Statistics: 7.25 miles, ascent 847′, descent 823′.
The next morning, the staff at Bodkin House sent us off with a flourish of handwaving and good-byes. Having left the Cotswold Way yesterday to get to the B&B in Petty France, we now had to return to our route, tramping through the long, wet grass again. However, this morning the sun was out and the fields were drying quickly. Once we left these fields behind, the trail entered a wood high above the village of Horton and we had a good glimpse of the Horton area as we descended through the trees.
Today was another day of hillfort exploration. The first fort, the Horton Hill Fort, required that we climb steeply up to a plateau sprinkled with wildflowers.
We walked the ramparts of this hillfort before descending on the opposite side through a gate leading to a structure known as a “folly” – a building that appears to be quite old, but, in fact, has been built rather recently (people in the US might use the term “faux”). This folly appeared to be an ancient tower, but was recently built as a nesting spot for barn owls and swallows.
As we approached the village of Horton, we took a quick side trip down a path to the ancient manor house known as Horton Court, one of a string of medieval manors and estates along the Cotswold ridge, often with deer parks and sharing a central economy based on wool. We had hoped to tour this house but, unfortunately, the manor was only occasionally open and not on this day. The oldest part of the central Court building was built in 1140, but the main part of the house was constructed in 1521 for the chief secretary to Henry VIII, William Knight. As an aside, since our walk in the Spring of 2019, Horton Court has been converted to a lovely B&B.
Adjacent to the property is the regal St. James Church (originally built in the 12th century). As we were walking around the church the carillon bells began to peal. The lovely bell chorus rang out for some time and was quite a delight.
We had hoped to stop in Horton for a cup of tea, but the tiny village did not have an eatery so we pressed on to the next hamlet of Little Sodbury. It was here that, from 1521 to 1523, William Tyndale preached in the Parish Church of St. Adeline. The church was later demolished and replaced in 1859 by the current St. Adeline Church, reusing many stones from the original church.
Little Sodbury is also known for its very impressive hill fort, Sodbury Hill Fort. Climbing up to the fort we were stunned at its size!
It takes in 11 acres and has a double ring of ramparts with ditches between them. Not only was it initially used during the Iron Age, but the Romans, the Saxons, and Edward IV took advantage of this site.
Arriving in Old Sodbury, our walk for the day was done. We stayed at another 14th century posting house, the very pleasant Cross Hands Hotel.