In our experience, New Year’s Eve can often be such a boring anti-climax, so this year it was time to try something different and what a great day out walking with our good friends it turned out to be.
With all this wonderful countryside on our doorstep we arranged to meet up with Dave & Mike at Sainsbury’s in Stroud at 9:30am. After days of the most awful wet weather, we were blessed with a glorious morning as we set off along the cycle track and climbed the Jacob’s ladder footpath taking us across the muddy and slippy fields towards the top of Selsley Common.
The Common stretches across 97 acres and is an area of outstanding natural beauty and overlies the jurassic limestone of the Cotswolds. The National Cotswold Way Trail meanders directly through the centre of the common where local landowners still have the right to let their cattle graze. The panoramic views on a clear day are just super. You can see for over 30 miles. The western scarp face falls hundreds of feet to the flat Severn Valley. Beyond the Forest lie the Black Mountains and beyond these the Brecon Beacons. Also located on the scarp is an ancient Bronze Age barrow.
We were greeted by strong winds on the peak of Selsley so after we had taken some photographs and admired the views it was time to make our exit and we set off on our trek taking the top trail through Penn Woods. The undulating path goes on for around 3 miles before finally reaching Coaley Peak.
On this occasion we decided to cross the road at Nympsfield and make our way down the track to Woodchester Mansion which is now a National Trust property. It’s located in a sheltered and tranquil hidden valley and is an unfinished gothic mansion house dating back to the 1850’s, well worth a look around if you are passing. It is allegedly haunted and has been the location for TV’s “Most Haunted” show.
It was lovely to see the rare breed belted Galloway cows and Jacob sheep as we passed through the park grounds and the private syndicate fishing lakes always look wonderful in all seasons. 8 miles into our walk and it’s late morning so time to make our way to our refreshment stop, The Village pub at Nailsworth . At the end of the Park we took a short cut past the retirement home and up the bank to Windsoredge and followed the lane for around 2 miles until we dropped down into Nailsworth town.
The Village is a very cosy and quaint Gloucestershire pub with all sorts of old artefacts which give a nostalgic feel and take you back to the early 1900’s. We love the back lounge room which has a fireplace and ticking old clock. But best of all we love the fact that they brew their own ales on sight downstairs in the pub. Our friends loved the beer so much we had to stay longer than planned for another pint! The pub does not sell food but we saw people bring in their fish and chips from the shop next door and eat them from the paper whilst having a drink which in itself is unique.
Heading out on the Avening Road after a mile we could not resist a quick stop at one of the best pubs in the area, The Weighbridge Inn. For those of us brought up in this area, so that’s all of us apart from Graeme this is a public house we first went to over 30 years ago in our teenage years and it still has the same appeal to us now. It is an old fashioned country pub in its style and ambience with roaring log fires and candles on the tables. The Weighbridge is well known for it’s selection of two in one homemade pies. Half meat and half cauliflower cheese. They are simply heavenly you just have to try them. The pastry just melts in your mouth and washed down with a local Uley ale you will, we guarantee not be disappointed.
Our premature stop turned out to be a good idea because we avoided a heavy rain storm whilst stopping to sample the fare. Reluctantly dragging ourselves away, we made our away across the road and scrambled up the hill in our muddy boots into the woods which led up to Box and the outskirts of Minchinhampton Common. The road beside Beaudesert Park School leads all the way to the village of Amberley and our final stop the Black Horse Inn. A 400 year old traditional pub tucked away amongst the village houses, the views across the valley and garden make this pub a very popular place to go all year round.