Ramble Reports for June 2022

Here Comes The Sun

Rachel and Geoff’s Midweek Ramble 13 June

Well, the sun shone for most of our ramble around Blockley. Despite some very dark clouds and the threatenings of heavy showers.

Blockley is a small village in the Cotswolds, which, until 1931, was an exclave of Worcestershire’. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was a main centre of the silk and wool industries, relying heavily on the brook running through the centre of the village. The TV drama, Father Brown has been filmed in Blockley, where the village was known as Kembleford.

Twelve members met at Blockley Little Village Hall (BLVH), a lovely Grade11 listed property which has, on two occasions, been used as a set for the BBC TV drama Father Brown. Originally a meeting house in the 18th century by Baptist minister Elisha Smith, it was placed in trust on behalf of the people of Blockley by his Great Grandson, who converted it to a Village Hall at his own expense.

We soon began our climb out of the village towards Batsford. Pausing to get our breath, the views over Blockley soon took our breath away again.

The threatened showers caused us to stop and don coats, but within 5 minutes we were removing them as the sun appeared again. Foals with their mothers drew several ‘Oohs’ and ‘Ahhs’ before Batsford House came into view. Batsford Estate is 5,000square acres with a 55 acre arboretum, which has a large collection of Japanese maples, magnolia and pines. It was inherited in 1886 by Algernon Freeman-Mitford. He travelled widely in Asia and developed a garden as a ‘Wild’ landscape, with natural planting inspired by Chinese and Japanese practices. He was succeeded by David Freeman-Mitford, who was the father of the famous Mitford sisters. Nancy Mitford based the early part of her novel ‘Love in a cold climate’ on her time at Batsford. The estate is currently owned by Michael Hamilton-Wills, 3rd Baron Dulverston.

At Batsford, we joined the Monarch Way. This is a 625mile Long Distance Footpath that approximates the route taken by King Charles 2 in 1651. It runs from Worcester to Brighton, via Bristol and Yeovil.

After eating our lunch in the luxury of BLVH, 8 members continued the ramble following The Heart of England Way. This Long Distance Footpath is about 100 miles long and runs from Milford, north of Cannock, to Bourton on the Water. The afternoon terrain was quite different from the morning’s ramble, taking us along wheat fields, rape fields, and shady, muddy areas of Norcombe Wood and The Warren before returning to Blockley.

Entering the village, we passed Rock Cottage, where a plaque on the wall commemorates Joanna Southcott, a Prophetess who fled to the village in 1814 in order to prepare for the birth of the Second Coming.

Again, rain clouds threated but the main storm passed and the ramble finished in glorious sunshine.


4.7miles/7.5 km a.m. 5.3miles/8.5 km p.m.

A sunny day in the Cotswolds

Geoff & Pat’s Short Ramble 15 June

Our ramble started in Moreton-in-Marsh, very handy for the Monarch’s Way, with wide grassy footpaths well maintained on the Batsford Estate. We stopped for a brief “history moment” about the 2nd Baron Redesdale and his famous/infamous daughters the Mitford sisters who lived here during World War 1.

Turning to Bourton-on-the-Hill, Peter noted that there is an old photo’ on the website of the group walking through the village and Peter was still wearing the same hat.

Heading south on the Heart of England Way our next stop was at Sezincote with more interesting facts and a lesson in pronunciation (Seezincote). The house was the whim of Colonel John Cockerell (grandson of the diarist Samuel Pepys) who gained his fortune from The East India Company. He died three years after his return to England and his brother Charles inherited the estate. Another brother, Samuel, an architect, designed and built the house in the Indian Mogul style of Rajasthan. When the Prince Regent visited in 1807 he decided to change his plans for the Royal Pavilion in Brighton to echo the exotic Indian style.

We then turned East passing Upper Rye Farm to re-join the Monarch’s Way back to Moreton-in Marsh and lunch at the Swan Inn.

Geoff & Pat

6.4 miles/10.3 km

Castles and Pints

Andy & Emily’s Evening Ramble 17 June

Braving the heat, 19 of us set off from Upton-upon-Severn for Hanley Castle, and everyone made it back, refreshed mid-way by a stop at a 17th-century inn.

Starting along the now defunct tree-lined Midland Railway branch line, we stopped to see Upton’s 1832 cholera burial pit, and then found our way past the remains of King John’s 13th-century castle/hunting lodge (now just a moat and some mounds tucked away among hazelnut trees).

