In the sub-zero February air, from beyond the locked and pointed gates, it had more of a … Jane Eyre sort of look. Well, really it had a sort of zombie apocalypse look, but not everyone’s mind goes in that direction …
The promised ‘pleasure’ and ‘family’ walks are down this lane toward the village of Sherbourne — the house is locked December-February.
Free parking (for National Trust members) here at the Ewe Pen Barn. (And during winter months, honor-system parking, as there is no one here.) The barn houses information panels and several laminated walking guides which one can borrow.
But helpful signage pointed the way.
This way, apparently. I was feeling thankful that the icy mud was not quite this icy on the day of my last muddy run. But still so much fun to crackle the puddles with your (well-covered) feet.
Sculpture dots the trail. I was not much for trail walks back in the US, so I’m not aware — are sculpture trails a UK thing? A European thing? A new movement (or old movement) in drawing visitors to engage with public walks? I don’t know. It’s fun to turn a corner and look up to see a metal bat, though.
Ah, those snowdrops. All my photos are terrible. Such a sadness. The snowdrops themselves were lovely. You’ll just have to find some yourself to see what I mean.
This is a family playground. It’s … bare bones, let’s say. Pretty much just logs and sticks. But, I can see this being compelling for my kids for hours. You won’t be able to see it for all the sticks and trees, but there’s a gentle rope swing towards the back as well, and a see-saw just out of frame. I’m trying to imagine this on any kind of American family trail, and wondering if liability concerns would destroy all the natural fun of what is a very organic play area.
Sheep grazing near Sherbourne Brook — which becomes, eventually, part of the river Windrush. (My Favorite River In England.)
Just a random house in the village. This type of stony Cotswold house will stay tied up in my imagination and memory of England. I know in the late spring, summer, and early fall, that stone will glow and be surrounded by nearly unbelievable greenery and flowers. But right now it looks … cold. A bit grim. A little smoke coming from one of the chimneys might promise some coziness inside. As it is … brrrrrr.
The trail leaves the village and wanders back through a woody area. With more metal animals.
And wooden people. This is “The Shepherd”. He looks out over a sheep field, with his working dog at his feet.
It is — once again — remarkable to think about the history of random small villages and woods like Sherbourne. A village has been in this spot since before the time of the Domesday book. Edward I and Elizabeth I both visited Sherbourne, and there is a nearly thousand-year history of connection between the village and the Abbots of Winchcomb (and through them, the Kings of Mercia). There’s no such thing as a undiscovered country here in England. Every stick and stone has been a part of documented history.
After a four kilometer stroll over a muddy trail in freezing weather, what could be better than a quick drive to Burford and a warm pot of tea at Huffkins? And if you’re staying for tea you might as well really stay for tea:
Here’s a nice write-up of the walk we ended up following, from the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/may/12/sherborne-sculpture-trail-gloucestershire