Les@A Tidewater Gardener recently issued a challenge – go for a walk, starting from your front door, and post about it, before Winter officially ends on 19th March. I’ve really enjoyed the walks from other people’s front doors that have resulted from this, so as soon as we finally got a sunny day I set off with my camera. I figured I would take you to my allotment and back, but the long way round to give you a feel for the village and surrounding countryside.
Its not the most promising start, just an alley between the houses in our cul-de-sac. My route snakes through another alley in the estate until I get to this rather lovely old coachhouse.
This is the first glimpse of the old Wickwar. My route takes me right down the aptly if somewhat boringly named “Back Lane”, which runs parallel with the High Street and used to mark the western edge of the village. (The forsythia is for Mike…)
At the end of the lane I always at least glance right, which is the first glimpse of Cotswold Edge. This is the escarpment that marks the western edge of the Cotswolds proper. I never really think of myself as living in the Cotswolds, as the term conjours up images of the chocolate box prettiness of The Slaughters or Moreton-in-Marsh. Wickwar isn’t like that, for all that pretty much all of the buildings on the High Street – and many in the surrounding area – are Grade II listed. Officially though, this is the Cotswolds.
Turning my back on the view my route takes me up to the High Street, and the local pub. Yes, I live in stumbling distance of it! A sign of the times, it now offers free WiFi alongside the locally brewed ales and home cooked food. The pub was recently taken over after a long period of caretaker landlords, and the new owners are very committed to making the pub the centre of village life again. They are running all sorts of activities, including exercise classes and during half term a children’s cinema. We thought we were going to lose the pub altogether, so we are thrilled to have such enthusiastic people in charge of it. The name comes from the nearby Buthay or archery practice ground, where the archery Butts were.
This rather lovely building sits at the only major road junction in the village, and is the old rectory. Half is now a rather swish private house, the other half (which used to be the Sunday School) is one of the community buildings in the village. I once went to a rather strange Tai Chi class there where the teacher made me stand in a different place because she said my Chi was too negative and could badly affect my fellow classmates! Granted I was depressed at the time, but really…
My normal route to the allotment would take me off left here, but instead I headed off right and got my first glimpse of the church through the trees. The church itself, like so many old churches across England, is sited on the highest point in the village.
From this direction the approach is via a steep track edged by lime trees. In mid Spring the effect is of a lovely lime green tunnel, but currently the trees are bare and the suckers have yet to be trimmed back. I expected to see lots of lesser celandine and perhaps even the first of the wild garlic, but it was just leafy growth.
It did make me realise how woefully ignorant I am when it comes to identifying native flora though – what does the frothy foliage by the celandine leaves belong to?
As the avenue of lime trees gives way to the start of sunny sheltered slope of the graveyard, primroses and snowdrops appear.
I like the fact that the graveyard is not kept immaculately clipped, and the wild flowers are allowed to spread at will. In summer there are wonderful butterflies, but despite the warm sun I didn’t even hear a bee.
Holy Trinity parish church is 12th century. It isn’t particularly special in any way, in fact it is very similar to the parish church in the village I grew up in, but I rather like it. It sits well in the landscape, not at all posh, like the village, but solidly built and very, very English.
The modern part of the graveyard is on the other side of the church, on an open hillside with wonderful views over the Cotswold Edge. This also gives a rather fine view of the local brewery, a subject close to my heart…
Wickwar Brewery is a big local success story. It only started in 1990, in a much smaller building now used as the brewery shop. It moved to the old Arnold Perret & Co. building pictured above in 2004. The local pub sells their delicious – and award-winning – beers, as does the shop. Sometimes supporting your local businesses is a real pleasure ;-)
The track back down from the church is often lined with celandine at this time of year, but apart from the occasional flower, this time it was pretty bare. I did notice a distinct green fuzz to the silhouettes of some of the trees though.
I was somewhat taken aback to read that Lesser Celandine is also know as pilewort – I’ll leave you to look up why if you wish to know more…
Crossing the main road out of the village my route took me to one of the more exclusive areas. The road is lined with substantial stone-built houses on large plots. Enticing gates offer glimpses of large kitchen gardens. Immaculate yew hedging tops beautiful old stone walls. I’ve always been rather envious of the lovely orchard.
The verges were decorated with snowdrops very much past their best, and the main colour came from the blue sky, dogwood stems, lichen, and the unexpected sight of a cow wearing green eyeshadow…
Turning my back on the rather beautifully restored old hunting lodge, a stile took me in to the grounds of a set of barn conversions. The weeping willow with its curtain of brilliant yellow reminded me of my childhood, when I loved to run through the one grown by our neighbours.
The public footpath runs alongside a small lake that must have one of the largest butyl liners money can buy! The owners have never planted it up, which is a great shame. Mind you, I dread to think what it would cost, and I’d not want to be the one responsible for splitting the Irises! It does have an Island that always has ducks nesting on it, usually hosts a couple of swans, and they have planted hundreds of trees around the sides. Currently the only residents appear to be a pair of Canada Geese.
Over the rather enticing little bridge the path crosses a field and drops in to the top of the Community Orchard and then the allotments.
A brief chat about how early to plant out potatoes and how to combat the slugs, and I headed off down the track. This passes the small industrial estate, which may not be the prettiest areas in the village but is certainly one of the most important. I also rather like the fact that a group of office workers take a daily lunch break walk around the allotment field. Not a bad place to be able to escape the workplace for.
Past the rookery and I am back to the High Street, standing behind the Old Rectory again, and almost home. A round trip of around 2 miles that reminded me of how lucky I am to live here. I suspect anyone who has reached the end of this post deserves a prize, I got a little carried away, but hey, its good to love where you live! Pop over to Les’s blog to take some very different late winter walks.