Breakfast at the pretentious Hare and Hounds was served at 7:30. I arrived at 7:29. I was greeted by a matronly "head of-breakfast" in an unmistakably accusatory tone with "you're early"!
Next I had to suffer the "foreign" waiters dressed in black shirts and long black aprons down to the ankles making a big issue out of taking the breakfast order. They could have been undertakers understudies. I find I can't manage all that Full English Breakfast and order scrambled egg and bacon. Mine arrived: one rasher of bacon and a dessert spoon of scrambled egg, artistically displayed I must admit.
Within ten minutes on my route I was circumnavigating the National Arboretum managed by the Forestry Commission, and then right down its centre on a long avenue. There are all kinds of weird trees and if you like them I think you could spend six months looking round. For me they were beautifully presented in the morning sun. A real treat.
Next port was Sherston - attractive architecture and a community run post office and general store (coffee and croissant). I spoke to a number of people gathering round the shop and here is a fine community spirit which was supported by unusually cheery greetings from people passing on my way to the community wood. Here I followed the infant River Avon which flows into the Bristol Channel.
Further on the Macmillan guide warned of a section they found "difficult to describe" and suggested care. Well I ended up in a right old mess. The guide said one thing and a way mark said another. Why can't they get sorted and put up a series of proper way marks? Anyway, it wasn't enough to dampen my renewed spirits, even combined with another similar fiasco later on and an official bridleway going into Sherston which is part of the MW where a huge field of waist high wheat had not had a path cut through - I will be reporting this.
Further pleasant walking took me to Castle Coombe which could be a Hollywood set.
The last mile and a half always seem longer than they should and I arrived in the village hot and bothered. It was after 5:00 pm. I knocked on a door to get directions and combined with a phone call Di from Owl Cottage came and picked me up. I am now in the pub ten minutes walk from the B and B having a decent meal.
In the National Arboretum
Sherston and the post office. A village with real community spirit
Do you think these neighbours are friends?
In Castle Coombe. If you ever ask a passer by to take your photo they chop your feet off - perhaps a good thing in my case.
Crossing the stream just south of Castle Coombe
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