September Saunter around Stanton
Geoff & Rachel’s Midweek Ramble 1 September
Our ramble started in Stanton, a picture postcard village steeped in history and lying on the intersection of two leylines. Opposite the car park the impressive Stanton Manor is barely visible behind the high hedge. One of the previous owners, Mr Philip Stott, an architect and engineer, acted as a major benefactor to the village, installing lamps on the main street, powered by a generator in his home of Stanton Court. He also improved the village by building a cricket ground, extending the school and building a swimming pool for local children. Several of the lamps are still to be seen in the village.
After leaving Stanton on the Cotswold Way, we headed towards Stanway. The word ‘stan’ means stone, and the buildings are all built of local Cotswold stone. Arriving at Stanway, we admired a thatched cricket pavilion, standing on staddlestones. This was donated to the village by author J.M. Barrie, who was a frequent visitor. Stanway is dominated by Stanway House, which has a baroque gatehouse, dated 1630 and formal gardens with the highest gravity fed fountain in the world. Unfortunately, it doesn’t run on Wednesdays.
Leaving Stanway House we continued on the Cotswold Way, passing Stanway Mill. This is a working mill, which is open to visitors on certain days. The power comes from a small stream, which is a tributary to the River Isbourne. Soon we were climbing steadily through Lidcombe Wood, listening to the metal clunk of the pump, feeding the fountain at Stanway House. A brief stop at an information hut shed some light on how the fountain works.
After a coffee break we continued along the top edge of Shenberrow Hill, an ancient hill fort and reputed to be the third highest point in Gloucestershire, before picking up the Cotswold Way and descending down to Stanton. At the edge of the village, the Guildhouse was clearly visible. This was where Mary Osborn set up a craft guild, after meeting Mahatma Ghandi during her work in East London. After founding a charitable trust, Mary Osborn set about building the centre with the help of a team of young international volunteers and local people. The building, which was completed in 1973 and listed in 1999, was built out of reclaimed materials from the surrounding area and also includes paving stones from the streets of London and oak from the Blenheim Palace estate. Over the years the centre has enjoyed the support of such well-known people as J B Priestley, John Betjeman, Enid Blyton and Flora Robson – as well as from its inspiration Mahatma Gandhi. He maintained links with Mary Osborn and on his 63rd birthday presented her with a spinning wheel, which still stands in the central room of the house. After Mary Osborn’s death in 1996, the Guildhouse has continued to be a place where people can get the best tuition in traditional craft techniques.
Returning to Stanton, some members visited the local pub while others ate their sandwiches, picnic style. After lunch we welcomed Heidrun, who joined us for the afternoon, and all set off towards Laverton, on the Winchcombe Way. With wonderful views across the Vale, we soon came to Laverton, where we followed a track uphill, rejoining the Cotswold Way at the top. After following this for a short distance we hopped over a stile and went downhill, through a field with belted Galloway cows and calves, Rowan trees heavily laden with berries and wonderful far reaching views across the Vale, to reach Buckland.
Buckland Church was open and several members went in to discover some of the treasures it holds:- painted stone panels and 15th century glass window (thought to have come from Hailes Abbey), shepherds’ pews, 15th century cope, painted nave roof and a rather poignant memorial to 1750 knife victim Thomas Roberts, aged 15.
Following a clear, level path which joins Buckland with Laverton, we skirted the village and crossed a stile into fields which led us back to Stanton. When we arrived at the church some of us had a look around and noted the grooves in the back pews, where the shepherds tied their dogs up during services.
a.m. 5.6 miles p.m. 4.7 miles
Travelling Through Time
Lesley and Trevor’s Short Ramble 8 September
We met in the Adlestrop Village Hall car park on a misty September morning. In a short introductory talk from Trevor about the village of Adlestrop, its famous inhabitants, visitors (Jane Austen to the Vicarage) and long and successful equine connections, he made reference to the poet Edward Thomas (1878 – 1917), who was travelling on a train between Oxford and Moreton-in-Marsh when it made an unscheduled stop at Adlestrop Station. This incident prompted “Adlestrop”.
Yes. I remember Adlestrop
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat, the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
Edward Thomas, 24th June 1914
We turned left out of the car park and then left again following the broad track signposted ‘MacMillan Way, then started to climb Adlestrop Hill passing a pair of magnificent ‘bulging oaks’ and noting the archaeological pattern of ridge and furrow agriculture from the post-Roman period. We continued up through woodland, a most welcome break from what was turning out to be a very warm day, and through an iron gate marking the Chastleton Village and Chastleton House Estate boundary we followed a Lime Tree avenue down to the house.
