Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Stow, Lower Swell and the Slaughters

The Market Square in Stow-on-the-Wold

Another town-and-country walk with my friend Merv, starting in Stow-on-the-Wold. We parked on the west side of the town and walked along Sheep St, pleasant and quite characterful, and then left to double back towards Stow's centre, the Market Place. The market cross has a medieval base, but the shaft and cross itself are late Victorian.

The most intriguing building is St Edward's House to the right of the Cross in the photo above, and in close up below. It has a lovely facade, but we struggled to guess its date. I learn from Pevsner that it is early 18th century.

Proceeding in an anti-clockwise direction we come to the 15th century stocks in a quiet corner.

In the centre of the large square is the Town Hall, St Edward's Hall which dates from 1878.

We had a brief look at the 13th century St Edward's Church as we ate a couple of delicious cakes from the wonderful Patisserie Anglaise, which would be a reason in itself to visit Stow. But as it was so bakingly hot, we modified our original plan of walking there and drove to nearby Lower Swell (once called Nether Swell) to start the country part of the walk.

It is a pretty, typical Cotswold village, with houses mainly of Cotswold stone. I was delighted to discover from Pevsner that the war memorial was by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

We headed south, walking uphill along the road and forking left onto the Heart of England Way. There was soon a lovely view rolling hills to the left.

As we walked along, a large mansion emerged from the trees on the left.

We reached Hyde Mill and entered an area of flower meadows, inevitably not as rich as recently seen in the Alps, but still lovely and swarming with Meadow Brown butterflies.

After this we were joined by the Monarch's Way and followed this across fields to reach the edge of the wonderful village of Lower Slaughter, where we paused for a cold beer in the village pub. The stone houses along the Slaughter brook are very attractive.

At the 19th century flour mills, with its picturesque water mill we bore right, now aiming for Upper Slaughter.

In the hedgerow behind the mill we were delighted to spot a Garden Tiger Moth. I confess I struggle a bit with moths, they just don't inspire me in the way that butterflies do, but this one is a splendid creature.

We followed the path beside the stream to Upper Slaughter, passing to the Lords of The Manor Hotel (once simply the Manor House, built by the Slaughter family in the sixteenth century).

The village itself contains a jumble of Cotswold stone houses. One of the strengths of the Cotswolds is that it is often hard to tell the age of a building because they are all in a similar style. The low tower of St Peter's church can be seen in the background.

We walked along a lane for a while and turned right into a field to rejoin the path we had come out on and walk back to Lower Swell.

Conditions: very hot.

Distance: about 6 miles.

Map: Explorer OL45 (The Cotswolds).

Rating: four stars.

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