Archive for March 2012

Petty France to Toghill (Wick) 14.5mls Ascent 1444ft Miles so far 257.7   4 comments

Petty France - Toghill

Petty France - Toghill

A varied walk today as we went past the 250 mile mark.  A bit cooler than it has been and there were warnings of drizzle but nothing materialized. Started off the morning with the sky full of larks singing their  heads off above us and we soon got to NT’s Horton Court looking very resplendent below us. Soon after this we arrived in Little Sodbury, now I would normally say I’m not an Iron Age Fort man, I tend to look at them and come away thinking ‘somebody’s got a vivid imagination if they think that was a fort‘ however, the one at Little Sodbury is the best I’ve ever come across. It must be at least 100 yds by 80 and all four sides are surrounded by mounds, all still intact. On top of this there is then a moat and then another complete set of mounds as a further defence. I was very impressed and even somebody with my lack of imagination could picture the fort being alive and full of huts and people and horses etc. Surprised it isn’t better publicised or maybe I’ve just never taken any notice 🙂

Stopped for lunch in Tormarton and was glad to see the Cotswold Way had changed route since my OS map and no longer went around the M4 roundabout although it did pass some massive arable fields that took 20 mins to trudge past. We could hear and just about see the odd motocross bike on the other side of this field as they shot over the hills on their route, both wheels off the ground. After this Helen really speeded up as it began to appear that we might have time to call in NT’s Dyrham Park cafe for a piece of Victoria sponge. We arrived in plenty of time, no Vic sponge available but we consoled ourselves with some parsnip, carrot and hazlenut cake for Helen and some lemon drizzle for me (I felt I had to join in so Helen wouldn’t feel so bad).

Almost forgot to mention that we came across hoards of wild garlic today and the smells are just starting to waft up and fill the woods and we also came across a Cotswold Way ‘message’ box and book in Dyrham wood where we added our names and a little bit of info about our walk. If ever you are passing that way in the future look us up. A fairly long walk today but we made it to Toghill House Farm for about 17:45 and then got a taxi back to Petty France to pick up the van and get an early evening meal.

Horton Court

Must be Angora with a coat like that

Specially built for Swallows and Barn Owls


Posted March 31, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Wotton-under-Edge to Petty France 9.4 miles Ascent 1234ft Miles so far 243.2   2 comments

Wotton under Edge - Petty France

Loaded ourselves up with muesli and toast this morning, as the B&B in Wotton doesn’t do cooked breakfasts, and set out into the rather cold Wotton. It only took a couple of minutes before we realised that we were walking back towards Middleyard and had to correct ourselves. We weren’t sorry to leave Wotton as we weren’t really impressed with the B&B or the town itself. I suspect the problem is that we’ve been spoilt recently with the lovely places that we’ve stopped at.

The walking went well today and although we don’t really feel we are getting any fitter we certainly seem to be getting to places quicker. In no time at all we were in Alderley for coffee. I’m not quite sure when coffee time is any more but Helen seems to have this super formulae involving miles walked and ascents etc for working it out. I’m not sure I’ve quite grasped it but I think it’s distance walked in feet multiplied by the diameter of the ascent divided by 4, all over pi times 7.63. And then when this total over C = 0 then it’s time to stop. I may be missing the temperature quotient out of this and thereby making it too simple but that bit confuses me a little.

Heather Stewart - Land End to John O'Groats

Anyway, sat there drinking coffee (and letting my brain cool down) when another walker comes along and starts chatting. We told her where we were going and asked about her walk and it turned out that she was walking from Lands End to John O’Groats !! Lovely lady and she was as enthusiastic about our walk as she was about her own. If anybody wants to have a look at how she is getting on you can follow her blog on It’s very good and a lot more detailed then ours. We wish her the best of luck and hope that her enthusiasm lasts for the whole 874 miles. I’ve a feeling it will.

The weather had brightened up by now and after a quick look inside the church at Alderley we walked down some lovely paths to Hawkesbury where we just happened to notice that the Beaufort Arms was still open. Being as time was going so well and it would have been rude to walk past somehow, we called in for some scrumpy and some sandwiches which went down very nicely in the garden in the sun before walking the final mile and a half to our nights stop at Petty France just in time for a bus back to pick up the van. A good day :-).

