Monday, January 15, 2007

In search of Oliver Cromwell's Clump & The Royal Oak Walk. 14-01-07

First time walker Nick joined Doc leaf Liz, Dave and I for a mysterious walk from Winchcombe in search of Oliver Cromwell's Clump.

This is a little known monument near Hailes, in-fact people I know, who have lived in Winchcombe for years have not heard of this monument.
We set off at 10:30 am on what was the best day of the year so far with brilliant sunshine and a slight chill in the wind.

We tip toed through the mud along the Cotswold Way on the way to Hailes and It's famous Abbey which was first founded in 1245.

I took a photo of the new abbey but not of the old one.
After passing Hailes fruit farm and a few people on horse back we started the long climb up through the wood to the lavish green rolling hills and magnificent views of the Cotswolds and the Malvern hills.

Sadly the photos do not do it justice, but as we entered the field and continued to climb Cromwell's clump came into sight. Now if your wondering what the clump was for?
local legend says that Cromwell sat there to view the battle of Hailes. The last 50 meters became very steep and we nearly had to use our hands to climb up, but we made it just as the wind was picking up a bit and it was get quite cold.

It was surprisingly busy up there with people just wanting to sit a while and soak up the sumptuous 360 degree views.
But as the wind continued to pick up we left and carried on our walk and munched on some oranges that I gave out,
though our hands felt the brunt of the wind as we tried to peel them, but it was well worth it!
More mud was tackled especially by Liz getting quite bogged down at times. But we all Laughed

Onwards and Sunday lunch was upper most on our minds, but where would we go? Doc leaf expressed an open fire as her criteria, Nick would eat anywhere and Dave would just fall in line I reckon . . . . . .
Gretton and the Royal Oak was chosen, but when we arrive all tables were taken and it was nearly the end off service.
What should we do? Bolt and go somewhere else or gamble on something coming up.

We gambled and won, in-fact scored a table already put by for someone else, hard luck, it was ours and what a treat was in store.
A shoulder of Lamb for 3 and liz had the beef stew, YUm! Plenty of veg came and the meat just fell off the bone along with a very tasty mint gravy, could it get any better? Yep! With pints of 'BB' ale and a pint of 'Cotswold way' all washing down the raspberry and rhubarb pudding.
A perfect end to a perfect day and a meal that Cromwell himself would have been pleased to eat after a battle.

Thanks to the walkers and to Nick making his first of hopefully many appearances.
Take it easy.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Denby Dale & Peak District Walk

Well it really has been a long time since I've last blogged, that is not to say we've not walked a bit, but I keep ether forgetting to bring my camera phone or I'm just run off my feet with work and my impending holiday to Oz and Thailand.
I've been put in a few miles walking with Dave and liz, also a couple of mates from work Mike, Kevin & his dog kate, which took part one Friday afternoon after work in Monmoth - Wales. Cheers Guys

But this week saw me driving 2 hours up north to Denby Dale to meet an old friend 'Joel' who moved 'Up North' a year and a half ago. His House who he shares with his girlfriend Helen is about half way between Sheffield & Leeds, but very close to the famous Peak District (lucky boy).
We parked the car in brilliant autumn sunshine and got booted up.
I have actually treated myself with a new pair of boots, as the old ones were rubbing so much in the end
They were to prove a good buy as I 'yet again' twisted my ankle, thankfully, there was no damage. This Time!

As Joel and I struck out through the lush pine wood it would be fair to say that the air was pretty chilly and the wind was the strongest of the Autumn so far.
We chatted about of old times and and stuff for apple Mac's , Joel is a true expert in this field  so I was sure to pic up a tip or two. 

As we gently ascended out of the wood we were to be greeted by yet more strong winds, but with the added bonus of the hill that we were to climb, Sunny, clear and full of promise we proceeded to march to the summit. This was when the wind would come into it's own, ringing through our ears and trying to take the spit from of our mouths as we battled on onwards and upwards.

