Cotswold Ways: A walk around Wot­ton -un­der-edge

Stun­ning views, fas­ci­nat­ing her­itage, great pubs – what’s not to like?

Cotswold Life - - EDITOR’S COMMENT - WORDS AND PIC­TURES: Ke­van Man­war­ing LINKS Map: https://gb.mapome­ walk­ing/route_4666064.html Pub: www.fal­con­steak­ starin­nwot­

In se­ri­ous Cotswold up­lands, where Lime­stone con­fines the verges like yel­low teeth, And trees look side­ways. ‘Earthed’, UA Fan­thorpe

There is some­thing ut­terly charm­ing and civilised about Wot­ton-un­der-edge. Is it the pic­turesque main street, gen­tly slop­ing down against the back­drop of high blue hills of the Cotswolds? The colour­ful lo­cal busi­nesses? The Vic­to­rian Ju­bilee clock or Elec­tric Pic­ture House in­de­pen­dent cin­ema? The pho­to­genic row of Alms Houses or the invit­ing hostel­ries with their fine fare? Maybe it is all of those things, and more, hid­den to the ca­sual visi­tor but deeply fa­mil­iar to res­i­dents who have made the quin­tes­sen­tial Cotswoldian town their home, or, hav­ing be­ing born in such a de­light­ful place, de­cid­ing that the most sen­si­ble thing would be to stay.

One of the town’s fa­mous cit­i­zens cer­tainly thought so, the poet UA Fan­thorpe (CBE). She made Wot­ton her home with her part­ner, Dr Rose Bai­ley, af­ter a long and wind­ing road that took her from a Ken­tish child­hood, to the dream­ing spires of Ox­ford, to be­come the Head of English at Chel­tenham Ladies’ Col­lege. Build­ing a ca­reer upon her love of the English Lan­guage, it was not un­til she for­sook academe to be­come a re­cep­tion­ist at a psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal in Bris­tol, that she iron­i­cally found her own voice. In­spired by the ‘strange spe­cial­ness’ of the pa­tients she wrote her first col­lec­tion, Side Ef­fects. So Ke­van Man­war­ing is a Stroud-based writer and sto­ry­teller. He is the au­thor of Ox­ford­shire Folk Tales and Northamp­ton­shire Folk Tales, a con­trib­u­tor to English Folk Tales and editor of Bal­lad Tales, all from The His­tory Press. He teaches creative writ­ing for the Open Uni­ver­sity and in the Stroud area. Twit­ter: @bardi­ca­ca­demic­van­man­war­ be­gan her lit­er­ary ca­reer, re­sult­ing in nine full-length col­lec­tions, prizes and hon­orary de­grees, and ul­ti­mately, the Queen’s Gold Medal for Po­etry in 2003. Her po­etry (wry but warmly hu­mane, like Larkin on a sunny day) of­ten re­flected down-toearth sub­jects and no­tions of English­ness, flavoured with a witty take on things, that has made her work loved by many. Fan­thorpe died in 2009. How ap­pro­pri­ate that not far from this word­smith’s demesne is the mag­nif­i­cent Tyn­dale Mon­u­ment, erected in 1866 in hon­our of the trans­la­tor of the English Bible, who was born nearby, at Melk­sham Court, St­inch­combe. Tyn­dale suf­fered a mar­tyr’s death in Flan­ders in 1536, all for want­ing to make the New Tes­ta­ment ac­ces­si­ble to his coun­try­men. His Tower of Words (aka ‘Ni­b­ley Knob’) is a fit­ting memo­rial, and of­fers spec­tac­u­lar views for those brave enough to ne­go­ti­ate its dark, wind­ing stair­case. Af­ter 121 steps you emerge, breath­less and re­lieved, 111ft up and the glit­ter­ing Sev­ern, mys­te­ri­ous fast­ness of the For­est of Dean, and the wild hills of Wales are yours to be­hold. It might make you want to de­claim po­etry, or scrip­ture – or quickly descend for a pic­nic or pint.

The copse on Wot­ton Hill

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