Or Remembrance, a Disgruntled Pheasant and Tall Shadows…
A beautiful morning with a thick mist hanging over the fields. It retreats slowly as the sun gets up. The still air is loud with the constant complaints of ducks.
It is a close run thing and does call for some creative thinking but we do get through the weekend without washing a dish! Mind you we do have to eat our toasted cheese on handmade silver foil dishes this morning.
We drive the couple of miles to Winchcombe and park down a side street as the centre is shut for Remembrance Sunday.
Clad in our walking gear we sing the National Anthem and watch the March Past before heading on up past the church.
We follow tracks and lanes to finally emerge onto Cleeve Common. This is the largest area of unimproved limestone grassland in Gloucestershire and along with Leckhampton Hill has the thickest sections of exposed Jurassic rocks in the country.
We eat lunch looking out on a landscape of rounded hills. Winchcombe glows honey warm in the valley below. We take the Cotswold Way along the western edge of the Common. The plain spreads out before us and we can see Cheltenham and Gloucester as well as the Malverns and Welsh hills.
We pass below Cleeve Cloud which is the site of an Iron Age Hillfort. Cleeve Hill is the highest point in the Cotswolds at 1,083 feet.
We leave the Common on a stony path that winds through rolling hills to a crossroads by some abandoned farm buildings. We take the left fork and walk on through sunken lanes to Belas Knap. Flocks of small birds flutter in the leafless hedges and a fine, male pheasant struts down the path in front of us, only taking rather disgruntled flight when Darrell mutters loudly about pots, red wine and plenty of vegetables…
We have Belas Knap to ourselves and on a clear November day with bright but low lying sun it is eerily beautiful. It is thought to be 5500 year old and is a Neolithic long barrow in which at least 38 people were buried in the four chambers. They probably lived as cattle herders, farmers and hunters. Animal bones and flints were also buried in the tomb along with Roman coins and pottery. It’s inner walls were made in the same style of Cotswold drystone walls as is still used today. The name means ‘hill top beacon’ and suggests the Saxons used the site.
We take a path through woodland back to sheep fields above set high above Winchcombe. The sun is just on the horizon and we cast long shadows on the rough grass as we head back to Monty…