Despite a small unscheduled detour, we found our way towards Hanley Castle through fields, along hedgerows and into chicken yards, as the sun started to comfortably ease off the warmth.

We took refuge for a brief round (or two, in some cases) of fine ales and other refreshments at the legendary ‘Three Kings’ pub, courtesy of third-generation landlord Sue.

Revived, after admiring the 800-year-old cedar of Lebanon outside the pub, we pressed onward via Hanley’s St Mary’s church down to the Severn along Quay Lane, once the medieval trading route for pottery made in Hanley Castle (some of which has apparently been found on Hadrian’s Wall).

From there it was straight back to Upton along the river and through the town to our starting point, where some of us retired to a local Indian restaurant for a curry as the sun finally set.

Andy & Emily

5 miles

Vistas and Villages

Lesley and Trevor’s Sunday Ramble 26 June

We gathered early on a cool June morning outside St Peters and St Paul’s Church, The Square, Blockley. Before setting off on our 12.5 mile walk, Trevor, our walk leader, gave a brief history of the village, explaining the many uses of mills along the Blockley Brook, notably the silk mills producing silk thread for the production of ribbon in Coventry.

We took the downhill path through the churchyard to the B4479, turned right and crossed to take Pasture Lane uphill passing Pasture Farm, from where we enjoyed fantastic views across the valley.

The path wended its way across newly sown meadows to the Village of Draycott, first noted in 1182 as a farming community, which it remains. Two short road sections took us to the track to Kettles Barn Farm, and we followed field tracks towards Paxford taking us to the GWR Morton – Paddington line where we had a short coffee break and sheltered under the bridge to avoid the rain. However, the rain passed us by and we were able to continue our walk along a field edge until we came to a clearly marked crossing point over a field of wheat, where the skylarks and blackbirds were in good voice. We followed the direction of the Blockley Brook towards Paxford Bridge and could see the imposing chimney of the Northcot Brick Works, about which Trevor provided a potted history from the discovery of suitable clay in the early 1900s, providing 66 million bricks for Battersea Power Station to its current commercial success.

We continued into Paxford Village, once noted for the growing of rhubarb, primarily for making jam. We noted a number of sheds built for the accelerated harvesting of rhubarb to be sent to market early.

From Paxford we took the footpath towards Pudicott Mill, and crossed a farm track into a rather overgrown field edge where butterflies, dragonflies and demoiselle flies were in great abundance. We made our way over Pudicott Lane onto a narrow footpath which passed by a number of ponds and took the field path to May Lane and on to Ebrington and ‘Vegetable Matters’ farm shop. There we met with Bill Etteridge (a prospective New Member) who joined us for the second half of the walk. The café was very quiet so enjoyed an unscheduled coffee break, following which we set off up May Lane to take a stone track on our left which took us out across several fields of crops. In a recently topped hay field we decided to find a comfortable spot to have lunch in the sunshine.

Lunch over, we continued through a squeeze stile and over a bridge taking the field edge to cross the GWR once again. The route took us out to the Chipping Campden Road, where we turned right for 180 metres until we re-joined the footpath at a field entrance. Here we were unable to take the field edge as the farmer was watering his crops with a wind carrying the water far and wide. None of us fancied a drenching so we crossed the field using the tractor tracks. At the far side of the field we walked up hill through woodland having missed our way into Chipping Campden, and joined the Diamond Way into Broad Campden.

Some say Broad Campden was named after ‘Brada’, a Saxon Chief, but a more likely origin is ‘Abroad Campden’ because it covered a wide area. We stopped to view the Norman Chapel (12th Century), renovated in 1905 for the historian Ananda Coomara Swamy. Here the Arts and Crafts “Essex House Press” was installed, previously housed in the church in Paxford.

We then took the Monarch’s Way to Campden Hill Farm, a steady climb with amazing views across the countryside. At the very brow of the hill we joined the Diamond Way which continued along the ridge, crossing the track to the quarry which houses the biodigester on the Northcot Estate.

From here we started our long descent to the upper water of the Blockley Brook where it was time for refreshments before the very steep climb back out of the valley and into Blockley.

Pauline offered the vote of thanks and wished us all well on our travels home.

It was a long but successful day; the weather had been kind in defiance of the forecast and we shared in the beautiful views and wonderful history of the small villages to the south and south east of Chipping Campden.

We returned Bill safely to his car in Ebrington and we look forward to seeing him again very soon.

Lesley and Trevor

12.5 miles or 20.12 kilometres