Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Slad, Gloucestershire - The Woolpack pub & two mile circular walk

Slad - The Woolpack - 2 mile circular walk.

Pythius and I joined Uncle John on a trip into Gloucestershire and the idyllic little grey stone village of Slad, which was immortalised by Laurie Lee. It nestles in the folds of the Slad Valley just north of Stroud and about eight miles from Gloucester.
The valley is one of those remarkably beautiful finger valleys that radiate from Stroud. The undulating landscape calls for considerable effort as you climb the hills, but be assured it is well worth it.
You approach Slad from the tree lined B4070 which passes through the village. The Woolpack inn stands right in the centre, close to both the old school building with its adjoining school house and the church.
The Woolpack Inn

The pub is a 16th century treasure which clings to the hillside offering views in abundance and an unspoiled atmosphere. This was Laurie Lees local. Portraits of the writer whose first book Cider With Rose described his childhood at Slad during the lead up to the First World War, cover the walls and his collection of vintage beer bottles decorate the back of the bar. The beer pumps offer a choice of Uley beers, including Old Spot, Pigs Ear and Uley bitter which has plenty of body and a glorious dry hoppy finish. If you are looking for a serious Cotswold ale, you can't do better than sip Uley's superb brews.
And for your dog an impressive stainless steel water bowl, filled to the brim sits outside the main door.

The walk can begin by checking out Rosebank Cottage where Laurie Lee lived as a child. It is just a short walk north of the pub, though unfortunately it is not fully visible from the road.
Walk a little further until you arrive at a right hand turning which will lead you to the pond that features large in Laurie Lee's book as this was the pond in which 'poor Miss Flynn's' naked body was found floating, her hair stretched out white in the water'.

Pythius at the pond

Having viewed the pond with its abundance of ducks, which is can be found by taking the first Waysign on the right, return to the road an having walked a short distance take the second turn which will lead you up a steep, stony track. Trickles of water that descend throughout this section of the walk mean it can be both muddy and slippery, but persist, the view at the top is worth it .
About an eighth of a mile up this path you fill find another path crossing this way, which is easier to manage though do watch out for gnarled tree roots that can cause you to trip.
This path finally bears left and leads to to the first yellow Way sign - it is slightly faded now and points across the first of many fields and meadows you can now explore.
As there are several footpaths in this area, you can, should you wish now walk where you will, remembering to keep the village of Slad on your right hand side.
Your return to the B4070 and the pub is just a matter of taking anyone of the footpaths on the right hand side when you are ready.

Walk on and you will probably notice that one of the meadows has a yellow sheen when viewed from afar. If you walk this meadow you will notice an abundance of wild flowers and grasses. More than 130 plant species can be found here as it is one of the Meadows below Swifts Hill, and the Elliot Nature Reserve. This is one of the country's finest grasslands and an important site for butterflies and wild orchids.ite

Pythius Says: Gosh what a walk - the views, the uphill climbs, the slopes which almost beat Helen and Uncle John - terrific - no dog could ask for more. There was even a big pond on which a multitude of wild ducks swam. When they saw me they all darted to the centre of the pond - but I didn't mind that I played with sticks instead.

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