Spotted on Wortley Hill

Hawkesbury Upton's "You'll Never Leave" a bit scary

A glass of scrumpy and a sandwich

Posted March 31, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Day out in Cirencester   6 comments

Another day off from walking (I think Helen sneaked some in without me noticing 🙂 ) Certainly nothing to do in Wotton so as a few people had recommended Cirencester we decided to have a drive out to there for the day. Turned out to be a good choice with plenty to see and do and plenty of options to have a slow amble around. As always, the first place we headed for was Costa Coffee where I mistakenly ordered medium sized cappuccino and americano instead of small ones and we ended up with approx a bucket each. Couldn’t help noticing that the ‘large’ ones now come with two handles so that if you make the mistake of ordering one you now at least have half a chance of being able to pick it up. Being able to drink the darned thing is another story of course.

As I say it’s an nice town to walk around with lots of smaller independent shops and an old town which always adds to the interest along with a large cotswold stone church in the centre which is almost cathedral size. There’s also a huge park owned by the Bathurst Estate which has a huge long drive through it, very much like the Duke’s drive in Chester I suppose. Also very much like the Duke of Westminster owns a lot of Chester, the Bathurst Estate owns a lot of Cirencester apparently.

We had lunch sat outside in a nice little courtyard in the sun and then did a short tour of the large church which is actually in the throes of being cleaned up on the outside and coated with some sort of protective coating that makes the cleaned up bits so far stick out like a sore thumb. Not to everyone’s taste according to the nice lady who greeted us when we came in, understandably. Wandered around for the rest of the afternoon, managing to find a replacement camera case for the one that’s dropped to pieces (a present off Helen, could be due to her buying it from the pound shop 🙂 ) before popping into a Caffe Nero’s that we had previously missed and then calling in to a pub in Tetbury on the way back for evening meal. It sounded lovely as an ‘aromatic squash, broad bean and lentil curry’ but, sad to say, I’ve definitely had a tastier curry out of a Tesco tin.

Blackjack Lane

Cirencester college


Posted March 29, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Middleyard to Wotton under Edge 12.4mls Ascent 2320ft Miles so far 233.8   7 comments

Middleyard - Wotton under Edge

Quite a toughie today, especially for Helen but having said that, I’m sure she’s finding it a little easier going now than she did at the beginning (and there’s definitely fewer complaints 🙂 ).

Met up with a couple of other walkers at the B&B during breakfast this morning who are doing 5 days of the Cotswold Way. It’s great because whoever we meet and talk to, so far, aren’t doing as much as we are and they all seem to be very envious. I remember doing the Great Glen Way with Diane last year and it was just the opposite as everyone we spoke to was doing a harder, longer, more strenuous walk than we were at the time.

Lots of deciduous woodlands today which is great because they are nice and cool and because they are deciduous they don’t block out all the views. The wood anemones are starting to look really good as well now. Just before coffee we got to Coaley Peak and the views were just outstanding (disappointingly they didn’t photograph very well due to haze in the distance). Apparently on a good day you can see the Black Mountains 40 miles away. A couple of good hills encountered after that and whilst Helen skirted them I took  the opportunity to have a good leg stretch up and down them. I’m starting to get thighs like Wonderwoman and don’t know whether to be pleased about this or a little worried 🙂

The Way took us right through Dursley where we stopped for a spot of lunch, not much else to keep us there though so we carried on to our place for the night, Wotton under Edge. However, having read about the numerous restaurants and pubs we are feeling a little let down by the town as we can only find one place to eat and that certainly isn’t anything special. Day off here tomorrow, I feel we may have to drive somewhere to have a decent day 🙂

Hazy view from Coaley Peak

Wood Anemones in Westridge wood

Coming down into Wotton

Tortoiseshell 'flutterby' spotted en-route

Posted March 29, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Painswick to Middleyard 10.6mls Ascent 1413ft Miles so far 221.4   5 comments

Painswick - Middleyard

I’m not sure what happened today but we arrived earlier than expected and this was even after a quick look around Painswick before we set off. Maybe we are getting a bit fitter without realising it. Painswick is a lovely little old town with hardly any of the houses breaking away from the lovely Cotswold stone. I’m not quite sure how she got to Painswick but the lady who ran the B&B was Belgian which made the breakfast that little bit different. When we were chatting it came up that the sixties group ‘The Animals’ used to appear in Painswick quite regularly and they always stayed at this lady’s B&B 🙂

The walk, once again, was good today with quite a bit of it being through deciduous forests which were nice and cool with the shade they provided. Absolutely full of squirrels they were, running all over the shop (it’s surprising how fast they can run when you chase them with a big stick). Everytime I tried to take a photo, whoosh, they were 50 ft up a tree.

