2020

Day 7 – ah, the Cotswolds.

Woodstock to Bourton-on-the-Water

Yesterday I left the Thames Path at Oxford and walked along the Oxford Canal path to Woodstock. Today was my one day on the Oxfordshire Way. It was another lovely walk in England.

I set off from Woodstock at 6.30 and walked across the Blenheim estate as if I owned it. Churchill did. Among its treasures is the magic Harry Potter tree along the river bank. Not many people know that unless they’ve taken the guided tour. Today the grounds were empty, not a soul about. Everything was wet from the overnight rain but the day was quite nice, if a little misty.

Ahead of me were 36Km of fine Cotswolds scenery. Every vista available as an oil painting from the many galleries in the many villages. Even the sheep in the fields were available for sale, either for delivery or click and collect. There was a telephone number but nowhere to specify medium or well done. But that’s ok if you’re fortunate to share your life with someone who can cook a leg of lamb. I did once but she dumped me.

Anyway you can probably gather that nothing much happened today. Anyone else would descend into describing the villages, the age of the churches, the colour of the houses, perhaps the local economy. Even something about a famous watchmaker who lived in one of the villages “as a child”. My only interest lies in the people I meet along the way. And today there were none. I love other walkers because they always have a story but I’m happy talking to the Costa Coffee staff, a barber or a gardener. If I come home with a blog full of inspiring people, my mission is complete.

The village store in Charlbury. It wasn’t a Family Mart. I couldn’t pay 100 yen and press the button for a hotto latte. The Indian owner explained the economics of installing a Costa Coffee vending machine which is why he didn’t have one. But he had a kettle, an old tin of instant coffee, a paper cup and some milk. He wheeled out his office chair and I soon enjoyed what was probably the best coffee I’ve had since you know where.

He told me he wants to walk in India and asked me whether I was camping. Well hang on a minute, isn’t there a pilgrimage or two down the Ganges?

The Blenheim estate this morning
Charlford village store

A beautiful Cotswolds church and village…

8 comments on “Day 7 – ah, the Cotswolds.

  1. Paul Buck

    Hello Tim: with all the wet paths and grass I hope you’ve avoided the soaked boots and blisters this time.

    Re the people: you’re absolutely right, it’s the interesting people that you meet along the way, and their stories, that make the trip a great experience. After each trip, I’ve always regretted that I didn’t take more pictures of the people that I chatted with along the way. You can take hundreds of photos of the pretty scenery, but it’s the pictures of the characters that bring back some of the best stories.

    Have fun!
    Paul

    • I think you’d have had a good time on this one, Paul. I know how much you love pretty scenery. Missing you, we all are…

  2. You could have tried talking to the sheep. “What were your A level results?” “BAAA….”

  3. Robert Michael Patrick Hughes

    Hi Tim, So Chipping Camdpen next? The Eight Bells- I can recommend for great food and a friendly welcome- Neil is the Landlord. He might recognise Kwan and I from your photo- if so, have a pint on us and ask Neil to put it on our room for next time we stay (which is long overdue!)

    • Hi Robert thank you that’s very kind. I’m booked into the Volunteer Inn. It should be a good evening. Tim

  4. Philippa

    Bourbon-on-the-Water! We stayed there in May 2018 for a couple of nights, with a walk to Winchcombe and back in between. I remember the walk best for eventually tracking down a very small Roman mosaic in a little tin shed in the woods, about which Bill Bryson waxes lyrically in his first England book. Peter was a little disappointed with it; he’d imagined that it would be a whole lot bigger. And we weren’t even sure if it’s the real thing or a copy; there’s some suggestion that the original was removed somewhere else for safekeeping. However, the rest of Cotswolds (scenery, weather, lovely golden houses, food) was not at all disappointing. This was a couple of weeks before we met you and Paul, when we were walking to Canterbury. Speaking of photos, I have one of Peter & Paul gazing intently at one of Chilham’s lovely white & black timbered buildings, and I think Peter has one of you Tim, with a carved wooden pilgrim statue, also in Chilham. Happy to send them on if you’d like copies!

    • Hi Philippa, I have the photo of the wooden pilgrim which I use on my WordPress account. Hope you’re both ok in NZ

      • Philippa

        Hi again Tim, well, sadly my once photographic memory (ha) has deceived me – when I actually checked it out I found that yes, what I remembered was a photo on your VF blog :(. However Peter does have a short video of the square at Chilham which briefly shows you, Paul, and me. He’s sent me a screen shot of it should you or Paul want to see it. And thanks, so far we’re fine here in level 2 Hamilton, as are our family in level 3 Auckland. Let’s hope it stays that way. Meantime we’re enjoying your blog as you walk through beautiful England.

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