September 14, 2013

Public footpath sign

Public footpath sign

Let’s walk on footpaths! This was the main purpose of my daughter and me going on a trip to the UK this July.

Recently, footpaths in the UK have begun to attract the attention of Japanese who love walking outdoors, and my daughter and I are among them. Some TV programs which featured footpaths running in beautiful country fields in the UK mesmerized us and made us decide on this trip.

Before actually walking on footpaths, I expected there would be a path and we’d just walk on it, but in reality, it was not so easy.

 

 

 

Street in Cheltenham

Street in Cheltenham

Last year, we enjoyed trekking in Switzerland. Walking on high mountain trails was a little tough, but we could find the trail we should take relatively easily. One trail led to another trail.

However, as for a footpath, it often didn’t lead to another one, which caused us to spend a hard but challenging time.

Our first walk started in Cheltenham where we stayed during the first four days and spent a wonderful memorable time.

 

 

 

 

Especially, we’ll never forget the heartwarming hospitality  we enjoyed at Hilden House, the B&B we stayed at. The breakfast served in the comfortable sunny dining room was really wonderful. Guests could choose from five breakfast menus including Full English Breakfast and Vegetarian Breakfast, which gave us sufficient energy for the day.

 

Patio in Hilden House

Patio in Hilden House

English breakfast at Hilden House

Vegetarian Breakfast at Hilden House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first step : Walking on the footpaths in Cheltenham

 Statue of Gustav Holst


Statue of Gustav Holst

“Step by step” is a key to working on a new thing. Then, we thought, “Why don’t we  walk near here as a starter?” (Since it was Sunday, few buses ran from Cheltenham to other towns.) So, we decided to walk on the footpaths in southern Cheltenham.

Cheltenham, the birthplace of Holst, is a beautiful town with nice shops and restaurants in the center and also with a lot of lovely parks where people enjoy themselves comfortably in their own ways. I think it’s a town where everyone would wish they could live there.

We walked through the central area, being enchanted by the beauty of the scenery for about an hour before we were supposed to get to the starting point of the footpath shown on the map (not a detailed one). However, we couldn’t find the starting point.

We asked several people living along the street, but all of them weren’t sure where the footpath was. Then I thought, “British people like walking on footpaths, don’t they? Japanese TV and magazines said so. Was all they said wrong?”

 

Footpath guide

Footpath guide

We had no choice, so we kept walking under the strong summer sun. My daughter regretted she forgot to bring her compass. If we had had it, we could have handled the situation much better.

In fact, we dropped in at a couple of shops to buy a compass, but none of them sold one. At one shop run by an old man, we got a precious maxim from him. It was “If you don’t know the direction, look at the sun. The sun teaches you where the south is, which will tell you other directions.”

Because a compass wasn’t available, we followed his advice and went on walking. Luckily, we met a man who was coming back from where we were heading, and finally we reached the entrance of the footpath.

 

 

Footpath entrance gate

Footpath entrance gate

The entrance of the footpath was well-designed to prevent cattle from going outside the pasture. From there, it was an easy walk, and we walked past several walk-loving people and dogs.

The scene–the wind moved across the barley fields stretching along both sides of the footpath, and shook the barley–was really beautiful and moving, which reminded me of the movie, The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

The Devil’s Chimney, which we saw on the way and is said to have been made by the Devil, was surely something, and the broad panorama of Cheltenham from the top of the hill was a spectacular view.

 

 

Barely field

Barely field

Devil's chimney

Devil’s chimney and Panorama of Cheltenham