"A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare" - William Henry Davies
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This is such a stunning part of the world where the historic town of Painswick nestles beautifully in the midst of the Cotswold hills. You could make this into an afternoon to simply enjoy a short walk and a cream tea, or you could make a day of it by visiting local places of interest and incorporating a walk. If nothing else it's worth mooching around Painswick itself; there are the Rococo Gardens at Painswick which are defnitely worth visiting; and I can recommend Prinknash Bird Park which is actually en route to Painswick on the A46. We have visited this park many times, especially when our daughter was young, as it has many stunning birds, deer and fish to feed, quaint follies, a nice cafe and all within a beautiful setting alongside Prinknash Abbey. (NB very sad to say that Prinknash Bird and Deer Park is now closed.)
With regards to this walk, I had read another rambler's circular walk which started in Painswick before setting off. It was beautifully written with some lovely photographs and a photocopy of the OS Explorer map plotting the walk. In her narrative she simply said that she set off out of Painswick opposite some pretty mews houses and was soon enjoying glorious views. That's all well and good but, when you get to Painswick, there are numerous footpaths left, right and centre, and even more in the way of quaint Mews houses. The map exerpt was no good because the detail within the town itself did not pinpoint which footpath she took and the long and the short of it was I for one could not have followed this walk from the details provided.
I have referred to the respective OS maps within the MAPS tab that can be used if you prefer to follow a map. However, I always found I quite liked to have a narrative to follow and in fact owned 2 walking books, now quite out of date, but at the time very useful, which we used to give to our young daughter to read out on our walks as she felt more involved and quite enjoyed being in charge. She could look out for yellow signs and stiles in hedges and always got quite excited when she spotted the next plotted turn on our walk into the unknown. You could of course use a combination of both, but either which way I am confident that you should be able to enjoy a walk with no chance of getting lost..............unlike myself it seems.
I set off, map in hand, saw a Cotswold Way footpath sign leading away from the Rugby Club, completely ignored my map assuming my walk must surely be following the CW sign and ended up back in Painswick after about 15 minutes, having gone in the opposite direction to the one I had intended. I therefore stomped back to the Rugby Club. I then took the left signpost, followed by a right where a footpath was shown on my map, and where, initially anyway, there were signs of a track of sorts. However, the path turned into a pathlet and soon quite simply a path-etic excuse for a path (see what I did there?) and I had to turn back once more. At this point my pedometer app kindly pointed out, in her extremely annoying American accent, that I had been walking for 45 minutes as I stood once more outside the Rugby Club. Snazzin' frazzin' footpaths. I looked at the map again which seemed to suggest there was a pathway across the field which was about the only direction the various footpath signposts did not offer as a direction one could take. I trudged across the field muttering about the state of our walkways in this county and at the point I reached the far corner, already resigned to reacquainting myself with Painswick RFC, a stile presented itself to me with a faded yellow footpath sign. Yee hah! And I'm off, nearly an hour into my allotted walking timeslot.
There were a number of choices of paths along the way and it was not always clear to me which one was the one I needed to take according to my map so I simply had to go with my instinct. Given that I can wander into a shop, come out and forget what direction I was going in when I went in, you might be right in thinking this ill-advised. However, it seems to be one of the few things I have got right thus far on my walks so I can only assume my town centre disorientation is down to the fact I am not concentrating on the walking, being more interested in the shiny things in shop windows, much to my husband's chagrin. Whatever the reasons, I have ended up with another nice, short, circular walk. Look out for bunny rabbits and squirrels. The first time I did this walk, all along the pathway underneath a pretty arch of trees, the white cotton wool tails of bunnies bobbed up and down ahead of me before disappearing into the neighbouring fields, accompanied by grey squirrels bounding down the lane before leaping up the bark of a tree. On my second visit I saw a green woodpecker flying low ahead of me, over the fields and into some woods, emitting a loud cackle as he disappeared.
Part of the walk takes you up a narrow path that seems to have a permanent trickle of water running down, and , as a result, has extremely muddy sections. It might be worth taking a spare pair of shoes in the car. The path is lined by 2 tall hedges hiding the landscape beyond, which makes the emergence at the top of the path after a reasonably long climb all the more splendid.
The first time I completed this walk, despite traversing numerous fields, there was not one bovine or ovine creature in sight. So, when I got home and started to put pen to paper, or should I say fingers to keyboard, I started by writing "no farm animals on this walk, yahoo". As I continued to write the directions for the walk, I soon realised I could not make head nor tail of my scribble - for goodness sake how hard can this be!! There was nothing else for it, I was going to have to visit the darn rugby club again! I decided I would once again risk taking my phone with me as it has a voice recording app and that way I could describe my walk as I went along, rather than using pen and paper. (BTW I keep doing this; making references to previous blogs as if you the reader are reading these in order; and why would you be? If you have picked this walk first, you are reading this blog and this blog alone................... if at all. My phone comment refers back to the Apperley Blog when I managed to irretrievably lose my phone in some woods). Anyhoo, I set off again, phone in hand and successfully plotted the walk without losing phone, but was surprised to find that, only 1 week after my first effort, some of the fields were now occupied by sheep, and one in particular in some numbers. I therefore had to retract my audacious "Yahoo!" and point out that if I have said in my blogs there are no animals present, you may find this not to be true when you walk the walk.
Animals or no animals, afore long you are winding your way back through the streets of Painswick and making your choice of which beverage and/or vittles you are going to enjoy.
The walk along the top of the next couple of fields offers lovely views and leads you to a sign describing a Roman Villa called Ifold, now covered over and the site of Highfold Farm. Towards the end of the walk and as you are beginning to enter the streets of Painswick once more, you get a glimpse of Painswick House in the distance.
I revisited this walk accompanied by husband and dog. Nothing much had changed which was good, although the section I describe above as a path with a wee rivulet running down it, lined either side by hedges was quite overgrown. We managed to pick our way through but there were nettles and thistles - I'm glad I didn't have shorts on. I may take a pair of secateurs with me next time; in fact I think it's something I should take along as a matter of course - note to self. What also hadn't changed was the confusion outside the Rugby Club, either that or there is some kind of force-field surrounding the club preventing anyone from escaping "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave". Actually on this occasion a cricket match was just kicking off, or bowling off, which might have been quite enjoyable. Back to reality. I asked my husband to follow the instructions to ensure that they made sense. He stood with his back to the club looking at the footpath signs, then the clearly visible footpaths and decided my instructions must be wrong. Referring back to another blog, this is the guy that constantly tells our Satnav she is talking rubbish and ignores her because he knows a better route. "Just follow the instructions" I snap. Basically you either cross the field at about 1 oclock from the gate, or you turn right and then left before you reach the next gate and follow the edge of this field with the fence on your right until you reach the far corner. It doesn't help that the next gate you need is not visible until you pretty much stumble upon it.
From here on everything seemed very straightforward and as described.
We were accompanied most of the way by numerous butterflies: hordes of Meadow Browns, some Gatekeepers, Marbled Whites, Brimstone, Peacocks and Whites. We also saw a Kestrel - a very distant shot but I am told this is a juvenile Kestrel.
It is a nice and easy, 1 1/2 hour walk with some pretty views towards the end.