'Free at last!', Tuesday 19th July 2016 -- Paul's Photo Journal -- Paul Mobbs/MEI

Free at last!

Tuesday 19th July 2016

Bus Sibford Gower, Sibford Friends Meeting House, Ditchedge Lane, Colony Road, Sibford Ferris, Burdrop, Sibford Gower, Sibford Friends Meeting House
7.25km|4½ miles 160m|525ft

main image
To find this location on the map, click here

Photographs in this series: (click to display)


route map When you work long hours (80+/week) for a long period of time reality detaches from a 'normal' linear timeline, as one long day blends into the next. While the news has been full of 'Brexit', the pollution industry, and fracking companies in particular, have been slamming in permit and planning applications all over the place to get their projects pushed through with minimal media examination – which unfortunately means I've been fanatically busy too. Today I have to do a building inspection in Sibford. And, as today I've no deadline to run back to, I'm able to go for a walk for the first time in weeks. Free at last!

Unfortunately my first day of relative ambulatory freedom just happens to coincide with the hottest day of the year34° at Brize Norton, 20-odd miles south of here.

No matter. After finishing my work at Sibford Meeting House, with two hours available til the bus home, I head north out of the village and take a left to cross the valley to Ditchedge Lane – part of an Neolithic ridge-route trackway which runs along the ironstone escarpment.

The view across the valley is familiar, but rarely identical. For example, click this link to see what the view in picture no.1 looks like with an air temperature of -12°C, probably about forty-odd degrees cooler than it is now! (what a brilliant walk that was, in December 2012, back into town).

Crusing downhill was easy. Crossing the brook at the bottom brings me into the green lane – hot, humid, and loudly buzzing with clouds of insects which were hiding, like the cattle massed in the shade of the trees, from the glare of the midday sun.

Soon though I was on the lane which, as I'd hoped, was swathed in a cool breeze, the result of the thermals running up the hillside from the valley below.

There are many possible walks out of Sibford, all guaranteeing some good hill-climbs. Why I came here today was for the view; pretty good at any time of year (in the panorama below, try and spot Broadway Tower).

Panorama over
upper Stour valley from Ditchedge Lane

Use the scroll bar to pan across the panorama.
click here to find this location

I amble down the lane. It's nice – no need to think about where to go, just keep lined-up between the hedgerows. Just before the turn left back into the Sibfords you get the beautiful view of where the track dips 200-odd feet down to Traitor's Ford; rising again on the other side to climb over 400 feet to the local high point of Whichford Hill – 239 metres/783 feet AOD.

I fall down the hill into the humidity of the valley below, cross Colony Road, and then climb out the other side towards Sibford Ferris. I stop at the top of the climb, near more cattle crammed into the diminishing shade of the east-west line of the hedgerow, to take a drink. No hurry. Plenty of time.

I arrive at the bus stop with half an hour to wait for the bus. I wander up to the shop to buy a cold drink and come back again and wait. And wait. And wait some more. And wait a bit more just in case.

Forty minutes after the bus was due I wandered up to the phone box to try and arrange some alternate transport. The dial tone worked but the keypad had no effect. I walk across the valley into Burdrop, and then back into Sibford Gower, tracing the route of the bus just in case it arrived. When I get to the phone box in Sibford Gower the phone worked, and the keypad, except the essential number I need to make a call without cash.

Last chance (other than thumbing a lift back into town along the B4035), I wander down the road to visit a Friend – whose phone worked. Unfortunately the person with the car doesn't know where I am and so I have to walk to the location in the village they do know – Sibford Friends Meeting House, from where I had set out about three hours before. I have to say though I'm not in any way annoyed. Despite the heat, flies and non-materializing buses, it was still a great day out.

broadway tower
PS. If you missed Broadway Tower earlier, it's the minute square block on the horizon immediately to the left of the tree in the centre of the panorama.

Here's a telephoto image take shortly before.