Sunday, 15 January 2012

Hawling to Bourton-on-the-Water (Windrush Way 2)

The Windrush Way

Our next project with Merv and Pud is the Oxfordshire Way. Today was the second stage of the Windrush Way which links the Cotswold Way (last year's project) with Bourton-on-the-Water, where the Oxfordshire Way begins. We picked up the route near Hawling Lodge.

We walked across a field and then along one side of a narrow valley. At the end we turned south to walk through Gazeley Wood and then across fields almost to the A436. Here we turned east once more across the wide open valley in the photo above.

We passed a clay-pigeon shooting centre (must try that some time - not as a substitute for killing animals, of course). Then the valley began to narrow.

Somewhere round here we found ourselves on the Gustav Holst Way which runs the 35 miles from Cranham to Wyck Rissington and apparently connects places where Holst lived and worked. He was born in Cheltenham and the house is now a Museum to him.

Now at last there was enough of the River Windrush for us to be able to walk beside it for a while.

Later, we were forced away from the river again and climbed through woodland to then descend and rejoin it after a mill, and soon thereafter come to the edge of Bourton-on-the-Water. To the right we noticed a couple of solidly constructed railway arches and the route of the railway is very clear on the map: it was the  Banbury and Cheltenham Direct Railway.

The route into the town delightfully follows the right bank of the river and emerges opposite this imposing Georgian house, Harrington House. Pevsner describes it as "by far the most splendid house in the village" and dates it to about 1740. He comments on the "wonderful golden ashlar", which clearly continues to shine.

In the very centre, the river is crossed by three low bridges, with the Green on one side and lovely golden stone houses, mostly 18th century, all around. No wonder it is so popular!

Conditions: cold, sunny - rather wonderful.

Distance: 7.5 miles.

Map: Explorer OL45 (The Cotswolds).

Rating: fours stars. The country part was maybe not as special as the previous leg, but Bourton was a delight.


We were pleased to see these fine Snowdrops. Looking back through this blog, I see that the earliest I have previously commented on Snowdrops was 27 January.

I wish I could master the technique of focusing successfully on white flowers!

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