Woolhope and Marcle Hill

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Another walk, this time from Ben Giles' Wye Valley book.

The book suggests starting at the pub, but after a little googling I discovered that there's much more parking space at Woolhope parish hall just up the road.

Leaving the village, we walked up a lane that turned into a track, and then just a footpath in a field - which also contained some old lime kilns.  After a slight descent, it was back up the hill through more fields until we reached the road along the ridge at Hooper's Oak.

lime kilns near Woolhope
Lime kilns

The views from the ridge weren't bad for a slightly damp December day - Malverns and May Hill clearly visible.  I'm sure it'd be much more spectacular in the sunshine though.

There's one thing you definitely can't miss about Marcle hill - the Ridge Hill TV mast.  Fun fact - I remember when I was growing up we had two aerials on the house - one for whatever the 'local' mast with the best signal was (google says Wenvoe), and one pointing at Ridge Hill so we could get "proper" Channel 4 as well as S4C.  Unless the weather was too crap, anyway.

Also on top of the hill is a trig point! One that's been nicely looked after and repainted recently.  We were on the other side of a fence to it, but the path did seem to jump around between fences so I'm not sure if we could/should have been closer.

trig point on Marcle hill

Shortly after passing the TV mast we left the ridge, turning right and heading down a sunken track towards Sollers Hope.

Several different footpaths radiate out from just beyond the church, and the one we wanted to be on turned out to be on the opposite side of a stream from where we actually were. Signs aren't always as clear as I'd like!  Rather than backtrack, we picked our way to Alford's Mill via other paths and a bit of off piste-ing through some woods.

Just over 10km in total, followed by a drink at the (dog friendly) Crown Inn before heading back to the car, and home.

Nailsworth and Avening

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After (literally) months of barely doing anything interesting with our weekends, we were well overdue a 'non local' weekend dog walk.  Though I am enjoying the new Saturday routine of walking to the local community centre coffee shop for tea and cake

We decided on walk #21 from the Cicerone 'Walking in the Cotswolds' book - a 10km loop from Nailsworth. Judging by the name of the matching route I found on OS maps it's also featured in Country Walking magazine at some point.

Starting from the town hall car park in Nailsworth, the walk up Tetbury lane was steep to make my legs complain. Probably just a lack of hill walking fitness!

The route then follows the edge of several fields - where we saw a few pheasants, and a deer in the distance - before dropping down to follow a stream and pop out on the road to Avening.

fields and stream near Avening

Half a mile or so along the road there's a convenient dog friendly pub (The Bell) so we stopped for a drink.

Once you leave the village (again, on a steepish road that turns into a track) it's bridleways all the way back to Nailsworth, past some sort of equestrian centre, and following some very clearly signposted paths through Hazel Wood.

clear footpath/bridleway signs

We saw plenty of other walkers, so it's obviously a popular area.  It's not hard to see why - so easily accessible from the town.

Barcelona

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Top comment from friends/family on hearing we went to Barcelona: "Did you get pickpocketed?"

No!

And now that we've got that important question out of the way, here's a vague summary of what did happen:

Sagrada Familia and other Gaudí stuff

I've seen plenty of photos of the exterior of the Sagrada Familia, and yet I was still surprised that it managed to be even uglier in real life. The nativity facade features carvings on top of carvings on top of carvings. I believe this side was 'finished' before Gaudí got squashed by a tram, but I can't help wondering how much more, well, more it might have been if he'd lived longer.

The passion facade is a lot less bonkers (and certainly has nowhere near as much carved shit), but still not exactly nice to look at - it's very stark and pointy and looks really mean.

The inside, on the other hand... wow.  It's so colourful!  And not much in-your-face religious imagery, which is a very refreshing change from all the other Spanish cathedrals I've visited.

colourful stained glass in the Sagrada Familia
mmm rainbowy

One side's windows are predominately reds and yellows, while the opposite is blues and greens.  With the light shining through it's pretty much one big glowing abstract rainbow.  I like rainbows.

[Bonus points go to Jon for somehow putting his phone camera in black and white mode while taking photos of the stained glass!]

We went for a tower tour of the nativity facade, which involved a lot of stairs, general confusion of which way you’re supposed to go, and some close ups of the (ugly) 'bowls of fruit' at the top of some of the (many) towers.

There are plenty of other Gaudí designed buildings in Barcelona that we didn't bother visiting, but we did cough up €10 to go around the monument zone in Park Güell. You do get a nice view over the city, but although it was exactly what I was expecting, I generally found it a bit underwhelming.  

A large case of "pots and kettles" here, but there were soooo many people just taking photos - my favourite being a lady who was very visibly tutting and rolling her eyes whenever someone dared to walk in the background of "her" personal instagram photoshoot. Sorry, but that's what happens when you decide to pose on a busy footpath at a popular tourist site!!

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