The Call Of The Wild
One of our walking routes, 'The Cotswold Grand Tour – an alternative to the Cotswold Way', takes you into parts of the region that other routes cannot reach. The Cotswolds are not wild hills – this is farming country. But there are still remoter stretches which are really only accessible on foot, and that is their glory. Nonetheless, it came as a bit of a surprise to discover, when I was checking out part of the route the other day, that I would necessarily have to walk some of it in reverse, simply because I would not be able to get near enough by car. For my purposes, since I wanted to do as much of the route as possible in the time available, this was a bit irritating. In the end, though, I was delighted to rediscover how wonderfully easy it is to find oneself in stretches of countryside where the only noises are those provided by nature. In fact, the leg in question links Cirencester with Painswick. It is a day of contrasts and I think, with the possible exception of the route between Winchcombe and Broadway, is the most fascinating walk of all. For the first hour you walk through the enormous formal garden that is Cirencester Park, the main avenue of which is perfectly aligned with with the tower of the parish church, which you watch as it recedes bit by bit into the distance behind you. Then you come to the villages of Sapperton and Daneway, with their strong Arts & Crafts connections, followed by a walk along the abandoned Thames & Severn Canal, that ambitious but flawed 18th century enterprise, before strolling through a string of still and tranquil hamlets. Finally the remoter country of ancient woodland and isolated farmhouses, before arriving at Painswick itself, strung along a low ridge overlooking the valleys made famous by Laurie Lee.
The walk show the region in all its wonderful variety – formal park design, agricultural landscape, industrial revolution, nature in the raw and village charm. In fact the whole of our grand tour is a study in contrasts. It is a way of seeing that there is so much more to the Cotswolds than pretty villages, demonstrating that, thankfully, some of its most fascinating aspects are discoverable without the help of a car.