Swinging Ramblers have fun!
Peter and Tony’s Midweek Ramble 14 October
A cold north-easterly was blowing up the Postlip Valley from Winchcombe as we set off punctually on our clockwise route across the Cotswold plateau. At the welcome gathering, Pam Simkin had introduced her friend, John Davies, a new member on his first walk. The first 2 km down to and around the walls of Postlip Hall was a gentle introduction, but the group had been warned that they wouldn’t have their coffee stop until they had scaled Breakheart Plantation, a 300m climb returning us to the top of the Cotswold plateau. Nobody complained; the group kept together and we made excellent time.
We detoured to visit Belas Knap, a beautifully shaped example of an early Stone Age long barrow. Retracing our steps, we passed the remains of the deserted Wontley Farm but pressed on for lunch to the West Down car park with the open fields running to the horizon in every direction. Rachel and Geoff established themselves in a comfy, sheltered ditch to eat their sandwiches, with the rest of us sitting on the grass.
On the afternoon’s walk, Peter stopped the group to tell them that they were crossing the 2° West Meridian; members were suitably unimpressed. Another kilometre further on and we came to the edge of the Cotswold scarp to find the town and racecourse of Cheltenham laid out below us. This was the high point of the walk, in fact at the nearby trig point the highest summit in Gloucestershire.
Cloud obscured the Welsh and Shropshire hills, but on the horizon we were able to identify Hay Bluff, May Hill and the Clees. Skirting below the triple radio masts, we followed the scarp northwards. On the edge of a small beech copse we spied a swing which Maggie, Pat and Geoff were brave enough to try. We crossed the walls of an Iron Age hill fort, half the age of Belas Knap, and checked the identifications of the distant hills using the topograph on Cleeve Cloud. Having managed to avoid being hit by any golf balls, fall into any bunkers or over the cliff, we arrived back at the car park exactly 5 hours since we had left it.
We had caught up with old friends and met some new ones, had some useful exercise, enjoyed spectacular views, kept smiling and chatting throughout and not suffered a drop of rain. What more could you want on an autumn ramble?
How did we do?
I had totally underestimated the speed and stamina of this ERC group. You may remember in October’s navigation section of Chairman’s Corner, I had allowed for a walking time of 6 hours, plus another hour for refreshment stops et cetera, perhaps as much as 7 hours in total. In fact we completed the route in 5 hours, including just over an hour for refreshment stops et cetera! Just under 4 hours had been spent walking at an average walking speed of nearly 4 km an hour, including incline! Given that we had climbed 350m, over a thousand foot in total, we can definitely say that ERC standards have been maintained! So Respect, Kudos and Fitness Points to all involved.
Caped Crusaders on Bredon
Alastair and Peter’s Short Ramble 21 October
After a brief description of the walk we set off from Great Comberton to walk to Nafford House across the fields and then up to Woollas Hall where we stopped briefly for a tea /coffee break. Sadly, the weather was so poor we were denied seeing the stupendous views of the surrounding countryside from Bredon Hill. The walk from Woollas Hall followed the Wychavon Way which eventually ended up from where we started. From a personal point of view, it was so good to see so many ramblers turning out on such a wet day.
“I scream, you scream, – – – – !”
Alan & Pauline’s Sunday Ramble 25 October
Ramblers: Marian Bearcroft, Lesley & Trevor Dingley, Carl Hedderick, Hazel & Paul Jennings, Peter Lee-Smith, Alan & Pauline Saunders, Pam Simkin, Geoff Smith & Pat Whitehurst, Geoff & Rachel Thould, Paul Wood (15)
After a brief talk from Alan on the history of The Fleece and the ghostly connection between Bretforton’s famous Spot Loggins ice cream and an unfortunate 17th century drover, we set off on a bright, sunny morning (a relief after Saturday’s torrential rain), following good field tracks towards Willersey. We stopped for a coffee break on a sheltered bank close to the old GWR railway line before skirting Willersey itself to reach Saintbury Church, a superb vantage point for wonderful views towards Bredon, the Malvern Hills – and beyond. We contoured the side of the Cotswold ridge, passing through the Farncombe Estate before descending into Willersey for our lunchtime stop. Commandeering all the available benches by the duck pond and on the village green, together with the seating surrounding the Jubilee Tree, we had no problem social distancing!
Black clouds were building in the west as we left Willersey, this time walking along the old railway track which runs into Broadway. Leaving the shelter of the trees along the track, we headed north, following a stream that marks the boundary between Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, stopping briefly for several members to gather field mushrooms that were growing in abundance by the path. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of four or five deer crossing our track not more than 30 yards away and shortly after, our route took us past a majestic oak tree, resplendent in its autumn colours.
With spots of rain beginning to fall, we arrived by Allen’s Barn where Alan told the tale of a Bretforton murder in 1707 and how the barn came to be named. Following the hanging in Worcester of John Allen, one of the perpetrators of the murder, his body was chained to the gibbet that stood by the barn and left as a warning to other Bretforton inhabitants. After this gruesome interlude, we headed back to the village in good time for Lesley and Trevor to make purchases at the little bric-a brac shop on The Cross, but too late, alas, for Pauline to catch the Community Shop open to buy some Spot Loggins ice cream. (10.25 miles)
(A note from Pauline: Alan and Glyn couldn’t fathom my choice of report title. Was it a reference to the ghost and murder tales? There is that element to it, but I assumed everyone would know “I scream, you scream, we all – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – !” Perhaps it’s just me!)