The day’s statistics: 10.2 miles, ascent 916′, descent 1073′.
John Fogerty, Claire’s husband and also our host from New Forge House B&B, returned us to Stanton to begin our day’s adventure. The weather was still a bit drizzly, but not unpleasant. Upon leaving town we entered a lovely park-like terrain, walking through fields dotted with huge oaks and chestnut trees.
Shortly, we arrived at Stanway, a very tiny community consisting of the Church of St. Peter and a few delightful homes including Stanway House, and its outbuildings. Stanway House had at one time been a grand Jacobean manor and has been owned by the same family for the past 500 years. They have been slowly restoring it.
The 12th-century Church of St. Peter, adjacent to the manor, has a curious decoration in the wall surrounding the church. After Cromwell’s troops destroyed nearby Hailes Abbey in the 16th century, the locals retrieved many bits and pieces from the abbey and placed them in a commemorative wall.
Beyond Stanway we noticed long furrows in the countryside. We stopped to ask a local, who turned out to be a town historian, about the furrows. He told us that they were made by medieval farmers who were given strips of land to live on and farm. Later the landowners replaced the farmers with a more lucrative business, sheep. The farmers were gone, but evidence of their toil remains. These
Our one big climb of the day then began and soon we were on the escarpment of Stumps Cross. Again, we were walking through fields, but now we had a possible obstacle to wary of, a bull in the field!
Having made it through that field with no bull in sight, we saw a much more friendly grouping – sheep.
The Cotswold Way is riddled with Iron Age hill forts. The first that we encountered on this trek was Beckbury Camp hill fort. Being located up on the escarpment, this area would have provided a good view of possible intruders. The fort is surrounded by a high, man-made berm.
Continuing, our history lesson jumped back to Oliver Cromwell. We reached the spot known as Cromwell’s Seat where it is said that he watched the destruction of Hailes Abbey.
The earlier rain left the trail a muddy mess as we descended towards Hailes Abbey‘s ruins. Along the way, we were delighted to come upon a tea shop, Hayles Fruit Farm, where they kindly welcomed us, mud and all. We quickly downed a pot of tea and a delicious cake before resuming our walk.
Just down the road from the tea
Across the lane from the abbey was another 12th-century church, Church of St. Nicholas. It was musty and was showing its age, but frescos that had been covered over during the Reformation have been discovered and were amazing.
All day we had noticed a whistle that we had not been able to identify until we noticed the plumes of steam in the valley below us as we neared Winchcombe. It was the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Train on one of its many daily runs.
Upon seeing Winchcombe across the way on the nearby hillside, we knew our second day on the Cotswold Way was about finished. Medieval Winchcombe is a picturesque town with more of a blue-collar feel to it than our previous villages. Little shops line the streets and rows of restored almshouses are in sharp contrast with beautiful Sudley Castle just up the hill.
We arrived at our B&B, Blair House, where we were warmly greeted by our hosts, Nick and his mother. Our rooms were very comfortable and nicely appointed.
We were even greeted by the four legged host!
A short walk from the