Robyn's 50th Birthday Celebration travel blog

Blockley church, started 1175

Inside the front door

An unlocked gate to one of the public footpaths

Footpath sign

Oh those English!

Had a bit of wintery weather today. Lots of sunshine, but every once in a while the wind would come up, blow a cloud over, and it would snow for about 10 minutes. Then the cloud would move on, the sun would be back out, and so on. Happened about 10 times today.

In between snowfalls (which never did amount to anything until late in the evening when a bit settled on the tops of cars and garbage bins), I took the first of many (I trust) long walks -- this time just in and around the village of Blockley.

Blockley has been around for a long time -- it was listed in the Norman Domesday Book of 1086AD. It was an important wool centre and had 12 mills (each with its own waterwheel on the brook) in its glory days. The mills became silk mills (mainly making silk thread for Coventry). At its high point, there were upwards of 4,500 residents. Now it is a sleepy village with 2 pubs -- The Crown on the High Street and The Great Western Arms in the Lower Village --, a post office/village shop, a deli, a couple of tourist inns and some B&Bs. No tourist buses as the streets are too narrow. They stick to the larger, surrounding villages like Chipping Campden (about 3 miles away) and Stow on the Wold. Blockley has some lovely gardens, and is a favourite place for The Ramblers' Association, a charity organization that promotes walking and works to improve conditions for walkers. Retirees and weekend warriors (bankers and the like) are the majority of the residents.

The many old cottages of Blockley, while now privately owned and lived in, retain the names from their original owners -- Red Lion (former inn), Ebenezer Chapel, Malvern House (girls' school), The Old Mill, etc. I'm staying at Box Cottage, which was a delivery centre for supplies -- for the tanneries, the High Street shops, and possibly the mills. Hence the "boxes" of things. Now it is a beautifully restored triple-wide cottage, 3 stories, complete with a cat, exposed Cotswold (blonde) stone and Inglenook fireplace. Oh yes, and a North American style gas barbeque, shipped over from Canada.

My first walk took me around the edges of the village and along a little bit of the public footpaths that I expect to explore a lot more of over the next 2 months. I was just wanting to get a nice view back to the village (see one of the pics above) and walked out along the path that was marked as both the Monarch's Way and the Heart of England Way.

The Monarch's Way is Britain's second-longest signed walking trail, a lengthy, meandering route following the flight of Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. It goes from Worcester to Shoreham, where Charles finally escaped to France.

The Heart of England Way is a green route across the West Midlands linking Cannock Chase in Staffordshire with the Cotswolds, running to the east of Birmingham. The route was originally proposed by Alcester Civic Society in 1971 as a link between Lichfield and Chipping Campden, and devised with the help of local walkers' groups including The Ramblers' Association.

These two paths criss-cross at points, one of them being where I encountered it at Lower Blockley by the Great Western Arms.

The most famous public footpath in the area is the Cotswolds Way, which is a 100-mile path from Chipping Campden to Bath.

The footpaths go through villages and farmers' fields, and along roads and old bridle ways (where you can still see the old paving stones). I have a large survey map that will lead me to the various villages around the area.

That's all for today. Rupert is lying on the carpet next to me, and we are both enjoying the warmth of the fire. I plan on going into Moreton-in-Marsh tomorrow to do a bit of shopping and set up my voicemail on my mobile (no service here in Blockley).

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