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Day 7 - Leonard Stanley to North Nibley (Dursley)

7 miles/ 11.5 km Distances are approximate.

sunny 14 °C
View Cotswold Way, England on Laura Walking's travel map.

After walking along the Stroudwater Canal yesterday afternoon, despite it being a flat and very pleasant walk, (giving my newly injured knee a bit of a break), when I ventured into King’s Stanley and then Leonard Stanley, I was certainly ready to get off my feet. However, as I tend to do… I wandered around the town (Leonard Stanley) looking for the pub I was staying at. I got turned around and finally asked a gentleman who was walking his dog for directions. These are small towns, but have roads that seem circular and I often feel I am just missing my destination by a street or two. Sure enough, he directed me right to it and when I rounded the corner (I was very close!) and saw the sign I was relieved.

One thing I’ve learned about these pubs. You know in “olden times” (whenever that might have been!) women were not allowed in pubs. These Public Houses were for men to go and socialize with their men friends about the political and social issues of the day. Women weren’t savvy enough to know about these issues (the men thought), and their opinions and ideas, if they had any, were likely dismissed as not important. Besides, a woman’s place was in the home, right?! One of the fellows, Tony from that wet and soggy walking day with my three amigos, teased me about “staying in a pub”. “ Oh my,” he said, “I didn’t think you were that kind of woman!” Ha ha! Perhaps some of them - maybe many of them - were more like brothels way, way back in the day! I don’t know!

That’s not the thing I learned! All I wanted to say, is that you can’t really judge these places by the outside - by how they look! I booked most of these places through Booking.com in Canada, and for the most part have had very good experiences. Some of the pictures on the Booking site are not great, either the inside or the outside of the place. On this trip, although always greeted warmly by proprietors or staff, I have wondered about a couple of places, and what I was going to see when I walked through the door! I must say that I have been very pleasantly surprised!

In the little out-of-the-way place I stayed in last night, Leonard Stanley, which honestly didn’t look like much from the outside - just an ordinary pub, I had a huge, brand new modern room. It had a beautifully tiled bathroom with a rain shower head and lots of hot water! There was at least five or six feet on each side of the King-sized bed. (And lots of pillows!) They also had good WiFi, so I caught up some more!

Anyway, although my room was over the pub area, so there was some noise… it was a dull, muffled, background sort of noise, and it stopped at 10:30 pm I think. I was so engrossed in writing that I didn’t notice the time. They had been watching either a soccer or a cricket match, because it would be quite quiet and then a great cheer would go up - sometimes making me jump! (I know I mentioned this already…)

I slept pretty well, and carted my big backpack downstairs at the designated time in the morning. I was the only guest staying there, and breakfast was included, so I had a great start to the day. At about 10:15 am I was on the road. As I was putting on my muddy boots to leave, the young woman who had made and served me breakfast, asked me where I was headed today. I told her, and she said that there was a short cut down Gipsy Lane just across the road a bit. I had seen that lane when I Googled the map while I was waiting for breakfast. Because Leonard Stanley is not actually on Cotswold Way - if I back-tracked from here, she said, that would just be wasting time (and energy). This short cut would save me at least a couple of miles and would eventually get me right back on the path. She did say, however, that it was “a little steep”! Now when a British person says that… you know it must be true! Yikes!

It was sunny and about 14*C this morning, although I wasn’t sure it would remain that way… as they are calling for rain all week. So I put on all my rain gear just in case. I headed out and followed her directions to the path. It was easy to find. I followed it up… and up… dodged a tractor on a narrow lane… and more up. She was not kidding! I took off a layer and headed up some more. I had to stop every few metres to catch my breath. Besides that… it was a beautiful and really pleasant walk through woods, up hills, down narrow paths on the sides of hills. It was just as she had said, and eventually, actually sooner than I thought I would, I rejoined the Cotswold Way path. Some of the terrain was very exposed and extremely windy, way up on Coaley Peak and then later Cam Long Down, and you had to hang on tight to your things! Thank goodness for hats with straps!

It remained a sunny pleasant day of extreme up and down hill walking, with good signage all the way. I chatted with several people along the way, mostly to discuss the direction(s). People are very friendly here.
I got to Dursley around 2:15 pm, although knew that my accommodations were in North Nibley tonight. I went into a grocery store, bought a few things, and feeling cold, didn’t feel like walking another 2 or 3 miles, over another enormous “hill” to the next town. In the grocery store, I had asked a fellow about the buses around the area. He pointed out the nearest bus stop, and also the bus station around the corner. The schedule at the bus stop did not have that bus going to Nibley. I went over to the “bus station” which consisted of a plexiglass bus shelter with a schedule on a board inside. This week is actually a school break for kids. Their half-term break. Some buses are not running because of that. Also they seem to have one-day strikes periodically. Basically the buses in this area are unreliable at best, I was told, or just non-existent altogether.

A bus did pull into the “station” at one point, not the one I wanted… but the fellow wasn’t leaving for an hour he said. We struck up a conversation and apparently he had been in the British Air Force. He was a navigator on military airplanes. He had been to Canada, to Cold Lake in fact, just a few months ago, taking part in a military exercise they have there every year called Maple Flag. Anyway it was very interesting talking to him for that hour… and no other bus came into the station. He looked it up on his phone and told me the time the so-called bus I needed (#60) would be leaving. At 3:50, which was in about two minutes. A few people boarded his bus, and it was time for him to leave. We waved goodbye and that was that. I stood and waited for several more minutes but no bus appeared. I was thinking about calling a taxi. Then a woman walked by and asked if I had a nice walk today… obviously I looked like a walker with my poles and small pack and so on. She asked me if I was waiting for a bus, and when I said I was, she said they are so unreliable, it’s not likely to come. When she asked me where I was going, I told her and she said, “Oh, I’m going right by there, do you want a ride?” I said, “Yes, that would be fantastic!” Her car was parked almost right beside the bus station in a parking lot. So off we went. Her name is Sophie. She said during the 20 minute drive that she wasn’t even supposed to be in Dursley today. Her husband asked her to go on an errand for him, and so she was doing that. She and her husband had been to New York a few years ago and went into Canada to see Niagara Falls from the Canadian side! She thought they were magnificent. We had a lovely conversation. Very nice and thoughtful woman. She drove me right to the pub door - it was almost 4:30 pm. As we were saying goodbye, she motioned to an enormous hill and forest and trees, and said that the bus station (where I had been waiting) was basically right on the other side of that hill! I believe that is the third time now - not counting the luggage carrier - that friendly people have driven me to where I needed to go.

This pub is also nothing special from the outside… but my room is warm and inviting. Beautifully and tastefully decorated. Lots of room, and a lovely bathroom. I don’t believe breakfast is included here. Maddie, the woman who checked me in, said that they don’t have many staff at the moment, including a chef, so there are no meals being served here. Good thing I went to the grocery store!

I don’t know what tomorrow’s route has in store. I will look at it now. It is 11:30 pm here, and there are still people in the pub below my room, but it’s a dull muffled sound. Earlier there was a woman who laughed like a hyena. Every two seconds! It was very noisy for a couple of hours, so I have no idea if what I’ve been writing over several dates here is even coherent! But at least I’m all caught up now I think.

Posted by Laura Walking 23:11 Archived in England

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