After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast at the Lion Inn, we began today’s hike following whats known as the Pilgrim’s Route, which took up Puck Pit Lane, a paved pathway leading past the ruined arches of Hailes Abbey. Founded in 1245 by Richard of Cornwall in fulfillment of a vow he made following his survival from a shipwreck, the Abby was the object of devotion by pilgrims who walked here from Winchcombe because of its custody of phials of the Precious Blood of Christ. Across the road from the Abby is Hailes Church, a small country 12th-century church containing some 13th-centure wall paintings of saints and hunting scenes.
At this point, we elected to take the longer route to our destination, which added two miles to our hike and about 900 feet in elevation; the first part of the trail was built by the Cistercian monks from the Abbey. At the top of what ended up being a steep more rugged path, we arrived at Beckbury Camp, an ancient British hill fort, known also as Cromwell’s Clump (after Thomas Cromwell). From here, we marched across the ridgeline, following an ancient Cotswold drystone wall, over which we could see the vast English countryside to the northwest.
After following the trail down the hill past several farms and homes, we passed by The Stanway House, built with Cotswold stone during the English Civil War (1642-1651) and noted for its mellow peaceful atmosphere. It is now a museum and its furniture, including a Charles I table, has been in the house since it was built. The impressive house, gateway and church are surrounded by a beautiful garden and ancient parkland.