May Day brought with it some much needed sunshine - an auspicious start for the projected Blipmeet with Clean Steve and, later, Woodpeckers, both of whom I had met in person for the first time at Westonbirt the previous autumn. Clean Steve greeted me with coffee and selections from his iPod as we fine-tuned the day's itinerary, which took the form of a look at the topography of the Golden Valley, in which nestles a railway line, a river and a sadly defunct canal, though many dedicated people are working hard to bring it back to life bit by bit.
We began in Stroud itself and this blip shows a section of the Thames and Severn Canal at Wallbridge Lock that has been restored and was being enjoyed by customers at the Lockkeeper's Café Bar opposite. Soon we were whisking along Minchinhampton Common and stopped to see the Long Stone at Hampton Fields, a 'holey' stone that was probably a portal dolmen, the closing slab of a burial chamber, some 4,500 years ago. It was adorned with lichen and gossamer and I took several pictures of it. It is thought that couples may have joined hands through the holes in the oolitic limestone in betrothal to each other. The standing stone reminded me of those closer to home at Avebury. As we were leaving, Steve spotted Princess Anne turning in to the driveway to her home at Gatcombe.
Our tour took us to the top of the valley near Edgeworth and back via the Daneway inn. Built in 1784, it was originally three cottages, built to house the navvies who constructed the Thames and Severn Canal. Its summit lock was close by, very near to the top of the famous 2.2 mile Sapperton Tunnel, and with the River Frome flowing out of sight just below. The canal itself now lies buried underneath the car park.
We spent about half an hour there over glasses of ale in the pub garden before continuing to Frampton Mansell. There's an impressive viaduct there and another stretch of the canal where the towpath is walkable and we explored on foot awhile. Our final stop was on the outskirts of Chalford, at Belvedere Mill in Old Neighbouring. This was the last stop before we returned for lunch with Woodpeckers, now back from work, and a lazy afternoon sunbathing in the golden light with Bomble the cat, in the garden with its stunning views.
The afternoon concluded with Clean Steve giving me some valuable advice on iMacs and iPads as I prepare to take the plunge into the world of the Macintosh. It was a splendid drive home, too, on some roads that were new to me until that day, as I set my sat-nav to take me the shortest, rather than fastest route.
It was the first chance I'd had to properly try out the replacement GPS unit for my Pentax, and happily it gave accurate co-ordinates for all the stops in remote locations making the difficult task of working out retrospectively exactly where we had been and naming them considerably easier, though not infallible. A full set of pictures is up on Flickr now, linked to below.
All being well, I should be back in Stroud in a week's time to pay my debt to society, but more about that later.
Consecutive Blip #013
The Long Stone
The Thames and Severn near Bakers Mill, Frampton Mansell
The Thames and Severn, Old Neighbouring
A Day In The Golden Valley, 1 May 2013 (Flickr set)
Lens: Pentax 17-70mm
The Daneway Inn (website)
Lozarhythm Of The Day:
David Ackles - La Route A Chicago (1968)
I was reminded of this song that afternoon in conversation. This is the French language version of the song that he wrote called The Road To Cairo, probably best known in its version by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity. The Cairo in question is in Illinois, not Egypt, so the transposition to Chicago is perhaps less surprising.
One year ago: Sycamore Maple Leaves