Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Blockley - Crown Hotel Heart of England & Monarch's Way

There are times when our Paws walks don't always turn out as they should. This is sometimes due to the fact we get lost, but mostly it's due to the fact that the field we wish to enter is full of livestock - sometimes bulls! Occasionally we turn round because the way is waterlogged and far too muddy to pass.
Our walk along the Monarch's and Heart of England Way, which both converge close to the charming little Cotswold village of Blockey, near Morton-in-theMarsh, was finally declared a failure when we found ourselves encountering more and more fields of sheep, sheep droppings in plenty, and a steep uphill climb.

Yes, Pythius is a sheep dog, his parents are of farming stock, but that doesn't mean we can let him off his lead when we walk a field full of sheep. Farmers have the right to shoot the dog if they disturb their livestock - something we could never risk. He will tolerate a lead-walk for a while, but there comes a time when he gets restless - this was one such time.
The village of Blockley has two pubs, we stopped at the first, opened the door of the bar in which dogs were permitted - took one long sniff of the stale air, looked at the shabby decor, the piles of  junk sitting on the pool table and turned heel and left. It was scruffy with a capital S.
After getting back into the car we headed for The Crown Hotel in the centre of the village, a charming 14th century coaching inn that has aged to perfection.
I have a theory which seldom lets me down - the posher the pub - the more welcome Pythius is made. The Crown, which is both stylish, welcoming and beautifully furnished did not let me down.
The Crown Blockley
Pythius was made really welcome at the Crown, and soon settled himself under our table, having chatted for a moment with a charming little Scottie dog under the next table, who was also enjoying the atmosphere of this quiet Cotswold pub.
Our meal took a moment to arrive as it was freshly cooked. (Cod cooked in beer batter, served with the most delicous crunchy chips). It was simply delicious and very reasonably priced too.The bar staff were friendly and did everything that they could to make us comfortable.
After a very satisfying meal we set about looking for the Way marker which combines the Monarch's Way with the Heart of England Way at this point.  It was not easy to find, despite trying to follow the footpath signs shown in my copy of the Ordnace Survey map, which I never fail to take with me on a Paws walk.

Pythius finds the gate
We did find the sign eventually (off the B4479) and began heading across a well worn track that passes through the first field. Pythius spotted the gate to the next field before we did. Unfortunately there were sheep in plenty in that  field, and the next, and we found ourselves on quite a steep uphill walk, covered with sheep droppings. There came a time when Pythius became restless. He was not happy, neither were we.  Suddenly this walk was becoming difficult and much of the joy of walking free to take in the beauty of this glorious area was deminishing. We turned and admire the view of Blockley from the hill and then in unison decided perhaps it was time to go back. This is exactly what we did, having promised Pythius that we would find him another field in another place that he could run free.
The view

Pythius says:
Well I'll say this for the girls, they do go out of their way to try and give me a rewarding walk, but bless them, they often get it wrong. 
If they had taken a good look at the Ordnance Survey Map they would have noticed all those red rings close together which suggests they will have to climb a steep hill. I didn't mind the hill, no Border collie worth his salt would worry about a little climb during a walk.  I do mind being kept on a lead though, that is not something I can cope with for long.
Admit I was really relieved when they decided to turn back and give me a walk somewhere else. That said - the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful, so was the little village of Blockely.
Fish & chips which Pythius is not allowed to share

He Says:   What spoil sports the girls are - their fish and chips smelt sooooooo good and looked deliciious, but I wasn't even allowed a chip!

(Picture by Sue Mynall  who illustrates the Paws series)

Pythius putting on his "hungry for food now" face..

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