The ice from puddles crunched under foot as we carried on the ascent, the wind became so strong that merely breathing became a thought you had to do.
That was not to say it was not fun, floating in the air like a free fall parachutist, gazing from what seems like the top of the world at the wonderful view below had it's own rewards.
We also came across a few fell runners, one even had shorts on (what A Nutter!) we gave them a friendly wave though.

Eventually we did get to the top and we were rewarded in not only panoramic views but also with chocolate bars Yum! they were very welcome indeed.

After battling so much to get to where we were it would be a real treat to descend, the wind was literately lifting us down the hill and guiding us back to the car. Though a little twist of the ankle reminded me to go slower, but we managed to get back in no time at all, what skill!

So we retired with our rosy cheeks.
And then we had time to go to a village (of which the name escapes me now), but the TV program 'Last of the summer Wine' was filmed there.
A pint of guinness in the pub followed be a pot of tea and some hearty lunch in cafe would round of a very blowy but rewarding mornings walk.
Thanks Joel.

Many thanks to everyone else for reading my little blogs and for giving me so much encouragement too
Cheers carl.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The 'Upper' & 'Lower Slaughter' walk

Well this was the first walk that we have done since the 21 mile 5 valleys walk, now amazingly a month ago,
and guess what! I left my phone at home and there for have no pictures to take unless I go back that way today for Sunday lunch and take a few then.
it wont be quite the same. So this blog will be quite short and with one photo.
Walkers today were Dave and I, Liz was at work which is quite normal if we walk on a Saturday.
We set off from Naunton which featured in a walk a little while ago. Dave soon spotted a mushroom which we picked, I've been waiting for mushroom season to start so was well chuffed to find these beauties, they were pretty huge too.

We came upon the brilliantly named 'Upper Slaughter' which is where I had a weird experience- Dave and I were trying to find our way on the map when we heard a beep from a car,
Considering this is a sleepy Cotswold village, I bumped into a couple (Clive & Lucy) who live in Dublin (Ireland) that I had known a few years who were driving around aimlessly looking for friends that live in ether 'Upper' Or 'Lower' Slaughter' without even having their address's or phone numbers. ( I could say that this sounds very irish- but I had better not, it is not terribly P.C.)
After a quick chat we went on our merry little way, it was nice to see them! (I hope Munster win for you today Clive)
We then went off to 'lower Slaughter' both these places are very picture perfect and very posh, but a bit to many tourists for me to want to live there.
After skirting passed 'Bourton on the water' we then walked along the valley back to Naunton for a quick lime and soda as I've decided to give up alcohol for 6 weeks in preparation for my Holiday to Thailand and Australia. The Black horse was pretty busy so we hotfooted it back to Cheltenham for lunch at the Strand (my local).
And thats is for this week, next time i'll remember to take my camera phone with me.
Cheers for reading,

Sunday, October 01, 2006

No Walking today It was a complete Wash out.

After phoning the usual guys Dave, Liz and now Tony.
Sophie expressed an interest on Friday night so I rang her too to arrange a time of 10 am.
Everyone was prompt but by then the rain was lashing down.

We all had tea and waited a while, but then the storm became one of the biggest ones of the year so far.
So thats it really- no walk no blog, and everyone went their separate ways.
But wait, remember the Halfway house in Kineton?
The roast was pretty good there a couple of weeks ago and now I'm not so hung over, I had to find out, would it taste any better? or was it just a blip and that they just got luck with it?
We should soon find out.
So Tom, Jon, Tony and I went over in my car also taking along my new foraging kit (more of that later),
Jon & Tom are new to this blog and show no interest in walking, but they do like to meet up for the good food sometimes.
Talking of which lets get onto the food. The Halfway House was fairly busy and every table was taken, luckily for us we a found the last one.
We ordered 3 roast beef (or how they like to call it here 'rare roast beef') and one pork for me, plus 4 pints of 'BB'.
Now I like to think that I have a bit of knowledge when it comes to a good Sunday roast as I eat out pretty much every week.

