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This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Saturday, 10 June 2017

Midsummer Madness – a Moreton-in-Marsh Marathon

SWC 288:  The Grand Moreton-in-Marsh Circular via the Escarpment T=SWC.288

Distance:  26.5 miles or 42.6 km for those more metrically minded – with options to shorten – see suggestions below and walk instructions for ideas. The GPX/KML route is now available on the walk's page.

Difficulty: 10 out of 10 (8 out of 10 for the Shorter Circular Walk and taxi-assist options)

Train:  Take the 8:18 AM Great Western Hereford train from London Paddington, arriving at Moreton-in-Marsh at 10:01 AM.  Return trains from Moreton-in-Marsh are at 19:44; 20:43 and 21:52. Buy a day return to Moreton-in-Marsh (covered in the Network Southeast).   

I imagine many people are tired of hearing about this ambitious new walk – well the time has come to give it its debut and give the instructions a final check!  The full main walk is a long and demanding journey – but well worth the effort – as you cover vast and interesting territory in an area little explored by other SWC walks.  The route begins gently crossing fields to Longborough where the tempo increases with the first gentle climbs and descents to reveal stunning views far and wide.  After lunch, our adventure takes us out to the Cotswold escarpment with even more grand views and passes through three classically bucolic Cotswold villages – Stanway (with Stanway Manor), Stanton   and Snowshill.  In addition to the great views and charming villages, the walk also captures some of the “working” side of the Cotswold by passing through a race horse training facility and by a Cotswold stone mine and lavender fields. There is a slightly shorter alternate ending in Broadway via Broadway Tower, but this will require arranging a taxi to meet you in Broadway to return to Moreton-in-Marsh.  More information and the walk instructions can be found here. 

Timing to complete the full circuit (between 10:01 AM and 21:30) will be tight – so it is important to keep an eye on the time.  As a rough guide – you should plan to be leaving the following places at the following times (or consider calling a taxi to meet you in Blockley in the evening):  Ford – 14:45; Stanton – 17:00; Snowshill – 18:20; Blockley – 20:20.

A great option for a shorter more relaxed outing, would be to take a taxi to Longborough (10 pounds -- ask to be dropped at the pub and pick-up the instructions at point 13.a or ask to be dropped at the top of the hill past the pub and pick up at the “small triangular green” reference in the same instruction point) and arrange for a taxi to meet you in Blockley at the Great Western Arms at 20:00 or 20:30 (also 10 pounds).  This would give a total walk of 19 miles/30.57 km and includes all of the highlights of the walk.  The walk instructions include some other taxi-assist options, as well as, numbers for various taxis services in the area.  If planning to use a taxi for any part of the trip – book ahead.  For something even more relaxed, the Shorter Circular Walk via Longborough is 12.5 miles/20.11 km and is also very nice (essentially the former SWC 115 via Longborough) – but does miss the excitement of the escarpment.  You should take a later train for this option (9:19 or 10:18 am).

The recommended lunch pub is the Plough Inn (01488 668 326) in Ford (10 miles/16.09 km into the walk), a 16th century inn serving traditional home-cooked food.  I have made a booking for 13:30. For anyone starting from Longborough, they should call ahead and advise of numbers for a 12:30 arrival time.  For those doing the Shorter Circular Walk, you should plan to eat at the Coach and Horses in Longborough.  Please note that there is an opera at Longborough this afternoon – so the pub may be busy – best to call ahead.

If arriving in Snowshill before 17:00 with enough energy for a 500-meter (there and back) diversion, tea can be had at the tea room at Snowshill Manor (entrance to the tea room requires either NT membership or the purchase of a garden ticket).  If arriving at Snowshill at 18:00 – you could make a brief stop at the Snowshill Arms before continuing on your way.  Do keep an eye on the clock as you will need to leave Snowshill by 18:20ish to return to Moreton-in-Marsh for the last train – unless you have arranged a taxi at Blockely or elsewhere!

Moreton-in-Marsh also has loads of post walk  refreshment options, including a good Indian (Hassan Balti) that does take-out for the train.

Enjoy the walk!


Walker said...

I am definitely interested in a shorter option using a taxi. The simplest of these seems to be Moreton to Snowshill (17.5 miles), booking a taxi from there at 7pm (eg) to give time for tea, though I could be persuaded to Longborough to Blockley (19 miles: the walk creator says this includes the best of the route) if someone is keen (this needs a taxi at both ends, but a fairly short one in each case).

If interested, please post a comment below.

PeteG said...

IF doing the shorter option, does it make sense to get a later train, and then make a judgement during the afternoon about where to get a taxi back from, planning to get the last train back?

Stargazer said...

The suggestion of taking the 9:19 train and having a taxi bring you to Longborough is a good one -- as Longborogh is 6km/3.5 miles into the walk -- so you should arrive there at a similar time as those walking from the earlier train. However, I would not wait too late to book a taxi from Blockley (around 20:30) if you think that you may want to stop there.

Stargazer said...

Courtesy of Thomas G -- there is now a GPX file available for the route. Thanks, Thomas.

branchline said...

