CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today click here

Cotswold Way walk: Laurie Lee midsummer saunter in Slad

PUBLISHED: 10:42 23 May 2017

Slad Valley (c) P J Photography / Shutterstock

Slad Valley (c) P J Photography / Shutterstock

Archant

Walk in the footsteps of Cider with Rosie author, Laurie Lee, as you explore the glorious Slad valley, ending up at his favourite local, The Woolpack

Some writers become so inextricably entwined with a place that it is almost impossible to experience the landscape except through their voice and vision. Such is the blessing Laurie Lee bestowed upon his beloved Slad, a steep-side valley just north of Stroud, and it is a blessing – for his legacy has left a kind of protective talisman about the place, protecting it from the encroachment of housing schemes (something he actively campaigned against in his later years). Laurie Lee, in evoking the genius loci of his particular peculiar Gloucestershire valley, has it sometimes seems posthumously become it.

Born in Stroud on June 26, 1914, Laurence Edward Alan Lee, or ‘Laurie’ as he became known, is best known for his 1959 memoir Cider with Rosie. Selling over 6 million copies, adapted many times on film, stage and television, and, after being enshrined on the national curriculum, known intimately by every schoolchild of a certain age, it is a praise-song to innocence and evanescence – to Laurie’s magical childhood and all that was fading as he came of age. With the royalties Lee purchased Rose Cottage, within staggering distance of his favourite haunt, The Woolpack where he was wont to hold court amongst his cronies, and for the benefit of visitors. One famously asked him where ‘Laurie Lee was buried’.

Passing on in 1997, his wish to be placed between the pub and the church was honoured, ‘so that I can balance the secular and spiritual’, as he put it. Walk a while in the footsteps of this great writer, then raise a glass to him, preferably cider.

The Walk:

1. Park on Main Street, opposite old school, near bus shelter.

2. Just down the bank notice Rose Cottage, where Laurie Lee lived with his wife, Kathy, and daughter, Jessy. Beyond you’ll see Swift’s Hill – a prominent landmark dominating the valley. We are going to do a clockwise circular walk around the valley ending up on its summit before returning to the village. Let’s go!

3. Opposite the bus shelter, note the Old School, where the young Laurie learnt the 3 Rs.

Laurie Lee, by Kevan ManwaringLaurie Lee, by Kevan Manwaring

4. Walk passed the Woolpack Pub (for now). Don’t worry, you’ll finish here, but you have to earn your pint first. Note the poetry post next to the pub – one of several installed by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and part of the Slad Valley Wildlife Way, which we’ll be following part of. Spend a moment reading the poem and ‘see’ the valley through Laurie’s words. ‘The Abandoned Shade’ was an early title for Cider with Rosie.

5. Progress up the lane. As you come to the bend in the road, you’ll behold on your right, down the bank, Rosebank Cottage. This is where Laurie grew up and it features prominently in Cider with Rosie. Imagine a 3 year old Laurie deposited on the bank amid the long grass.

6. Take the turning for Steanbridge Lane. When it turns a sharp left, follow this back up the hill...

7. ...To the War Memorial. A good place to catch your breath and to remember those who gave their lives for their country. In inclement weather there is handy stone bus shelter opposite.

Rosebank Cottage, SladRosebank Cottage, Slad

8. Carefully cross the road and take the steep lane opposite, heading toward the modern white house.

9. Continue up to the footpath sign on the right, take this, and enter Frith Wood, a SSSI site. Information about the flora and fauna can be read on the Wildlife Trust interpretation board.

10. Following the edge of the wall that runs behind the houses, take the path up through the woods. After a little while, take the left fork (Wildlife Way signpost) and head up the hill.

11. On the brow of the hill, there is a convenient memorial bench. Catch your breath here, and reflect that near this clearing there was a ‘hunting lodge’ called Pan’s Lodge where the gentry got up to all kinds of shenanigans!

12. Turning right, follow the path passed the clearing until you reach some wooden seats (logs). This is a good place for a cuppa. Enjoy the view over the valley towards Painswick, whose residents are fondly known as ‘Bow-wows’, so-called because of their fondness for ‘Puppy Dog Pie’, or so the local folklore suggests!

13. Stop to read the next poetry post (‘April Rise’), then head towards the wooden gate. Pass through this, and you’ll come to the road.

14. Cross carefully and you’ve arrived at Bulls Cross – a notorious crossroads haunted by phantom coaches, demonic goats and the victims of the gallows situated here. Note the worn mounting block on the verge.

15. Opposite the sign for Painswick, follow the steep Wysis Way path down to Trillgate Farm.

Frith Wood Nature ReserveFrith Wood Nature Reserve

16. As you descend the steep track, note the fields to your right – home of rare orchids, as this is prehistoric limestone grasslands.

17. At Trillgate Farm note the picturesque dovecote. Go left here over the stile and down the hill, watching your step as it can be slippy here.

18. Cross over the Slad Brook, near the site of the hangman, hence the nickname of ‘Dead Man’s Bottom’. Not a place to hang about on a dark night!

