When the wind blows harsh and mean, Murphy and I head to our hidden valley. It’s not really hidden, it’s just off the Bibury to Cranham road, and it’s definitively not ours, but we rarely meet people there so it does feel it’s there for us and us alone. Also there is no phone signal whatsoever which contributes to feeling of peace and ‘away from it all’, which we all sometimes crave and need.
The Ebworth Estate is a National Trust property, their local office are here too, in some very nice old buildings. There ‘s a car park with a map of the area and the paths are marked by posts and blue arrows (and there are toilets too). No coffee shops etc., which explains why it’s so quiet in my opinion.
The long drive to the car park is flanked by pines and I love it, it feels a little incongruous, such a road in the middle of the Cotswolds, it feels almost Mediterranean. Don’t you think? To me it should lead to a farmhouse in Tuscany or a hidden cove with a secret beach.
Park up and keep the dog on the lead if you have one, there are often cows about, or easily reached. Murphy knows the drill and keeps close now. Once passed the offices it’s fine. I have spotted small deers (or something) in the distance, but he’s a good boy and doesn’t like to wonder off too far from me.
On a winter’s day like today it’s barren and empty. But in the spring the ground is blanketed with wild garlic and bluebells and it’s magical. In the Autumn the beech tree (you walk through and ancient beech plantation) paint everything orange. And if it rains the trees offer some great cover, and one hardly gets wet at all.
It’s a lovely quiet, meditative place. No cars, no road noises.
I had headphones with me but they remained unused in my pocket. It was very restorative to simply listen to my steps and my thoughts and the wind, still strong on the top of the trees but non-existent where we were.
It was muddy. I had forgotten how squelchy the path along the bottom of the valley becomes in winter.
Murphy loves the ponds and always rushes ahead and wait for me to throw sticks in the water he then never, ever brings back. He dives after them, he swims to them… then he chews them on the way back to the edge. And that’s how we roll.
Usually the swim signals the end of the walk and we head back up the valley to the car, especially now that it’s cold to be wet… but there are many paths in all directions. You can find a pub or two if you try hard enough.
Just don’t tell too many people about it.