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Stanway to Bourton - 1



The Cotswold escarpment going uphill from Stanway House, due east of Tewkesbury, is on the B4077 to Stow, my favourite road in the UK.  Leave it where it bends sharply at SP 068321 just past Stanway1 and take the old route straight ahead (#1) - up the hill and into the trees. 

When it divides after 200yds or so, keep right.  Now you are on the straight track, called Ash Lane, Dirty Bridge Road or Hill Stanway, depending on the map you use.  It was a hugely busy route: it entered England the other side of Hereford, so all the traffic from South & Mid-Wales on its way to London or Southampton would have taken it2.  The holloway says it all, really.

The path becomes tarmac as it emerges from the trees near the remote village of Taddington.  A short detour to see the church, now a barn, is worth the time; then back on to the (now, once again, unmetalled) track where the cyclamen in autumn can be – how can I put this without sounding like an estate agent? – stunning.  Who planted it?  How long has it been there?


“Dirty Bridge” (#3) at SP 092314 is not a bridge and I wouldn't call it dirty either - it's the source of the River Windrush, the loveliest name ever given to a river. In Anglo-Saxon it was known as an aewielm meaning source or well3.  To be respected, then.

In contrast, this part of the Cotswolds is dry; so dry that parallel stone walls about 30 yards apart were needed to provide beasts from different farms a route to water.  These neutral ‘passageways’, known locally as tures (#4)4, come from various directions aiming for Hornsleasow Farm (123323) where there was a dip in the ground and a large dewpond.  The centre of the web, as it were.  The fact that sheep, the main product of the area, can live on dew for most of the year makes one realise how rainless the area was.


Many of the tures are kept standing by the admirable efforts of Lord Wemyss of Stanway House.  He also provides excellent information boards for the interested wanderer.

1 Ann Cole, my mentor from the English Place-Names Society, has written an article "Wega Waggoner's Warning".  The Old English -weg appears now as -way and most of these, such as Stanway, were steep.  Going up was less of a problem than coming down: as Ann says, the Anglo- Saxon braking system would have made the trip a dangerous one.  Drovers wouldn't have minded either way!

2 You can see Roderick Roderick's route from Hereford to Moreton under the "Recognising the Routes" tab, Account Books page.

3 cf Ewelme in Oxfordshire.

4 “Ture” was also the name given to an alleyway in a market town (like Stow) through which stock was funnelled to be sold on market days.  In Deddington there is a “tcher”, in Buckingham a “Tchewar”, but they’re the same thing.


Stanway to Bourton - 1 image 1
Go straight ahead here...
Stanway to Bourton - 1 image 2
..and up through the trees...
Stanway to Bourton - 1 image 3 Dirty Bridge
Stanway to Bourton - 1 image 4
A Ture
Stanway to Bourton - 1 image 5
Hornsleasow Pond