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.
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