Can't see the church for the yews in Painswick (all 107 of them)

I’m going to tell tales now and mention that Helen took a bit of a shortcut while I went over Haresfield Hill but her navigation skills are far too good and we met up again at the topograph on Shortwood. Lovely views but there was a fair sized town just below the hill called Stonehouse that didn’t appear on the topograph which is a bit of a mystery unless it was built after the topograph was installed in 1934 ?

We must be coming into summer now as we came across our first ice cream van today. Neither of us could, or indeed wanted to, resist and I’ve got to say it went down far too easily. Hopefully we will come across a few more now it’s dawned on them that the weather is actually rather warm.

Early night tonight as it’s a big walk tomorrow, once again out of Helen’s ‘comfort zone’ and there’s not much in Middleyard to keep us up. Nice B&B though with internal Cotswold stone walls.

Leaving Standish Wood

Looking down over Stroud


Guardian of the veg in Middleyard

Posted March 27, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Over (Gloucester) to Painswick 9.9mls Ascent 1415ft Miles so far 210.8   1 comment

Churcham - Painswick

Stopped at a lovely little CL site in the van the last couple of nights that was actually in a plum orchard. Very basic but a great setting.

Started off with an interesting walk into and through Gloucester, once again on the Wysis Way. It’s surprising how many small green areas and woods and commons there are between the major roads into a city and I suspect many Gloucester people don’t even know they exist.

Once through Gloucester we stopped for a coffee on Robinswood Hill and there was a lovely view back over the city and we could actually look back over the city for about 8 miles of the 9 mile walk, until we went over Painswick Hill. Noticed there are more flowers starting to make an appearance now, all racing to get into this lovely sunshine before summer comes and ruins it all. Seems to be a lot of wild Bugle around and the bluebells are just starting to come into flower in the woods and at the bottom of Painswick Hill there was a mass of Lungwort in full flower.

Met up with the Cotswold Way just after Painswick Hill and said goodbye to the Wysis Way as we follow the CW now for the next 60 odd miles. Another National Trail this one so expecting good signposting and an excellent route. Strangely enough as soon as we hit it we noticed the buildings were now being built in the lovely yellow Cotswold stone. Painswick seems to be a very nice example of an old Cotswold town and there’s a church here in the town with 107 yew trees in the grounds, everyone clipped to perfection.

Looking back at Gloucester from Robinswood Hill

Looking back at Robinswood Hill

Lungwort at the bottom of Painswick Hill

Posted March 26, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Gloucester   3 comments

Really rather impressed with Gloucester although on a quiet Sunday in the sun most places would probably look quite good.

Spent the usual 2 hours or so in a coffee bar (Cafe Nero’s this time) catching up on newspapers and relaxation etc when suddenly the Civil War re-enactment society paraded past, horses and all. We didn’t know what it was all about, left the coffee shop and started wandering around the nice big wide streets when they came past us again and we found out they were on the way to the docks to fire off their muskets and canons to commemorate ‘The siege of Gloucester’ in 1643 (ish). All very impressive and loud but we though it was a bit unfair when the order came to fire at Will. Just as well he wasn’t with us :-).

They seem to have done the docks up really well and they are absolutely huge, it must have been a massive undertaking. Nice to see it wasn’t full of bars but had dozens of coffee shops instead.

Spent the second half of the afternoon in the Cathedral which was doubly interesting because they had an art exhibition on with over 50 exhibits. Once again a huge Cathedral, must be 2 to 3 times the size of Chester’s.

Very interesting all round and if anybody comes down this way I would say Gloucester is well worth a visit.

'Fire at Will'

Gloucester main street

Gloucester Cathedral

Our feet after 200 miles

Posted March 26, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Longhope to Over (by Gloucester)12.3mls Ascent 1021ft, Miles so far 200.9   4 comments

Longhope to Churcham for Gloucester

Helen’s that keen now that we even did an extra couple of miles today to what we had originally planned :-). Set off from the Farmers Boy and almost straight away had to go up May Hill, described somewhat strangely in the Gloucestershire Way book as ‘ At 972 ft this is the highest point reached on the Gloucestershire Way, although the High Wold above Cutsdean is shown by the Ordnance Survey to be 30ft higher‘ Erm, I think that means it’s not the highest point then ?? Anyway, it was lovely on top with a round clump of trees in the centre and 4 benches, one at North, one South, one East and one West. I’m sure the views would have been superb except that it was very hazy in the distance.

