The day had arrived again for one of our little trips away, this time we were off to the Cotswalds, Moreton-in-Marsh. They do come round quick but never quick enough, we love escaping from work and the every day trappings it brings, but saying that if it wasn’t for those restrictions we wouldn’t be able to afford to go away in Pod … catch 22, for the next few years
But, to get back to our trip, we still have a habit of behaving like two kids awaiting a dreamed of trip, Disney World or some other well known adventure park ;). Ready way too early and saying ‘is it time yet’, usually resulting on us discussing all the delays that may be ahead, you known what we mean, traffic, accidents, that mysterious storm that could come from anywhere, result being we would end up leaving up to an hour earlier than planned and arriving half an hour earlier to be told off by the site manager. What can we say .. we’re keen !
On this occasion we calculated with good old a Google it would take 2hrs and 32 mins to get to Moreton-in-Marsh, as we weren’t allowed on the site until 12 we would decided we would leave at 9.30.
We were ready early as usual, you have to give extra time because anything could crop up, couldn’t it ? but we managed to sit on the sofa and stare blankly at what ever programme was currently on the tv with one eye and keep the other on the mantle clock.
We made it to 9am, what can we say ! We suddenly remembered we had to negotiate the local secondary school and the traffic/parking issues it causes, we hooked Pod up and said our goodbyes and off we went approaching the school with trepidation only to realise as we drove past it was the school holidays.. ahmm.
Traffic was extremely light and we arrived at the Caravan Clubs site only 10 minutes early, we apologised profusely to be told if we’d come early it wouldn’t have been an issue.. Sods Law !
The site looked good on first impression, our kind of site, nice sized level pitches surrounded by hedgerows and trees, feels so much better than some which without the greenery to separate the pitches are more like ‘van parks’.
We found a pitch and parked nose out with the awning opening up to the hedgerow. We weren’t overlooked or facing any other vans and the toilet block was only a short walk away, perfect. Weather was better than expected, cloudy with the sun trying to break through, no rain .. yet.
Once Pod was level the awning went up and was attached to Pod, within an hour we had the bed made up, table and chairs set up in the awning and the kettle was on. A quick sandwich and off we went to explore the village of Moreton-in-Marsh.
We reached the village after a 10 minute walk and the buildings were of a yellow hue, all built with the well known Cotswold stone. The shops lined both sides of the road, they had the usual fare on offer as you’d expect, but it also had its fair share of antique shops scattered through out. These were great shops to mooch around and some were out of our league so resulted in one of us staring in with nose pressed against the window. All the items on display made us wish for that small countryside mansion to display them all in.
We stopped off at the a Black Bear Inn and had a couple of pints of Cotswold BB Ale, went down very well whilst we sat in front of the open fire.
The landlord was very accommodating too, every 20 minutes or so he would come over and stir the fire and add another log. That along with one of the locals dogs joining us made us feel like we were home.
We walked back to Pod and began to prepare dinner, we’d bought a George Forman grill the weekend before and were eager to give it a go, it wasn’t going to be easy as one of us is pescatarian and our first attempt cooking fish at home didn’t go very well, let’s say it’s under development and leave it at that.. So tonight it was a tasty pasta dish for one and a good old steak ‘fry up’ for the other.
At the time of purchase it seemed like a great idea and we had high hopes for the grill, it did a great job with the steak but at this point we weren’t convinced it worked well with our set up. We had a few questions to mull over, had we just introduced something else to wash, did it really improve the cooking experience, had it simplified it or just made it longer ? These needed answering and we planned to give it one more go whilst we were away.
After hot showers in the toilet blocks we put our little fan heater on in the awning and settled down to go over the map for the next few days and a game of cards before bed.
We slept extremely well, so snug in Pod, the pop top roof had been up as we like a little air to circulate and as we opened the door to the awning we were met by fresh air and blue skies breaking through. In the night temperatures had dropped to 6deg but with the cold wind it recorded lower.
We put the little fan heater on in the awning and jumped back into bed with a hot cup of tea to catch up on the news before we began our day. Could of stayed there snuggled up for some time but we had walking to do.
After breakfast packed lunches were made and our route decided on. Today we planned on covering three ‘Ways’, Diamond Way, Heart of England Way and the Monarch’s Way, a nice circular route through the country.
Leaving the site on foot, Poddington included, we headed into the village and turned left onto a small side street which took us round the back of the village and through a park, Queen Victoria Gardens.
The route wasn’t marked and we had to rely on our map reading skills as we crossed the road and ventured into a field full of sheep, who on seeing us stood stock still and stared as we manoeuvred our way through them. It was obviously a regular occurrence for them and weren’t concerned by our presence at all.
Winding are way across the fields we headed in the direction of Aston Magna, it was very peaceful and not a soul was to be seen. Bit muddy under foot but nothing that couldn’t be shaken off.. eventually, the soil was red and very clay like, it wasn’t the easiest to walk through. Every now and then we would see an arrow marker but if you didn’t know which direction you were heading in they would have been hard to find.
Our walk took us to a small pond where we stopped for lunch, after which we headed in the direction of the railway, once there we realised it was an uncontrolled crossing which was a little daunting, any crossing is a little scary but this one was uncontrolled and on a bend so our eyes and ears were on overdrive as we literally ran over the crossing, well one of us did..
This took us through more fields and to very open and vast farm land, it was incredibly quiet and a little eerie, save for a couple of alpacas we saw. Very cute appealing faces but they were reluctant to come any closer.
The rain decided to call and turned the ground into what can only be described as quick setting concrete. It seemed to form an outer shoe around the sole of our boots and it was very difficult to get off. In fact I think the continual stopping to rid ourselves off the extra weight added an extra half hour onto the walk, entertaining to say the least.
From here we walked towards Draycott a lovely picturesque village built in the familiar Cotswold stone. We worked our way up a hill and along the path which gave an incredible view down to Draycott, the rain wasn’t for going away but it didn’t dampen our spirits as the feeling of peace it gave us just being out in the countryside couldn’t be beaten.
We skirted round the Falconry and Arboretum and worked our way along the well used path back towards the caravan site. We had the choice of following the road or remaining on the footpath, we decided to remain on the footpath, little did we know what lay ahead.
We were approximately a mile away from the site and crossed the fields with renewed gusto. They appeared a little muddy but nothing compared to what we had recently experienced. Half way through we began to notice big clods of red clay scattered along the path, quite some distance from the next gate. The nearer we got the more we saw and as we closed in on the gate it became very clear why.
It was impossible to reach the gate without walking through a quagmire and that word does not do it any justice. As we found the ‘best’ route through our feet became submerged and if our boots hadn’t been fasten on they would have disappeared beneath the red sucking gloop never to be seen again ..
On getting through this we had two fields to go, we looked ahead and stopped with faces of ‘oh no !’ stamped across them. In front of us lay a huge field of red powder like soil, we knew as soon as we began to walk across it we were doomed to wearing an extra sole to our boots. There was no choice left but to go for it.
We had walked no more than 10 metres and it felt like we had already gained an extra 5lbs in weight, the only way to get it off was to kick out furiously whilst walking through it in what eventually became a vain attempt to rid ourselves of our second sole.
Reaching the other side we were great full to have done so without pulling a muscle or landing unceremoniously on our rear in a fit of giggles.
We passed people heading towards this swamp who were wearing trainers or very pretty suede boots, advice was given but they continued onwards not heading our words of peril. Honestly we’ve never seen anything like it. Mud yes, even mud your feet sink into but this stuff just didn’t like letting go!
Two very tired people reached Pod but once de-kitted and cleaned up in those wonderful hot showers we settled down to a curry tea and beer. Trousers and boots were left to dry and the mud would be peeled, scraped or picked off the following day. We also discovered we had walked just under 16k, not a bad distance at all.
Was a windy night but Pod and the awning remained steadfast and we woke on Sunday to see the majority of people packing up. This would normally have been us too but we’d taken an extra day off and were so glad we had.
Breakfast was eaten and a decision was made to walk the lower half of the village, as we’d walked a fair distance the day before we though a 2 – 3 hour walk would be just the ticket today.
Whilst checking the map for a suitable route we received a message from one of our Twitter followers that one of our pictures of Pod was in Practical Caravan Magazine. We were a little giddy with this news as a month before they had asked to use one of our pictures but never thought it would actually happen. We were as pleased as Punch.
Longborough was our destination and with semi cleaned boots we set off. We walked into the village and past the Swan Inn which has a discount for Caravan Club members, we didn’t try it this time round so can’t comment on the food or facilities.
After taking a side road we found the path that ran through the fields behind the new hospital. The sun was breaking through so it looked like a promising day but we were met with the unforgiving mud we had dealt with the day before.
We trudged along the boggy path and were again surrounded by open fields and a stillness that was only broken by the odd river or brook we crossed, people again, were no where to be seen. We reached Longborough and walked through the sleepy little village to take up the next part of our trek.
Whilst walking through we noticed something we had seen the day before, old telephone boxes refurbished and used as defibrillator storage units, we were very impressed and wondered why this wasn’t done country wide.
Our path was found between houses and it took us across a field and onto a field that contained sheep and our worst nightmare. Red, squidgy, depthless, sucking mud. The field was huge and the sheep were obviously more sensible than us, they were at the far end on the only patch of green that remained.
On reaching the sheep and the green bit, which turned out to be a field full of half eaten turnips, we could see the end in sight, we just had to negotiate the sheep without causing a stampede, this was done without causing too much upset only to be met with an electrical wire fence.
To say we were a bit peeved is an understatement, only because this was a public right of way. We understand the farmer need to protect his sheep but they could have created a path around the field without causing a problem to the crops or sheep.
Faced with having to walk back the way we had come we decided to negotiate the fence. MrB went over first, longer legs helped but his boots were heavily laden down with mud and it wasn’t easy to find an even bit of ground to attempt it.
He succeeded and tried to assist LB over the fence, this he did but the wire caught her inside leg causing of squeal of surprise to hit the air, more out of shock than pain.
The path was found and we walked up hill to find a place to sit, eat and recover from the journey so far.
We found a spot which over looked a grand looking house some way off in the distance, so far it hadn’t rained but the wind was picking up, sitting still we were getting chilly so sandwiches eaten and chased down by our drinks we were soon on our way again.
Over the rolling hills we walked and eventually reached Donnington, a very small village where the Cotswold stone was evident in all areas of building, including the wall surrounding the village pump which had been restored to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth. We walked past the stone commemorating the Battle of Stow and walked down hill back towards Loughborough.
Bourton-on-the-Hill was sat on a main road which led back to Pod, fortunate for us there was no other route back to the site, had we been given a choice of path or road we’re not sure which we would of taken, that said it was nice to walk on solid ground for the rest of the trip back.
Walking back into the site we noticed at least two thirds of the vans were gone and we were looking forward to stepping under those waiting hot showers, but before that our route was checked and we discovered by the remarkable little app we have that our short stroll had in fact been longer than the day before, we had covered over 17k, no wonder we were aching from head to toe.
Showers had and the Forman grill came out to play again, steak was cooked to perfection in the awning and a vegetarian option was cooked in Pod. The grill is great but a decision was made for it to be used in the summer when cooking outside was an option, more of a BBQ for us we thought.
We climbed into bed for our last night in Pod, very cosy and always welcoming.
Sleeping soundly we woke Monday morning and began the process of closing Pod down, never a happy moment but we’d had plenty of fun on this trip to Moreton-in-Marsh and we weren’t too down hearted as Easter weekend was to be spent in Snowdonia, a totally different walking experience waiting for us.