No great pressure on time today, and so after an unnecessarily large breakfast (Julia’s omelet was made with four eggs!), we wandered through the town, buying blister plasters at the pharmacy, and getting bottled water and biscuits at the general store. On leaving Painswick, we cut through St. Mary’s churchyard, admiring the topiary of the many yew trees. There are rumoured to be 99 yews in the churchyard, the devil purportedly preventing the growth of further trees; however, the church’s website maintains that there are indeed over 100.
The morning was grey, but without wind and dry. The day promised more woodland: we moved west through Maitland’s Wood, Halliday’s Wood and Cliff Wood to Haresfield Beacon with its Iron Age earthworks and modern trig point. From here, there were far-reaching views with the Severn looking wide and majestic. We enjoyed another vantage point at the next promontory at Short Wood, before making a gradual descent through Standish Wood.
With lunchtime approaching, the sky lightened up with some sun. We veered East off the Cotswold Way to walk through the village of Randwick and lunch at the Vine Tree Inn. This proved to be a very welcoming hostelry despite the fact that we seemed to be the only customers. After lunch, we meandered down through the village, and looked around its church: St. John The Baptist. We had been descending ever since we had left the CW, and hence we had a steep climb to regain it!
However, the general lie of the land was taking us down into the valley in which nestled the towns of Stonehouse and Stroud. We stumbled across some Gloucester Old Spot pigs in woodland below Maiden Hill. Their owner assured us that they enjoyed short but happy lives. As we approached Stonehouse, we walked through vineyards above the sports grounds of Wycliffe School.
Down in the valley of the Stonehouse/Stroud conurbation we crossed in rapid succession: a railway line, The Stroudwater/Ebley Canal, and The River Frome. We reflected that we hadn’t crossed many rivers – the Cotswold ridge, which we had been following for five days is obviously a watershed! We were soon in King’s Stanley, a village on the outskirts of Stonehouse. Orchandene, an old stone cottage was to be our place of rest for tonight. We walked a couple of hundred yards for our supper at the local pub – The King’s Head. I supped a pre-prandial pint of BOB – I’m beginning to get familiar with the beers of Wickwar. The food was good and solid; no frills; good value – steak and kidney pudding, baked potato with tuna. Adjacent to the bar, there was an indoor skittles alley. Many men congregated there, but they seemed preoccupied with swilling and socialising. We wanted to hang around for the action, but we were too tired! We were back in Orchardene at an indecently early hour.