21.5 miles – Clouds with sun later but…
…But it wasn’t about the weather today ut about the forrest.
I adored this ancient woodland, apparently amongst the finest beachwoods in Europe. I had a sense of being under the trees’ protection… which reminded me of Phanmtastes.
For my money George MacDonald is the outstanding writer of fairy stories ever. I even have the distinction of having lived in the same house as he, albeit separated by 150 years. It was there, at 27 Tackleway, Hastings, that MacDonald wrote Phantastes (the book which, in part, converted C.S. Lewes to Christianity – MacDonald was hugely admired by J.R.R. Tolkien too). The hero of Phantastes, who is on a long journey through a forrest, is told to trust to the beach and the ash trees, but to beware of the alder; and indeed, all goes well with him while he follows this advice. On many occasions during my journey I have felt the benevolence of beach trees, but never more so than on this day, which, apart from a brief tea-and-cake stop at Painswick, was the setting for my travels until evening. The pictures tell the story.
The owner of the newly-opened Pooch Cafe in Painswick asked me to give her establishment a mention; and why not – she was very kind and gave me the largest delicious slice of cake I have so far had on my walk!
I loved Uley the moment I arrived. It’s that word ‘unpreposessing’ again – a village not conscious of its own loveliness. It’s not dominated by tourists, nor by the newly-arrived who live in the town physically, but don’t wish to share in its life as it is. The Old Crown not only sold me some fabulous beer but shared in the story of my adventure with enthusiasm. Fed up of skulking in dark woodland for the night, I asked where I might pitch my tent. Gaz, a customer offered his mother’s field, but the young barman and -maid won me over with the suggestion of the Millennium Field, just behind the pub, and acquired for the village for all its residents’ use. I took up that suggestion.
The Old Crown is friendliest pub in England so far, and joint equal overall with the Douglas Arms at Bothwell near Glasgow (Day 31).