Cotswold Life - - COTSWOLD WAYS -

From The Wool­pack, Slad, head north up the High Street past the church. Con­tinue up the lane un­til it comes to a fork. Take the right-hand fork down the slope and fol­low this as it bends to the right. Keep fol­low­ing it down and along the bot­tom of the Slad Val­ley, pass­ing the charm­ing Stean­bridge Mill, Dil­lay Brook and or­chard.

Pro­ceed up the lane as it climbs the hill – keep on the lane as it passes a farm and a lovely manor house, un­til you reach a fork where there is a bench on the brow of the hill. Catch your breath here if you need to be­fore tak­ing the right-hand fork, which plunges steeply down­wards in a south-south-east­erly di­rec­tion.

Keep fol­low­ing the path down the val­ley, across the field, un­til you come to the Dil­lay Brook. This can be muddy here, so watch your step. There’s a Glouces­ter­shire Wildlife Trust in­ter­pre­ta­tion board and shel­ter just be­yond the metal gate on your right if you wish to tra­verse the usual quag­mire, but the route con­tin­ues straight across the brook, head­ing east (fol­low the Wy­sis Way signs). Through the gate you

climb through a field, en­sur­ing to take the left path that takes you south-east (not north-east).

Keep fol­low­ing this at it en­ters the wooded combe of Pied­mont. You should see a few scat­tered cot­tages. Once a whole com­mu­nity of weavers lived here, and this was the former home of Frances Horovitz.

Walk past the old chapel and weavers cot­tages un­til you get to the lane.

From the lane, leave the Wy­sis Way and take turn a sharp right south-west down the steep foot­path. Mind your step! Cross the brook at the bot­tom and climb up the other side. You are now walk­ing in the foot­steps of Frances Horovitz and her friend, the artist Diana Lodge, to whom the poem ‘Walk­ing in Au­tumn’ is ded­i­cated – in­spired by these woods they loved to ram­ble.

Climb the of­ten claggy lane – which can be vir­tu­ally a stream-bed at times. You come to the brow, where it mer­ci­fully fol­lows the con­tours right. Fol­low it as it heads south and west through the trees of Catswood. It is hard to be­lieve that you are walk­ing along what was the main thor­ough­fare be­tween Bis­ley

and Slad back when the area was a thriv­ing weav­ing com­mu­nity, the site of which can be glimpsed through the trees to your right.

You’ll reach a Lau­rie Lee po­etry post (‘Three Winds poem’), a lit­er­ary land­mark and re­minder of the in­ter­sec­tion of artists and writ­ers who lived and live in the Slad Val­ley. The view looks out across the val­ley over sta­bles. Along this track Frances would of­ten pause to write her notes in haiku form.

Keep fol­low­ing this track along un­til it comes to the met­alled road of Catswood Lane. Just be­fore the road is the pre­cise point where ‘Walk­ing in Au­tumn’ starts: ‘We have over­shot the wood./the track has led us be­yond the trees/to the tar­mac edge.’ If you have a copy of Frances’ po­ems here, this is a good spot for an im­promptu po­etry read­ing.

Turn right at the sign­post for Solomon’s Byre/fletcher’s Knapp. Half­way along this lane, turn left at the foot­path sign and cut down the hill by the pond.

Head west, then south-west across the fields to­wards the pic­turesque ham­let of The Vatch, nes­tled in the fold of the val­ley.

Turn right at the met­alled lane and walk passed the charm­ing houses, tak­ing the steep foot­path right up to Slad Road.

Turn right on Slad Road, and walk back to­wards The Wool­pack where re­fresh­ment awaits!

Weavers Cot­tages, former home of Frances Horovitz

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