Today is my last full day in the Cotswolds. I had two alternative plans. One was to head north to Tewksebury. The other was to head south to Stroud and Painswick. As I was checking train times this morning I discovered that there had been an accident on the line to Worcester that I would need for Tewksebury and the line was out. Decision made.
Of course, the problems with the train line were a little more concerning because that's the line my train will use tomorrow. I started to make alternative plans just in case I had to get to York via a different route.
Once organised, I headed to the train station to take the train to Stroud. There was a degree of chaos there regarding the line problems but the staff were doing a great job and appeared to be managing the situation as best they could. My train was only partly affected as extra people needed to travel south in order to catch a different line north.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect at Stroud. What I found was a bit of a mishmash. Some very old buildings some newer. But what I saw didn't have the charm of the other towns I've seen.
What was different, and most impressive about the town were the views of the countryside from within the town.
There was a busy market in an area of the town called The Shambles, mainly farmers market but there were some craft stalls dotted around. I wandered a bit.
One stall had some amazing mounted photographs of the Cotswolds. I was tempted to buy one but decided to get it on the way back through Stroud at the end of the day (unfortunately plans changed and that didn't happen). I did, however, buy a delicious chocolate and lemon cheesecake brownie from a brownie stall. And the waistline expansion continues.
I didn't stay in Stroud long though. Instead I took the 61 bus to get to Painswick. Painswick had a completely different feel. The buildings were reminiscent of the other villages I've visited, but with similarly spectacular views to Stroud. Like yesterday, utterly breathtaking at times.
One shop had this cute tiny window display.
St Mary's church is in the centre of the town. A cemetery with numerous topiary trees surrounds it. I saw a photograph of the village in a window that I think would have been taken from the base of the spire. There was a mist over the buildings and it just looked magical.
I wandered around so much that I missed the bus I had intended to catch back to Stroud. So instead I popped in to the Falcon Inn for delicious beef and ale pie followed by salted caramel chocolate tart with salted caramel ice cream. More expanding waistline.
Lunch didn't seem that much but I found it hard to move afterwards. Instead of returning to Stroud I decided the easiest option would be to continue with the 61 bus on to Cheltenham. As the bus reached the edge of the town an incredible vista of the surrounding hills opened up. If only I had walked a little bit further!
By the time I got back to the hotel I felt I needed to walk off lunch a bit more so I wandered around the area by the hotel a bit. By this time it was about 4:30. So many trees are in blossom. There is one kind in particular I have noticed. It has cones of blossom pointing upward. This picture doesn't show the shape all that well, but it was the only tree I could find with the right light for a photograph.
So, the last three days have exceeded my expectations of what I would find in the Cotswolds and I understand why they are designated as an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
Also, it looks like the train line to the north has been cleared, so I'm hopeful that tomorrow's journey will be able to proceed as originally planned. I'll check again in the morning to be safe.