19. Climb up the steep hill opposite until you come to the metal gate.

Frith Wood, SladFrith Wood, Slad

20. Here, turn left and follow the stony track to the bend. Follow it round to the right until you get to the road.

21. At the road, turn right, down the hill.

22. You’ll pass the impressive edifice of Down Farm on the brow of the hill.

23. At the bottom you’ll pass the lovely Steanbridge Mill and its old leat.

Seats in Frith WoodSeats in Frith Wood

24. On your left watch out for the ‘Restricted Byway’ sign. Follow this up the steep muddy lane, a holloway known as King Charles Lane. Apparently the Royalist troops came down here after a battle on Painswick Beacon. It must have been pretty hairy!

25. Cross the crossroads. Keep ascending the holloway. Note the amazing roots. As it reaches the top it bends to the right – follow that, and the next right fork to the road.

26. Follow the winding lane downwards (ignoring the signs for Solomon’s Byre and Fletcher’s Knapp) to the picturesque hamlet of Elcombe.

27. Passed the bend of the hamlet, on your left you’ll see some steps and a sign for Laurie Lee wood – purchased by the author and given to the Wildlife Trust.

Vatch CottageVatch Cottage

28. Follow the path through the woods as it rises. Watch your step.

29. At the far end, turn left up the track.

30. You come out on Swift’s Hill – enjoy the magnificent views towards Stroud, the Severn, Forest of Dean and beyond.

31. Walking in the direction of Stroud, descend the hill (carefully). Note the interpretation board that lets you know about the 14 different orchid species and a rare snail named after Laurie Lee!

Vatch CottageVatch Cottage

32. At the bottom turn left down Knap Lane, over the cattle-grid.

33. Notice the fabulous, mysterious Badger Posts. See how many professions you can spot.

34. Pass by the pretty gables of Knap House.

35. Carry on down to The Vatch.

Laurie Lee Wood Nature ReserveLaurie Lee Wood Nature Reserve

36. Pass Vatch Cottage, take the footpath on the right up the hill to the road.

37. Follow the road back to the village, enjoying the views back towards Swift’s Hill, which you have just conquered.

38. Back in the village you may want to finish the walk by paying your respects to Laurie Lee at the church. His beautifully modest tombstone is to the side of the church. Note the poetry inscription on the side facing away from the path. Inside the cool interior of the church there is a memorial window dedicated to the great author.

39. Now it’s time for that drink – The Woolpack awaits! In the snug bar on the right you will see some Laurie Lee memorabilia. What better place to raise a glass to Laurie?

War memorial, SladWar memorial, Slad

Enjoy Kevan Manwaring’s literary rambles? You might like...

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

On a sunny autumn afternoon we headed to the Forest of Dean to try our hand at finding edible, wildlife ingredients on one of the Tudor Farmhouse Hotel’s foraging courses. Here’s how we got on...

Read more
Monday, October 9, 2017

We never tire of pretty pictures of the Cotswolds. Here are ten of the best shared on Instagram this week…

Read more
Friday, September 29, 2017

Walk in the childhood neck of the woods of Harry Potter author JK Rowling and enjoy forbidden forests, romantic ruins and stunning cliff-top scenery along the Wye Valley

Read more
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Being a region so steeped in history, there are plenty of locations in the Cotswolds with spooky stories from over the years. From bloody executions, eerie apparitions and headless horsemen, we pick 23 of the most haunted locations throughout the Cotswolds to visit if you dare

Read more
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Cotswold Life back in 2007, Candia McKormack, now our deputy editor but back then a designer, came up with this brilliant interpretation of the iconic Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club album cover. We liked it so much we thought we’d use it again on our 50th anniversary

Read more
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Walk in the footsteps of the talented and controversial socialites, the Mitford Sisters, around stunning Asthall and sublime Swinbrook. The perfect pub walk for a summer’s day

Read more
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Crunchy leaves under foot, bracing walks in beautiful countryside, mugs of hot chocolate in cosy tea rooms and charming pubs with roaring fireplaces – what’s not to love about autumn in the Cotswolds?

Read more
Monday, September 4, 2017

For 80 years now, Bourton-on-the-Water has been one of the country’s finest locations in which to catch sight of Gulliver-esque giants. Join us as we get on hands and knees to take a peek into the homes of Cotswolds’ own Lilliput...

Read more
Friday, September 1, 2017

We go behind the scenes of Oxfordshire’s largest sporting event

Read more
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Positioned on the Roman-built Fosse Way, Moreton-in-Marsh is a town steeped in history. Complete with chocolate box houses and meandering streets, it’s the perfect place to explore for a taste of quintessential Cotswold life. We’ve assembled a brief guide to help you to get the most from your visit…

Read more
Thursday, August 3, 2017

Walk in the footsteps of Lewis Carroll and visit the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland amid the historic water meadows of Oxford

Read more
Thursday, July 27, 2017

Imposing manor houses, quiet medieval villages, idyllic swathes of countryside - the Cotswolds offers a lot for location scouts in the film business. We pick 19 famous filming locations in the Cotswolds, as seen on screens big and small

Read more
Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Reeves family, from Dursley, have always loved cycling through the countryside with daughters, Hannah and Charlotte. But as Charlotte, now 19, grew older, her special needs made cycling increasingly difficult. Their solution – Charlotte’s Tandems – is now an innovative UK-wide charity, as Katie Jarvis discovered

Read more
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Thousands of visitors flocked to BBC Countryfile’s first live event last year, and following its monumental success it will return to Blenheim Palace this summer, promising to be bigger and better than ever. We pick ten reasons why Countryfile Live is the perfect day out for the whole family

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
Cotswold Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Cotswold's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search