Is anyone planning to do the full 26 mile version of this walk?

Stargazer said...

Yes -- I will be...

Walker said...

I know of at least two others who say they will do the full walk.

For my part, I have booked a taxi at 7pm from Snowshill, 17.5 miles into the walk. Anyone is welcome to join me - subject to space, of course. If you want to make a firm commitment to secure your place, post a comment.

I intend to take the specified train in the morning, however, and start with the main group. As far as I can see this gives a 10 mile morning (with an earlier start than usual for SWC walks, so we should get to lunch in time) and then a 7.5 mile walk after lunch, hopefully arriving at 6pm in time for the pub opening.

David M said...

I intend to get the 9.17 train and take a taxi to
Longborough. Is anyone else planning to do the

PeteB said...

Before we get the report from the LDWs here is the "wimps" report of their day. I set off on the 9.20 train with the aim of doing the short circular walk via Longborough but using the gpx route for SWC 115. There was only 1 other SWC regular at MinM station clutching what I first thought was an early draft of her unpublished novel but in fact turned out to be the entire 20+ pages of the walk notes and directions. She was happy to accompany me so we set off reaching Longborough just before noon and stopping for a drink at the pub. Sadly we were too early for the village fete so we continued on along trails and rarely walked narrow paths through lovely woodland and open undulating countryside with terrific views sidestepping some difficult cattle churn/mud in a couple of fields. We ate our sandwiches on a wooded hilltop but with the weather strating to freshen and some threatening clouds we soon continued on to Blockley. here we were in time to have a huge pot oF excellent tea and a mmassive slab of walnut and coffee cake which I am sad to report did not meet SWC quality thresholds: its topping was some beige, glutinous concoction which was not very pleasant. We continued on the last leg up the hill and down into MinM in glorious late afternoon light and across fields filled with buttercups and other wild flowers. A leisurley drink in the 3 Bells (an eminently quaffable Malbec) and the journey back on the 18.44. A brilliant Cotswolds day out.)

This walk goes through some lovely remote countryside but suffers from a slight shortcoming in that the pub comes too early in the walk and the early closure of the tea stop. Its only been posted once I think but its worth another summer outing.

Finally I only briefly looked at the pdf walk file but as someone who knows how much time and effort it takes to research, write and walk check a simple 12m walk this effort by Stargazer is truly a Labour of Love. Epic stuff which pushes even further the boundaries of SWC adventures.

Walker said...

I am not a LDW either, but was with the main group on the 8.18 train. I counted 12 but others said 11. We set off at an extraordinary pace - even an experienced LDW later confided to me that she found it shockingly fast. I soon got separated from the pack, as did a few others. In fact maybe there was no pack and everyone went at their own speed: I don't know.

The terrain on this "boring bit" (the author's own words) was pleasing enough. The weather was w=cloudy-and-windy but experienced LDW-ers said this was better than blazing heat. Towards lunch, 10 miles in, there was a short cut which I took, adding a further shortcut of my own, so I actually got to lunch first. On the way I encountered two more SWC walkers who had taken the 7.17 - yes, 7.17 - from Paddington and who had already lunched. These two plus the 11 on the specified train plus the two who did the short walk (see separate report) makes n=15 total on the walk by my count.

The section after lunch was the scenic highlight - the gobsmacking Cotswold escarpment with a magnificent view towards Wales. We had some sun here too and the walk descended to the very pretty stone villages of Stanton and ....err....the other one, so life seemed very nice. A visitor to our group saved us from serious injury by expertly wrangling several enormous horses out of the way (you put your hand on their noses and push backwards gently, it seems, but don't try this at home, kids.)

If I had any gripe in such lovely scenery it was that it would have been nice to stop and look at it. Or sit down for a rest. In Stanton, 15 miles in, I did the latter and that was my big mistake. When I stood up again most of my leg muscles had gone AWOL and I also realised my water had run out. I had to do a huge and steep escarpment climb in sticky heat and then descend the other side and cross a valley to Snowshill. How I did this 2.5 miles, Lord knows.

I arrived as the pub was opening, however, and with another walker who had decided to stop there indulged in an orgy of sugary drinks and calorific foods. It was by now raining and we took our pre-booked taxi into Moreton (£18 if anyone is curious). The other walker and one of the 7.17 starters took the 7.43 train. I went to the surprisingly empty Indian restaurant (it has always been packed before) and had a vast veggie curry. All the other 26 milers arrived just in time for the 8.43, having had no tea stop whatsoever, and having hurriedly shopped for food for the train. We then all had a convivial and cheerful ride home.

Another time I would take a taxi to the lunch pub, 10 miles in, and do the rest of the walk. There is lunch in Stanton, tea in Blockley and this is the best of the scenery. If a group booked a people-mover taxi the shared cost might not be expensive. But if you are one of the superhumans* who can do these distances, it is a great day out

* Talking of superhumans, on the Cotswold Way were runners doing a 53 mile race along it: someone is always tougher than you!!!

Anonymous said...

I am exhausted just reading the report! Glad you all enjoyed the midsummer madness.