Statistics: 8.9 miles, ascent 815′, descent 451′.
After bidding farewell to our hosts, their children, dogs, cats, and horses, we left the Mole Hill B&B. Further down the trail, we happened on another group of animals…resembling an Easter scene!
The weather was a little damp, but fine walking weather. We hiked past bean fields and wheat fields on our way to the hamlet of Alderley. Alderley, although small, proved to be interesting. It was mentioned in the Doomsday Book (1086) and in the 16th and 17th centuries was known as a wool town. The town’s St. Kenelm Church tower dates from 1450, and the church itself was rebuilt in 1802. England’s Lord Chief Justice during the reign of Charles II, Matthew Hale, was born in Alderley and is buried in the churchyard.
Adjacent to the church is Alderley House, a 19th-century manor house that was built on the site of Matthew Hale’s Jacobean country house by one of Hale’s descendants.
After a good perusal of the village, we continued on the hike, soon to discover another attractive village nearby, Lower Kilcott. The homes were immaculate and a peaceful scene was presented by an old mill and its millstream running through the tiny hamlet.
The Cotswold Way gradually ascended through woods and fields until we reached Clay Hill, where the Somerset Monument was prominently positioned. This 120 foot tower was built in 1846 to honor the memory of General Lord Somerset who fought with Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo.
When planning this trip months earlier, I had been unable to secure lodging at this point along the Way, but located and reserved space at a B&B in a nearby hamlet, Petty France. So, leaving Clay Hill and the Cotswold Way path, we took a little-used footpath leading toward this hamlet. With the damp weather, the grass was quite wet and soaked our pant legs within minutes.
After traversing several wheat fields, we saw our B&B in Petty France, Bodkin House. Bodkin House had been a posting house during the 17th-century along the road from Bath to Stroud. Small stairways in all directions and uneven floors speak to the hundreds of years of human activity that have occurred in this building. Our rooms were very clean and comfortable, our meals tasty and the staff quite helpful.