Stratford to Bath

On The Road Travel Essays

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Stratford to Bath

(COURIER: These notes assume that you take a 439 to A 435, follow A 435 to Cheltenham, and then A 46 down to Bath).

Evesham  The town lies in the Vale of Evesham, a fertile valley famous for fruit growing and commercial farming. It's a typical English rural town, and like many of them, has remains of a Benedictine abbey: the bell tower and gateway . Within the abbey precincts are All Saints' and St. Lawrence's Church, both actually built by the Benedictine monks.

We cross the River Avon in the town.

The Cotswolds  These are famous hills through which we're passing, known as the Cotswolds. "Wold" is an old English word for a broad, gently sloping hillside. The Cotswolds are famous for their greenery — all shades of green, from the lightest to the darkest. Sometimes a light mist hangs over them. Long rows of trees and shrubs divide the landscape into neat squares. Most famous of all are the rural villages of the Cotswolds, some of the loveliest in England. Most of the buildings and roofs are made of a local stone, honey colored and creamy in texture. This is wool country, where herds of sheep used to graze for centuries to supply England's wool markets, with all sorts of festivities annually to mark the trade fairs held in them. (Too bad we don't have time for a side-excursion!)

Cheltenham  One of England's most beautiful towns, known for its elegant Georgian houses, tree-lined streets, and gardens. (The most beautiful streets are just off High Street, alas, the main street that our route takes us down). Until the 18th century, Cheltenham was just another Cotswold village. But in 1715, a mineral spring was discovered, and by 1740 the first resort spa had been built. In the 19th century, it became a popular place for retired colonial officials, many of whom had lived in hot, tropical countries, which affected their livers and digestion adversely.. These hot springs were felt to alleviate both disorders.

Painswick  Yet another idyllic Cotswold village, situated in a picturesque valley. Painswick contains many old buildings whose origins are lost in antiquity.

Stroud  Situated also in the Cotswolds. Because of its access to the wool produced in the Cotswolds, Stroud became a center for broadcloth manufacture.

Woodchester  (Located between Stroud and Nallsworth — probably not shown on the map, so watch for the road signs). This is the site of one of the largest Roman villas in England, now a National Trust (26 acres). The villa dates from 117 A.D., first excavated in 1796.

(COURIER: After crossing the M 4 motorway, begin your Introduction to Bath).


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