallic wings, a far cry from the canal’s industrial heyday, when it would have been a much busier place.
Passing a large woollen mill, we made our way into King’s Stanley, our home for the night a stone cottage.
We met my parents for the evening, coincidentally in the area, helpfully bringing a knee brace (!) for me. We chatted the night away, a really delightful and unexpected surprise to spend the evening with them, and all the meal at The Old Fleece Inn was pretty delicious too!