Last week I took a circular walk from the pretty village of Broadway, famous for the Father Brown series, over across the fields to Batsford. Batsford is a tiny village, forming part of Batsford Park, a huge country estate just outside of Moreton in Marsh. Batsford Park is famous for having once been the home of the Mitford sisters ('It' girls from the 1920s).
Starting out from Broadway was tough work. I was immediately hit with steep climbs and deep muddy field tracks. I was grateful for my goretex walking boots. I started removing layers within the first 10 minutes. But once you've climbed the ascent, there are fantastic views of Broadway to behold. That's worth a pause to catch my breath and take a sip of tea from my travel mug, I can tell you.
Once at the top of the ridge, the land levelled off and I could walk along a country pathway passing sheep and cows in their fields, grazing peacefully. The walk lead me across several cultivated fields, through woods and open meadows, before dropping down onto a quiet old lane, lined with Cotswold stone walls.
This was gorgeous. Ancient beech trees ran alongside the walls and birdsong filled the silence. No cars, trains or any traffic. I descended into the hamlet of Batsford, and was immediately struck by the lovely limestone colour of the cottages. I took a quick look into the little church, admired its ornate stone carvings, and then headed off to find the neighbouring Batsford Arboretum to refill my travel cup with hot chocolate.
The Arboretum is well worth a visit. It doesn't take very long to walk around. It probably depends on time of year and what is flowering, but 1- 1.5hours should do it. They have an excellent cafe there which tried to lure me in with their sweet goodies, but I resisted, and returned to my walk.
I headed up into the woods past the Arboretum and back up another hill. The other side of the ridge. Hot work. But again, at the top, I could see some gorgeous views across the Cotswolds, which made it all worth while. This route drops back slowly down in to Broadway, past the church.
The church is well worth a visit (stiff door handle, don't be put off and think it's locked. Give it a good push). Broadway has a great little village cafe (oops - I succumbed to a jammy doughnut this time!) and neighbouring village shop. Both of them are well served by the locals and visitors. I probably wouldn't try coming here midday on a weekend as it must get really busy, but certainly during the week it's absolutely fine.
There are plenty of places to park around Broadway, but again I expect it's busier on a weekend, so plan to start out early.
If you are not daunted by the prospect of steep climbs, I can happily send you off on this walk with maps and routes for this walk, unless you would like me to accompany you. It took about 3 hours, plus a bit extra for the Arboretum. Definitely wear layers so you can de-robe or re-robe as necessary. Bring water and wear good walking shoes or boots. You need to have a healthy heart and have a good level of fitness too.