Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Cross-country scramble Sep 9

After a rest day I was up for a big morning's workout, so at 9am, I took Hercules, my faithful rust bucket, across to a long field footpath, which climbs slowly and punishingly upwards. It was a cool, autumnal morning, with the clouds gradually burning off to reveal a clean blue sky. Hercules is an old racer, with two working gears and one brake, and he does not like this kind of rubble filled travelling; that is for mountain bikes, he grumbles, and he was born before they came on the scene.

Nonetheless, we plodded up the track, having to walk most of it, listening to the tiny clockwork tickings of crickets in the long, dry grass. At the top, the footpath turns and we were rewarded with the most spectacular view, looking westwards. The camera cannot do justice to the panoramic vastness of the landscape, stretched out around. The clean wind blew gently through my hair and for once I forgot about work, and even blogs. If one had to leave this Earth, right now, this would be a good way to go.

After this indulgent moment of melancholia, we bumped and bobbled along the stony path, through stubble fields, along the
D'arcy D'alton Way.

This part leads into the side of a grandiose estate; there is an Alice in Wonderland moment, when there suddenly appears...

...the decrepit remains of an long-unused gateway, which must have been magnificent in its time. Once, this would have been a broad entrance for carriages.

Passing through these architectural sentinels, one almost misses the little hidden sanctuary behind. It is as overgrown as the Secret Garden, with a stone bench for the footsore walker.

The bench is inscribed with a touching memorial, which never fails to bring a lump to my throat.

'To the happy memory of
Henry Haughton Reynolds,
Lord Moreton,
who farmed this land
for more than 30 years
and loved this view.
1857 -1920 '

And this is the view he loved.

Descending into the estate proper, and very much enjoying being a ragamuffin amid riches, I was startled by the somewhat sinister and surreptitious opening of a pair of gates...they paused, wide, as if beckoning me in; then, just as silently, they closed. I wondered if there was CCTV hidden somewhere, but logically, they must be sensor activated.

Slightly unnerved, I headed to the end of the footpath, off the estate and onto the firm road again, passing through peaceful villages and making a long loop to return home.

By now the sun was hot, but it was a gentle heat; more slow cooker than barbeque.

I was amazed to find that I had been out for three hours, returning at midday. To mark my thorough enjoyment of our part of the Cotswolds that morning, I treated myself to a small lunch of oatcakes and locally made Crudges
Haddon Gold Cheese.

High point - magnificant views and stunning estate grounds.

Low point - to be honest, absolutely none!


  1. I love your Alice gates - I wish I had a rabbit hole handy that I could go down and wind up there! Did you get a good hill to go down on the way home? I bet Hercules would love that:)

  2. Absolutely lovely. I don't even like cycling but wanted to be there. And I love the cheese.

  3. Quite lovely - a treat. The cheese and oatcakes? A perfect ending...

  4. PG, thank you so much for taking your camera long with you and Hercules. The views that you've show us are treasures. (Those moving gates would have freaked me out a bit, too. No question about it.)

    The bench with its inscription ... well, I would have had very teary eyes.

    Thought you might be interested to hear that on my way back from a walk through Central Park, I came upon a huge police presence, and by waiting a bit and following the advice of a kindly policeman, was treated to the opportunity to see President Obama's big motorcade pass by, and to trade waves with him. The vehicle's windows were tinted, but there was no mistaking those ears and that smile.


  5. Love this blog! Keep biking and taking us with you!

  6. Three hours....what bliss in such surroundings. I was with you looking at that stunning view. And I hope Hercules had a sugar lump for all his exertions! LOL! ;-)

  7. Loving these trips out with you. Forgotten gateways and secret benches stir the imagination and that cheese looks divine!

  8. Brilliant Blog! I will make it a favorite.

    Yes, why must cyclists wear Lycra?...


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