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Rambling: Diamonds aren't forever.

Byline: Richard Shurey

Completing a long distance trail is, I am sure, like putting 'The End' at the completion of writing a novel or an artist painting the last strokes of a brush on a canvas.

There was a mixture of joy and sadness when I recently completed the Diamond Way walk -the route has been so beautiful -the glorious English countryside at its best.

The 60 mile Diamond Way was created by the North Cotswold Group of the Ramblers' Association to mark the 60 years of the RA. My last section was the seven miles or so from near Blockley to the little hamlet of Ford.

My only grouse was that -sadly like so many long distance routes -there was the need for many more waymarks to stop ramblers missing their way.

Many of the miles are on the high hills so there are lovely views far over the valleys.

I start this last section of the Diamond Way from the lane a mile west of the junction of the A424 and the A44 (Map 151/141330). Walk westwards along the lane then climb a stile on the left. There is now an early puffing climb up the steep hill.

At the top, pass through a metal gate and keep ahead along a fenced track. Go through another metal gate into a pasture where inquisitive horses will welcome you. Still maintain the heading (right hand wall) to a corner gate towards a farmhouse under restoration.

Turn left just before the farm at a crossroads of bold tracks. (I notice from the map that the Roman's Ryknild Street passed through this very spot). Go though a wooden gate. There is now a fine grassy track and keep ahead at a crossing path.

About 300 yards further is a junction of signed bridleways (blue arrows). Go through a gate right. At once turn left alongside a left hand wall. We have a left hand wood. A hundred yards beyond turn 90 degrees right to continue at the side of tall trees.

Keep ahead -a wide track by a left hand wire fence. At the end the track turns right. Within a few steps we are directed left through a gate. Drop down the steep hill. At the bottom pass through a metal gate. Turn left (left hand fence). This long meadow looks over a deep vale.

At the far end of the meadow -to the right near woods -go through a waymarked hunting gate. Follow the clear narrow path through woodlands. Keep ahead at a crossing track. At a T-junction of tracks turn right to drop downhill. At a lane turn right for 200 yards.

Opposite a lane take a signed path along a farm road just before a cottage. Hinchwick Manor is nearby -this was once the lands belonging to the Saxon Hynca.

The farm road swings left by a wood. Take great care about half a mile beyond when you leave the farm road. Take a rather hidden path which bears off to the left -I could not see a waymark. Go through a gate and ignore a signed path left.

We soon come to a junction of many tracks. Again take care. Keep ahead along a wide stony track. The correct way is to the left of the white rough way which goes uphill.

We reach a plantation on the left and ignore the stile to stay on the main way. We soon have right hand woods and pass a barrier. At the end of the woods climb a stile and walk in a pasture. Climb another stile and climb the hill to veer left by an old barn. At a T-junction of tracks turn left. Within 200 yards leave the tractor way.

Go through a gap and border a left hand wall. Within 400 yards and by a large bush, bear half right over the open field. Over the brow aim towards the left hand end of a pine wood. Here is a waymark post. Walk with our pine wood on your right. At the end go right then right again along a tractor way.

Walk to a farmstead and along the drive to a road. Cross to pass through the gateway of the romantic-sounding Jackdaw's Castle. Walk along the Tarmac way and bear right to a junction. Within 200 yards we are directed right to cross horse gallops to a vehicle way. Turn left to Ford which nestles cosily in the beautiful valley of the infant River Windrush.

Here is also that inn which for centuries has bidden the traveller to 'step in and quaff my nut-brown ale . . . which 'twill make your laging trotters dance as nimble as the suns of France'.

The invitation was too good to ignore before following the lanes as indicated on the map to return to the starting place.

Fact FileMap: 1:50,000 OS Landranger Series Nos 150 & 101. Approach: A44 and lanes. Parking: Quiet roadsides. Refreshments: Inn Ford. Guide: Diamond Way Booklet. Cotswold AONB Partnership: 01451 862000.

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The hills of the Diamond Way give you a stunning view of Blockley
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 30, 2003
Words:853
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