Roman Way

 Phil led us across fields to the north and then we turned west to cross the A46 to join the Cotswold Way and turn north along good paths and over the impressive fort. This iron age hill fort commands an impressive view. The earth walls enclose an area of 11 acres. The Romans strengthened the fort for use as a camp to support their western frontier  In 577 AD, the Saxon army used the fort as a camp before the battle of Dyrham. We descended to the road, passing through Little Sodbury village and through fields with a climb into Horton. We turned east, climbed up past the school, passing an impressive ‘dovecote’ and north past Horton Camp Hillfort. We continued north up the Cotswold Way along good tracks, passing several other walkers. Near Horton Court, we turned east and then north to follow the path adjacent to Highfield Lane, which led to an excellent track (Bath Lane), which led to the road to the north of Hawkesbury Upton and followed it to the Somerset Monument. This is an attractive, grade II listed tower designed by Lewis Vulliarmy. It was erected in 1846 to commemorate General Lord Edward Somerset, son of the 5th Duke of Beaufort. We turned east along a good path and stopped on a grassy slope for a morning break. We turned and took a path west to reach an excellent track north, which led into Hillesley. We passed along the High Street and followed a road westwards leading to Day House Lane, following it to turn south through long grass across Assley Common and then west at the corner to cross the common and continue across fields,We emerged at Chase Lane and turned south and into Lower Woods Nature Reserve. ‘This outstandingly beautiful woodland, lying among ancient commons, is one of England’s largest oak-ash woods on heavy clay soils. It is a paradise for endangered wildlife’  We followed good tracks and entered Stanley Meadow along ‘The Walk’ for a lunchtime stop on a pile of logs. Here we met Neil from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, who lives in the Lodge. Phil introduced him and he talked passionately about the Reserve and its ancient roots, including the discovery nearby of a Roman Villa, Bath House  and Mosaic  which is now covered up for preservation.

After lunch, we followed a long path south past The Grubbings, Upper Wetmoor, Burnt Coppice, Bays Wood and Stonybridge Wood. We turned west then south to exit the Reserve at Vinney Lane and follow a good track to Mapleridge Lane. Here we turned west and then along a path south into Sodbury Common. Near the top, we paused for an afternoon stop in the heat of the day, before continuing down to cross the River Frome and follow it along the eastern outskirts of Chipping Sodbury. We reached the Frome Valley Walkway and turned east along it across fields and climbing up to St John the Baptist church at Old Sodbury. We turned south along Church Lane to the main road, but soon turned off and up, aptly named, Hill Lane. This turned east and we followed it across the A46 and back to the Cross Hands at 4.35 pm. It had been an brilliant walk of 17 miles across varied terrain and much enjoyed by all.