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On Sunday 8th March 19 members and two visitors set off on a damp and drizzly morning for a walk around the Cirencester area. Jane and Bill, their very knowledgeable guides, led them to the Market Place and out on the road past the leisure centre. The group stopped by St James's Place to see the tombstone and grave recently found by archaeologists, believed to mark the grave of a 27-year-old woman called Bodica. The remains of three children were also found in the "family burial plot". Crossing over by the hospital they took the footpath through Quern's Wood to reach the Amphitheatre, where the outline of the construction is still visible. Roman artefacts including coins and pottery have been discovered on this site and it is estimated that it was constructed towards the beginning of the 2nd century. Leaving the amphitheatre past the 18th century Obelisk at Chesterton the group then walked to the ice cream parlour in Love Lane where many members sampled a few of the many flavours available.The walk continued towards Siddington on hidden footpaths, walking along by the disused Thames and Severn canal until they eventually reached the main road though the village. Crossing by the allotments the route continued on and they had lunch by the old Cirencester road, before eventually reaching the footbridge over the roundabout by Tesco. Walking through the Kingsmeadow estate they crossed over the main road on a bridge to City Bank. There are a number of interesting sights here including a section of the Roman city wall, a disused railway embankment, the River Churn and a mill race. They returned to the car park having walked 5.5 miles and discovered many things they were unaware of about the history of the town.
On Saturday 7th March 37 members and friends attended a Skittles and Social evening at Down Ampney Football Club. The evening began with a fast and furious skittles match. Everyone joined in and the winners were Jane Irving (Ladies) and our Chairman John Bookwood (Gentlemen). A fabulous supper followed with all the food being donatedby members. A veritable spread with various salads, quiches, sausage rolls etc. disappearing in record time. Even so, there was plenty of room left for the inviting selection of cakes, trifle and fruit salad on offer. Many managed second helpings. Stuart Dyer, ably assisted by Sue, then proceeded to organise a game of Irish bingo (very different from the English version!) which was won by Rosemary and Norman.
Paul Maidens put our brains to work with a four part quiz The winning team were Two of Us + Two (Phil,Sue, Debbie and Norman). Everyone had a great evening and many thanks go to Rosemary and Mike for all their hard work, Stuart and Sue and Sue's grandson for organising the skittles and Paul for planning and hosting the quiz.
On Sunday 1st March (St David's Day) 21 ramblers and 4 visitors enjoyed the delights of the Cotswold countryside, complete with wind, mud, snowdrops, crocus, and daffodils. From the Ewe pens car park they walked down through Sherborne Park woods and past Sherborne House and the church, which was built for Thomas Dutton after he bought the manor of Sherborne in 1551. There are many memorials to the Dutton family in the church. The group then went through the village to enjoy a coffee break in the sun. A variety of fields and tracks took them across to the Water Meadows and Windrush Mill, which was previously a corn mill.
A picnic lunch was enjoyed at Windrush in St Peter's churchyard and on the village green. The church, a Grade 1 listed building, is of Norman origin and is quite attractive. They admired the south doorway surrounded by beakheads, which are bird-like carvings of unknown origin. The route back to the cars took them via lush pastures of grazing sheep, and up through the Park woodland, which was carpeted with snowdrops. Some members then refreshed themselves with hot drinks and cakes, in the warmth and dry of the café at Northleach Old Prison.
On Sunday 22 February, 25 members and 1 visitor enjoyed a walk of six miles in the Lechlade area. Starting from the Memorial Hall Car Park, the group made their way down Sherborne Street and the High Street before following a bridleway to the Roundhouse where the Thames and Severn Canal, the River Thames and the River Coln meet. A short stretch of the Thames path took the group to St John the Baptist, the now redundant Anglo-Saxon church of Inglesham which is a Grade One listed building and was vested to the Churches Conservation Trust in 1981. The walkers paused to look around this ancient and fascinating church, which was much loved by William Morris, before following an unclassified road for about a mile to Buscot Wick. They then made their way through Buscot Wick Farm to Buscot Weir where a coffee stop was taken.
On completion of this refreshment break, the walkers followed a more easterly stretch of the Thames path and made their way back to Lechlade, passing Bloomer's Bridge, St John's Bridge and St John's Lock, before walking through a riverside meadow and finally leaving the river bank at Ha'penny Bridge. This bow- backed bridge which carries the A361 road south towards Highworth and Swindon was completed in 1792! Half a penny was the toll for pedestrians to cross the Bridge prior to the abolition of tolls in Lechlade in 1839! The group then proceeded back to the Memorial Hall Car Park along Thames Street and Burford Street, passing through Lechlade Town Centre.
Not yet raining so plenty of happy faces
The Round House at junction of River Coln and Thames
On Sunday 15th February fifteen members and one visitor from the Gloucester group set off on a very misty, damp morning from Seven Springs towards Coberley, before crossing the busy A436 to Hartley Wood. The path took them across fields to join the Cotswold Way above Salterley Grange and on to Ullenwood Manor for a refreshment stop. This quiet country road was very busy with cyclists, horse riders and joggers as they drank their coffee.
Continuing on the Cotswold Way the group passed a wartime American Hospital site before turning downhill towards Crippets Farm and a beautiful little space containing witch hazel, mistletoe and a rampant old man's beard. They continued on weaving their way through a very muddy patch to reach an area known as Leckhampton Fields. A short stretch of suburban paths led the group up to the lower slopes of Leckhampton Hill and on to a former tramway route used to transport stone from the hill, where quarrying was extensive until about 1925. Emerging at the Cheltenham to Birdlip road crossing point they diverged uphill and onto a path skirting the base of the escarpment below the landmark Devil's Chimney. After Clive, their leader, gave them a brief history of some of the many myths surrounding this well-known landmark, they continued climbing. On the top views across Cheltenham were appreciated during a break for lunch, before continuing towards Hartley and back to the start having walked nine very interesting miles in this lovely area.
Lake near Leckhampton Fields
Clive and Maureen, Leader and Backmarker
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