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Old Sodbury – The Dog Inn.
A two and a half mile circular walk along the Cotswold Way to the outskirts of Little Sodbury and back.
This circular walk is easy, for although it winds through woods, an orchard, an ancient hill-fort, meadows and fields, it is so well waymarked that it is almost impossible to get lost.
Old Sodbury is situated in South Gloucestershire on the eastern escarpment towards the southern end of the Cotswolds. Occupation of land in this area dates back more than 1,000 years, which means regardless of which walk you take, you will encounter a rich mixture of the ancient and modern. Having requested permission to use the Dog Inn’s car park on the promise that we would return for lunch after the walk, we crossed the A432, and followed the first of many wooden waymarkers opposite the pub indicating that we were walking the Cotswold Way.
This took us through a working farmyard, which on bearing to the right, led to a wooden gate and on through a well walked field towards the first of many metal kissing gates – there are no stiles on this walk.
This is the point where the medieval church dedicated to St John the Baptist appears at the top of a small hill, looking as if it is growing out of the very earth on which it stands. The view of the church at this point is as breathtaking as the fine views over the Seven Plain towards Bristol that can be enjoyed when you finally reach the top. A bench has been strategically placed alongside the entrance to the churchyard to enable walkers to relax and take in this view. A stone showing Old Sodbury’s geographical location, erected to celebrate the millennium, stands close to this seat. Having passed through the churchyard, and crossed the road waymarkers lead you along a wooded path which opens out into a meadow. Countless walkers who have passed this way leave their trail that eventually leads you to a path on the right hand side through an uphill wooded area. The Iron Age hill fort, which was occupied by both the Romans and the Saxons, comes next.
Having walked through the centre of the hill fort you bear left past a farm house, though wooded area and into a newly planted orchard to meet up with a minor road. Turning right at this point and walking this road for about 300 yards, waymarkers on the left direct you though a series of fields all linked by metal kissing gates and back to the hill on which the church stands.
Along the way you will encounter signs requesting you keep the dog on a lead, which we obeyed (mostly), though I must admit we did let our dog run free for a while when we found ourselves in a field free of livestock. However, cattle and sheep occupy many of the fields, so care is required if a dog accompanies you.
The pub looks quite austere when viewed from the road, but worry not, once you enter the main bar with its beams trimmed with hops and illuminated with sparkling lights you know you are in for a treat. The food is amazing and far cheaper than one would expect.
It’s a family owned pub that dates back to end of the 16th century, which could account for its friendly service and cheerful atmosphere. This pub has a fascinating history. Apparently a William Davies married the daughter of the pub’s owner when he moved to Old Sodbury in 1627. Because he always paid people in gold be became known as the Golden Farmer. But there was more to him than that.
Using his trade as an innkeeper and farmer as a cloak, he managed to acquire his wealth by becoming a highwayman. Apparently he often rode for some distance with his victims before robbing them. Forty-two years passed before he was finally recognised. He was tried in the Old Bailey in 1690 and hanged on Bagshot Heath.
For further information and details please visit: http://www.cotswolds.info/webpage/the-dog-inn.htm
To find out more about Helen Peacocke please visit: http://pawsunderthetable.blogspot.com/
You can also buy Helen's book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/