It was time to take a slightly more ambitious hike on the Cotswold Way as we had only been rambling about on shorter 4-7 mile walks. So we mapped out a route to Painswick that seemed a perfect destination for a 10+ mile, long day’s walk.
We had already visited Painswick by bus and had walked quite a bit around the village; but since we did know the bus routine getting back would be simple. Taking the bus to a starting point and walking back, or walking to a place and getting the bus back was a good way to cover larger distances since we still didn’t have a car.
It was an early start from our apartment and just a few hundred yards away to the Cotswold Way where we began going downhill. Crossing a pasture we continued and eventually came across the Stroudwater Navigation canal and followed it for a brief time.
It didn’t take long before we were turning uphill and along the way passed a large vineyard. Historians believe that the Romans once produced wine in these gentle hills, and over the past two decades, a warming climate and the availability of new, hardier breeds of grapes has meant renewed grape cultivation.
Continuing to climb out of the Stroud Valleys over grass pastures, the trail leveled off and eventually entered the cool shadows of the Standish Wood. The branches of the tall trees seemed to form arches resembling the Gothic arches in many of the great cathedrals we have visited. Indeed, to walk in these old forests is like being in a natural grand cathedral.
Further along, we emerged at Haresfield Beacon (a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest) with views of the Cotswolds escarpment and the River Severn. This seemed a good location for a picnic, so we found a place to sit and enjoy our lunch.
Continuing on, we descended from the Haresfield Beacon, through more woods, across the Edge Common with wonderful views over Painswick before passing Washbrook Mill, a former corn mill then a cloth mill. A tablet in the wall of the house is dated 1691.
We arrived in Painswick with time for a pint at the Royal Oak pub before our bus would arrive. The route had taken us over ten miles with 1033 feet (315 meters) of ascent and 1082 feet (330 meters) of descent. After taking the bus back to Stroud and then back to Selsley, we ate a good dinner before retiring our tired feet and bodies for a well-deserved rest.