Out & About

Bredon Hill (Overbury, Bredon Hill, Ashton-under-Hill, Grafton);
Cotswold Walk no.28; 9.5 miles; (6 hours inc. stops)

In summertime on Bredon 
The bells they sound so clear; 
Round both the shires they ring them 
In steeples far and near, 
A happy noise to hear.

(from “Bredon Hill”, a poem by AE Housman)

The sentiment once put to me that “October can be nice, also” has certainly had some traction this Autumn. I head off at the crack of dawn to the village of Overbury to walk Bredon Hill, the last of Jarrold’s Cotswold walks.

I don’t remember where I came by this book now, whether I bought it myself or whether it was a gift. From the many photographs I took on the first walk, an easy two and a half mile stroll around Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire, I can see it began in 2006. I’d splashed out on some decent boots and I am now wearing my fourth pair. It’s a long time over which to complete twenty-eight walks – they could easily be done in a couple of years, I think – but events thwart all endeavours, and god and mice and men. To say nothing of the vagaries of our weather. I am a fair-weather walker, no point in going out to enjoy myself and not enjoying myself.

If you want views, this is a walk for you. They’re almost aerial in a sense, as near as you can look down over a broad landscape and still be on terra firma. The climb is gradual and not too arduous; I was passed by two middle-aged guys on mountain bikes.

Healing Stones

Halfway up, hidden amongst shrubs and trees, are the King and Queen Stones, though I counted at least three separate ones. They are said to have healing properties so I touched the zip of my old and favourite fleece jacket against them as the fastening has become temperamental lately. I’m sorry to say it remains temperamental. Oh well.

Atop The Hill

The summit is expansive and ringed with a typical dry stone wall over which you can see the Midlands of England spread out to the hazy distance. To the west, the dark hills and mountains of Wales. The flatness of the country rising abruptly to the Cotswolds gave me a clear impression of a geological catastrophe. It felt quite surreal, like being in a foreign place. I wished I had a more sophisticated camera than that on my mobile phone, though the emotional response to landscapes can be practically impossible to capture.

Lunch @ The Star

I made The Star Inn pub at Ashton-under-Hill at one o’clock – perfect timing for lunch. It’s a traditional pub and it was very welcoming. I wasn’t familiar with any of the three ales they had on draught and so the landlord talked me through them, and I took a chance on one by Three Brothers. It was very good and complemented my bacon, brie and cranberry sandwich nicely.

As you might notice from the pic, I sat out in their garden, the weather was so good. I wasn’t alone either. October was nice also for a number of drinkers and lunchers.

Saint Barbara Lost Her Noggin

Ashton-under-Hill is a quaint village of mixed buildings, some in Cotswold style, some thatched cottages and some red brick. I poked my nose in their church, as I do. It’s dedicated to St. Barbara, apparently one of only three churches dedicated to her. She was a comely lass, as legend goes; a Syrian possibly, from a heathen family. Her Dad locked her away in a tower to avoid suitors and in this prison she found Christ, much to the annoyance of Dad. When she refused to renounce her new faith, he cut off her head.

The Red not-a-Phone Box

It’s an hour’s walk back to the car which I left in Overbury, passing through the hamlets of Grafton and Conderton. At Grafton, there is a red public phone box, a fine example of one of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s designs, an British icon along with red buses and red postboxes – all red, we must have had a lot of red paint.

I read somewhere there are 40,000 of these phone boxes in existence though British Telecom is gradually removing the innards as use is dwindling due to everyone owning mobile phones. Though the equipment is removed, the boxes may remain and used for different purposes. Housing a defibrillator is quite a common use now. Another use you see in some places is a local lending library where residents donate their unwanted books. Grafton’s box serves both functions, though I can’t imagine any of the titles displayed in it giving anyone cardiac trouble. Still, it looked a well cared for little red box.

A great walk.

By the by, I found out that Ordnance Survey have taken over publishing the Jarrold Walking Guides. My edition has been superseded, and hopefully updated, but the walks are the same. They are very good, look out for them.

Please click on the pics to embiggen. Preferring to walk light, I don’t take a camera and make do with my mobile phone. Whilst okay for portraits and figure images, it tends to be disappointing for panoramic landscapes, which are difficult anyway. Sorry for the quality. After this, I’m thinking of rooting out one of my old cameras and seeing if I can get it to work. But then again…

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