But this one surpassed every roast that i've eaten, I kid you not it was the tastiest and (as Tom pointed out) the most colorful roasts Ever.
I'm afraid that my photo does not really do it justice, but it came with Pork, roast potatoes, cabbage, mashed carrot, red cabbage, roasted parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower cheese, crackling, apple sauce and one of the nicest gravies which sadly let down many a good meal in other establishments.
This meal was truly amazing and I highly recommend it! (As you'll be able to see by are very cleaned up plates.)

It could not possibly get any better. . . . . . . . . but it did!
Now I'm not really into desserts but we were so impressed we had to order some,
and WOW!
Pineapple with a cocoanut ice-cream with some sort of raspberry sauce does not sound too great to me and it was my 3rd choice, but they had ran out of everything else.
It was delicious to the extreme, the temperature was right, the taste was spectacular and it went down a treat, unbelievable was the comment from someone.

After a quick chat with the chef to tell her what we thought and that we would be back very soon.
I took my foraging kit from the car and off we went to find some Hazelnuts or as Tony later found out via his good lady Michele, they are called 'cob nuts'.

I was mainly scrapping around on the roadside trying to find the ones that had not been eaten by the squirrels.
I had found quite a hearty lot but it wasn't till I got back to the car that Tony had found by far the best place and hundreds of them were just lying around,
in-fact we walked straight pass them at the very begin.

And what started as a wash out has now turned into a very fruitful if not nutty day
but as they say every cloud has a silver lining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . but I think ours was gold today.
Cheers Carl.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Meningitis Trust - 'Five Valleys Walk' 2006

Wow what an epic we have for you this week, a 'full on' 21 mile (33.8 k) walk taking in Five valleys around the Stroud area in Gloucestershire. (U.K.)
The day started very dubiously, waking at 7:30 am to lots of rain and dark misty sky's, my first thought was that we would never walk in this, it would have been ok maybe on our usual little 10 mile jaunts but 21 miles? Forget it!
But then a miracle, well not quite, as I gazed out of the window in the direction we were to go, I saw blue sky's appearing, and with that hope of a good day.
So with that a quick phone call to Dave to reassure him all will be well, and of course Liz needed extra reassurance ~ "I can see over the hill and they are all wearing Hawaiian shirts' I quipped.
Now call a 'new walker' to our scene Tony (aka Maloney) to tell him all is well and we are ready for the off.
We started from Nailsworth at the far south of our route finder, paying our money and acquiring said route sheet we are to collect stickers on the way round as prove of reaching each check point.
Oh I nearly forgot we have got a late arrival Liz's Mum (Julie) who is a veteran of this walk and knows it inside out.
Off we went finally at 9:35 and straight onto one of the hardest parts of the walk, a whacking great hill on the way to Minchinhamton Common, we huffed and puffed and went passed a few people that looked as if they would never make it. (i don't really want to mention near death as that would not be polite) but as far as I know we all made it in the end.

You can actually start this walk from anywhere along the route, so perhaps it would be better to start from the check point before our start point so as to warm up a bit.
Nevertheless our party did it really well and we continued to frog march over the common, I started to skip a bit and got a few strange looks from a passer by and my friends threatened to disown me so I stopped, just as well as I wouldn't be able to keep that up.

Liz's mum was lagging behind as she's not a great fan of hills and likes to take it easy, but she is 58 after all so will let her off. . . . .
Oh but what this? A mile more down the road and she has caught up (what speed) she has now earned the name of 'Snail on the hill but a whippet on the flat'
It's a bit of a tongue twister but very descriptive.
After the check point we continued on & Tony and i picked up quite a pace and left the rest for dead, in-fact we started to jog round through a wood and down the valley, very pleasant and made a nice change.

