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