On reaching Chastleton House and St Mary’s Church we lingered to enjoy the Jacobean facade and hear a potted history of the House and environs. We then headed uphill where we took a short break on benches in the NT car park (latterly a cause celebre for NT Members) looking out over Little Compton and Great Compton.
Refreshed, turning right from the carpark we walked up a short stretch of road to a bridleway diagonally left. This took us across two fields and over a track leading to Chastleton Barrow Farm, through a gate to Chastleton Barrow Fort, now ringed by a large circle of trees. These univallate (single line of earthworks) fort were defensive sites established in the Iron Age, and used as a site for storage, stock enclosures, and places of refuge and settlement. Ancient tracks lead to the Rollright Stones, and finds from archeological digs can be found in the Ashmolean Museum.
We retraced our steps to the track, turning left, crossing the road into a small woodland, and taking the track to the left. Out on the other side we had clear views of Stow-on-the Wold. Continuing on the footpath across open pasture past two barns, we skirted a field and entered a woodland. Exiting into another field we followed its’ left edge to reach a path known locally as ‘Long Drive’, through woodland planted with a mixture of ornamental and native trees as well as laurel and box. The path is straight and in places very wide, which together with the Jane Austen connection, suggests it may have been the inspiration for Mansfield Park. It finally emerges onto a road which we crossed, turning right, running downhill to the outskirts of Adlestrop.
Here we turned left into the village of lovely Cotswold stone buildings and many examples of topiary, noting the giant snail on the right hand bend, very glad that none of that size reside in our garden! Then on down through the village past a tap on the wall outside a house which stated that it supplied the water for the lower end of the village until the 1950’s, prompting some interesting speculation as to what happened in the upper end of the village?
Further down the lane at a T junction, a shelter, bench and station sign saved from the closure of Adlestrop Station in 1966 commemorate Edward Thomas, and offered the perfect opportunity for a group photograph. We crossed the road to the carpark, and bid our fellow ramblers a safe journey, some to Daylesford, others to the church at Lower Oddington to view The Doom, a medieval wall painting, and some to visit Chastleton and the House.
Lesley & Trevor
Locks, Stocks but no Barrels
Mike, Roy & Val’s Sunday Ramble 26 September
Parked up at Napton High Street, with blue skies promised. It was an easy drive from Pershore of 50 minutes. Mike had time to talk to us about interesting points on the walk and Val gave out information sheets. Mike also invited new members to introduce themselves.
At 10am we began the uphill walk through the village lanes with their cute cottages, to arrive at St Lawrence’s Church (Grade II) on the hill with views. Time to visit the church and take in its 12th century history, its reformation times and note items like the 16th century porch – its seats at different levels for adults and children. Slits worn in porch columns made by arrow heads being sharpened (butt practise) – hence Butt Hill. Church folk were holding a 4pm Harvest Festival today.
We admired the windmill house, standing 152m OD (original was built in 1543), and walked by Napton Doggers (two huge rocks used during 2020 for rock climbers practicing “bouldering” technique). On to a short stretch of road where some took advantage of free Conference Pears.
On to the Canal which was busy with narrowboats up and down. Care was taken as the towpath is wearing away in certain places. At “Wigrams” Boating we admired from the canal bridge the boaters making tight canal turns and then “Calabash and Bluebell” negotiating the Calcutt lock together. Here Emily and Andy took a planned short route back to their car.
Off the canal and into quiet meadows, some ridge and furrow. Back onto the canal where we had a photo shoot on the Grand Union Canal Bridge (here a tree had fallen across path/canal). Back to meadows and a long track walk to reach another fantastic church, “St John the Baptist” – Lower Shuckburgh with its yew garden and locked-up Stocks.
Crossing the road to start the uphill walk to the Shuckburgh Estate with its Beacon and Coat of Arms. The Estate, owned by Sir James Shuckburgh (14th baronet), has 2,500 acres and is home to wild Fallow Deer, pheasants and other wildlife. Our lunch was taken on the Estate, some in the lean-to barn (permission from Sir James) and some in the much-needed shade of the plethora of trees, cedar and oak. We were joined by Alastair.
We walked through quiet bridleways and several meadows to reach a point with a lovely view of Napton. On the horizon was the Daventry Tower (now DAB radio transmitter). Steadily back down to Napton and our cars where Pauline gave the Vote of Thanks to the leaders. We were in good time to drive steadily to the Two Boats Inn in Long Itchington where the canal was so busy with folk taking in the predicted last day of brilliant sunshine. Meals were served swiftly and enjoyed – ready for an easy drive back home.