At the next crowded check point we had a bit of a rest, me gobbling up a couple of boiled eggs and some nuts while waiting for the rest to show up, Maloney nipped behind some cars on a drive way to whip off his jeans to put shorts on, and 'dam' I forgot to take a photo, I'm sure other people thought he was up to no good. (which would normally be the case)
~ (only joking Tony.)

Brimscombe & Eastcombe have now been conquered, and as we all re-grouped to head off to the Slad valley where the scarecrow points the way. Cheers Scary.

Now this is the most dangerous part of the walk, it must be stressed this is not due to the terrain but the excellent pub 'The Woolpack' (see first blog) as stated it is my favorite public house, if we were to go in there then we would have to be very careful and limit ourselves to ONE pint only. As we approached Slad we were very much taken in by the spectacular views over most of the Valleys that we were walking, the weather had held off and indeed been pretty sunny. . . . . . Ah Perfect.
We stopped to take photos of said view and to admire the Woolpack from a far.

An apple  was taken by me as we descended into Slad and on to the next check point, just under 10 miles have been covered so far and a blister has started to appear on my right heal, Ouch!
I hope it would not get any worse . . . . Fat chance of that.

But what's this?? I don't believe it! It was decided, that we would give the woolpack a MISS and press on, "well I never". No Lunch and NO beer!
We wanted to be able to collect all our stickers before 5:30 as the checkpoints close at this time so this was a very wise decision.
In the words of my good friend N.R.M. "Walk On Carl" (thanks for your comments on the blog mate, hope to see you with us soon)
Walk on we did, and upward, and upward, and upwards to an open common with plenty of sun on it, and there for on us too Phew, this was tough going we are knackerd and still not at the top. My feet were hurting and my head was throbbing there was sweat dripping from us, so what did Tony Maloney and I do? Thats right we ran the last 50 meters to the top. (Fools) It nearly killed us, well not quite.

And then prove that there is a god as we reach the top we entered a very cool 'Standish Wood' bliss and what a tonic, better than beer at the woolpack . . . . . . . . . well . . . . . . . again not quite!

In the interest of keeping this blog short-ish I can't write all that accrued on this walk other wise i'll be here for hours.
Walk on. . . . . . . . . . . .
And we do down the cool wood with the sun lightly streaming through, the end was in sight or so I thought, on reaching our next check point in 'Stonehouse' we had the very forgettable cheese burger, but at these sort times anything would taste good, sadly at this time and for £1:70 it did not, it was eaten anyway. (but if the money went to charity then it was money well spent) (I suppose.)
Well, spent was exactly how we were all feeling and we still had just under 5 miles to go, yes thats right another FIVE miles.
My heals are now in full blister rubbing mode, Tony feeling the same decides to jog to try and ease the pressure, it works a bit for him but not for me Ouch, ouch OUCH!!
When will this all end?? Liz was chief whiner last week this week it was ME follow by Malone.
Dave aka country curry didn't have any problems all day. (bugger)

As we checked into the penultimate check point liz lay on a wall (this laying down may catch on) while we got our stickers put on our route planner.

We had spent the last 3 miles on a flat disused canal, then a disused railway track that is now a Cycle track, we then still had 2 more miles to go, this was indeed the trickiest bit even though it was flat and to be honest boring, it hurt!
We put our heads down and grinned and bared it till we walked through a lane and were totally caught by surprise as it was the end, we had made it Whoopee!!!

Of course we got our final stickers put in and a certificate was awarded and a picture taken . . . . . . . . I hadn't felt so tired in years.
Back to the car and every step was a struggle but the joy of finishing was matched by the joy of taking one's boots off, and dangling your feet out the car window on the way to the 'Holy Woolpack' for a pint of 'Old Spot'. . . . . Cheers,

And would we be do it again next year ?
Too right we will.

Many Thanks CHEERS Carl.