Escaped mental patient at Hardknott Pass, Lake District, Cumbria - photo by Tania Payne

Escaped mental patient at Hardknott Pass, Lake District, Cumbria - photo by Tania Payne
Escaped mental patient at Hardknott Pass, Lake District, Cumbria - photo by Tania Payne

Sunday 15 September 2013


To use the northern vernacular of my friend Danny, I had a "lully" walk in the Cotswolds today. It was fairly bleak day, what with autumn coming and the wind blowing and a cloudy sky that held portent but fortunately not as much rain as one might have thought. Sometimes I think the Cotswolds are in themselves bleak and not in a bad sense. There's a lot of space out there - and a lot of history. Not that I know much of it, but you can tell it's definitely there.

Sherborne is just north of the A40 between Burford and Cheltenham. Opposite the brown National Trust sign for Lodge Park is the turn off for Sherborne and just a little way down this road is Ewe Pen Barn, where there is a car park. In the barn are maps of the walks round the Sherborne Estate, you can pick up a leaflet for free and off you trot.

Sherborne itself is a proper Cotswold town. I didn't see one house that wasn't real Cotswold stone. To the east are the Water Meadows and as I returned from my loop through them I met an aged man jogging in that strange, tottering way the very old sometimes do. Hugely impressive, but by no means fluid - or fast. He told me that I was only the fifth person he'd seen there in god knows how many years of running. He proceeded, without any prompting at all, to tell me about the conservation projects under way in the meadows. "They" have improved the banks of the Windrush in order to assist the habitats of water voles. Livestock have been deterred, by displacement of their watering holes, from urinating in the river. Gravel has been added to raise the bed of the river in order to help fish breed (I think!). He also told me how mice produce urine which is luminescent to birds of prey and that the trees at the banks of the river must be left to provide accommodation for insects. He then decided to speak French to me.

Not far from Sherborne is Windrush, another good stone town. A nice part of the world - and Donnington ales territory.

Saturday 2 February 2013

Great Coxwell and Coleshill

Great Coxwell, near Faringdon, is where George Martin lived aparently. One can walk quite pleasantly around Badbury Clump. Just across the road from the car park is a fantastic tithe barn.

5 minutes away by car is the village of Coleshill where there is a large estate. It was around here that Churchill had his secret army hidden.

The Radnor Arms is a fine pub, with its own real ales.


The grounds of Blenheim Palace are nice to walk around, although the parts near the palace itself can get busy, particularly on weekends. As it's been so damn wet this year, I haven't done a proper country walk for ages. Blenheim is fairly hilly and doesn't tend to get too waterlogged. The main path is about 4 miles long, but you can walk off the path. Start at Combe Gate so you don't have to pay to go in. Park up near the Cock Inn in Combe itself and walk through the back of St James' church grounds. Then hang a right and follow the path across the fields until you hit a small road. Head left and at the junction right towards the gate. Here are some pics from one of the only nice days of the year...

 This tree is apparently the "Whomping Willow" in the Harry Potter films. Having a chilled day today, obviously.