I met up with Merv for a walk in the Cotswolds to celebrate his retirement and to inaugurate a new era of mid-week walks. We started on the edge of the village of Hazleton and walked down the hill towards Hazleton's church, hidden behind what looked to be the Manor House.
We then headed north along a field-edge path in the direction of Salperton, turning east to follow the Gloucestershire Way along the edge of Salperton Park.
At Farnhill Farm we came down off the high plateau we had been on, and walked down through rape fields into a new landscape of ridges and dry valleys.
At the other side of the rape we turned right and then left, winding our way up a twisting shallow valley.
This brought us to the edge of Notgrove and we walked round the attractive village to visit the Norman church church of St Bartholomew. An information sheet inside the church, where there are fine Norman columns with scalloped capitals, says that the tower is 700 years old. There is also evidence, confirmed by Pevsner ,of Victorian restoration (i.e. rebuilding). The 17th century Manor House makes and impressive backdrop.
As we headed away from the village, there was a fine line of trees on the ridge opposite.
From here we continued to follow the Gloucestershire Way to Cold Ashton, where we passed the impressive 16th century church without a thought to reach the Plough Inn, where we had an excellent fish and chip lunch.
Thus fortified, we set off again in steady light rain to follow the unsigned Macmillan Way, past the strangely named Bangup Barn down and then up to skirt the village of Turkdean.
The track towards Hazleton went through another beautiful landscape of valleys and spurs, uplifting despite the gloom and drizzle.
We swung round to the left and passed Lower Barn to make one final long climb back up to the start.
Conditions: cloud and rain.
Map: Explorer OL 45 (The Cotswolds).
Distance: 8 miles or perhaps a bit more.
Rating: four stars.