Into the Secret Valley

One of the joys of going away is the pleasure of returning home. The main road that cuts across our bit of the Cotswolds follows the ridge of the hill, which gives the appearance of being plateau like. There are few hints that just a little way off to the side is the secret valley and the little lane leading to it gives few hints either.

To call it an avenue would be rather pretentious, but the roadside plantings of beech and cherry create the first thought that you may be going somewhere rather special. And as you begin to pass beneath their canopy, the hills start to rise on either side. These are rarely, if ever, treated with any chemicals and wild flowers, including orchids, abound.

But there is still no hint of our little, winding river. Then, as the avenue ends and on a sharp bend there it is! The first glimpse is of the old sheepwash, where the river was widened and deepened although still almost jumpable, for everything about the secret valley is miniature: the hills, the river, the road. Beyond the sheepwash come the meanders – the photo of these snake like bends are in the blog’s header title.

Our little stone cottage lies further along the road – and this is now the original old drove road, for the one that we have travelled so far has probably only been in place since about the late 1700’s. More of the drover’s in another post. Below is the view from the house looking back towards the meanders – we may only have just one other house nearby but there are dozens of sheep for neighbours!
Just below the cottage, the river passes beneath the lane and snakes its way around us, travelling through lush meadows. Watercress and meadowsweet grow along the water’s edge and little rickety, make-do bridges made from old telegraph poles criss-cross from one bank to another. Ancient, gnarled willow trees line the banks, more about these can be found in an earlier post: Willows
And tucked away beyond the bridges are the remains of the old mill workings. The culvert is barely noticeable until the river levels rise and the water diverts towards the mill. We’ll travel there another day.

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14 thoughts on “Into the Secret Valley

  1. I would love to be there. It looks serene, peaceful. I remember riding a bicycle-built-for-two down a road like that when we lived in England. I rode with my friend, an English girl, to deliver newspapers. It was great fun.

  2. Such a lovely place! I always enjoy stopping by for a visit. Back in the tree, when I was young, I bicycled across Ireland. My Mom, in her rental car, was my sag wagon. :)) I have some similar photos, framed and still hanging on my office wall.

  3. What a lovely place to live… you're so lucky…. there is an enchanted place just like it in my imagination… I love to go there. Like right now.cielo

  4. Your pics are wondeful and tell a nice story. Great looking dog. Did you notice how we always find ways of getting our dogs into our posts?The best way we found to rid ourselves of slugs os soapy water in a spritzer. We spray the big guys in the mornings along with any we really like. With 400+ we don't bother until we see an attack. we also plant sacrificial ligularia amonst the hosta. Our slugs seem to like the ligullaria, whether we spray or not, better than the hosta. Now the deer like the hosta.jim

  5. I'd be the happiest person in the world if I lived in the midst of such beautiful surroundings!:) I'll check out your older posts…would love to read and see more…Thank you for stopping by my blog. I'm so glad to get to know you/your blog.Have a great weekend!

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