The walk went well and as you will all know it was another glorious day (the BBC said Gloucester would be the warmest spot in the UK). Lots of lush, green rolling countryside and still plenty of orchards to amble through. I’ve not mentioned all the mistletoe that grows around here. Lots of it in Hereford and lots over the border here too.

Met up with the River Severn for the last few miles, although what we’ve seen so far is very brown and full of detritus as though there has been flooding or maybe a dam opened up somewhere.

Spending tonight on a CL site in a plum orchard and planning to spend a day having a look around Gloucester tomorrow. We know nothing about Gloucester apart from the fact it has a Cathedral so that should be interesting.

Have a lovely weekend everyone 🙂

We're still going 🙂

Posted March 24, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Ross-on-Wye to Longhope 8.9mls Ascent 1336ft Miles so far 188.6   3 comments

Ross on Wye - Longhope

Woo Hoo ! a couple of things to celebrate today, we’ve reached halfway and Helen has had her first ‘pain free’ day 🙂

A mix of local paths today as we say goodbye to the Wye Valley Walk after 42 miles and make our way across to the Gloucester Way via a very brief visit to the Wysis Way en-route (The Wysis Way is a 55 mile path that links Offa’s Dyke to the Thames Path). Wasn’t really looking forward to utilising the local paths as they are always hard to navigate and if the land owners can possibly hide, cover, plough over the stiles and paths then they seem to take great delight in doing so. Only minor problems encountered though and we got to the Farmers Boy in Longhope spot on 15:00 which was the time we had arranged the taxi back to Ross for. Got to mention this taxi (same one as yesterday) has got 482,718 miles on the clock and he swears it’s the original engine. It says a lot for Peugeot 406’s. Went back to Ross for a look around as we never really got a chance yesterday and it’s certainly a town worth visiting with lots of small shops mostly stuffed to the gills with merchandise along with a lovely riverside. Drove back to The Farmers Boy where we are spending the night and had one of their ‘famous’ pies. Very nice it was too.

Also want to mention that being as we are celebrating the half way stage and it’s March 23rd we drunk a toast to Helen’s sister Vivienne. Without Viviennes influence I would never have done any of these walks including the Himalayas, Kilimanjaro, Mount Toubkal, Pico Annetto and of course this walk now. Loved and missed by us all.

Leaving Ross-on-Wye

Another glorious day

Spotted en route


Posted March 23, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Fownhope to Ross-on-Wye 11.5ml Ascent 1081ft. Miles so far: 179.7   2 comments

Fownhope - Ross on Wye

One thing we didn’t take into account on this walk was the possibility of getting too hot, but today we were certainly verging on it at times. We’ve also noticed that we are both in danger of acquiring a tan !! Who’d have thought we would get a tan in March.

Nothing much in Fownhope apart from a couple of pubs, a butcher and a rather large fitness centre. Interesting walk though. We soon came to Paget’s wood that is a SSI and is believed to be over 400 years old. It’s a lovely wood with the ground between the trees being a carpet of green which is very unusual and the information board told us that ‘wild daffodils’ grew in the woods and I have to admit, in my ignorance, I didn’t know there was such a thing. We are learning a lot on this walk.

After saying the other day that not much of the Wye Valley Walk seemed to go along the river, quite a bit of it did today and we were delighted to see loads of swans on or by the river. Surprised we haven’t seen more cows, (much to Helen’s relief), as I tended to think of Herefordshire as a cattle farming area. We did come across a couple of pigs which we were pleased about because we had read back on Gumma farm that as a nation we consume around 9 million pigs a year. Just another 8999998 to find now.

Coming into Ross-on-Wye was very scenic and it looks like a very nice market town from what we’ve seen so far. Arrived about 16:30 booked into the  B&B and then got a taxi back to Fownhope to pick up the van. Never cease to be surprised how far the journey back in the taxi seems each time. We both think ‘we’ve never walked this far’ (suspect taxi drivers may be taking advantage, I’m sure there was no need for that bit up the M1) 🙂

Paget's Wood

Tomorrows sausages

One step too far, well about 30 actually

Coming into Ross-on-Wye

Posted March 22, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized