I didn’t realise quite how busy I’d been until I realised that I’d still not got round to blogging about our little day trip into Laurie Lee country back in the Christmas holidays (and there’s another post coming on Ironbridge, too). This was part two of a day that started at the hillfort at Painswick Beacon, which overlooks the Slad Valley in Gloucestershire, made famous by Cider with Rosie. The whole area is wonderful, though the way of life Laurie Lee described in the aforementioned memoir has, of course, sadly disappeared. When we pulled up in Slad, the village where Laurie Lee grew up and that he wrote about so vividly, the passage of time was evident in the telegraph poles that now interrupt the views of the valley.
This is the old school house, where Laurie Lee and his pals once had their lessons. It’s someone’s house now, I think – fancy living in a place with such literary connections! We didn’t manage to find the actual house he grew up in, but it’s a private home (it really should be a National Trust house, shouldn’t it?), so you can’t go into that either.
This is the view from the churchyard down to the Woolpack, Laurie Lee’s local. We went in and found it a quaint, old-fashioned English pub where we would have stopped for lunch had there been any tables free. Apparently Laurie Lee, sipping a pint at his usual table in the Woolpack, used to get asked by schoolchildren, “where is Laurie Lee buried?”! When he did actually die, his grave got pride of place by the door of the church, just to the left of this photo, so he’s still nice and close to the inn he once frequented. The views beyond are wonderful, particularly on the glorious day we visited.
The inscription on his simple gravestone reads, “He lies in the valley he loved”.
Down the road from Slad you reach another village called Selsley, where we found a charming spot for lunch in the form of the Bell Inn.
The shadows were lengthening by the time we reached Selsley Common, a short drive from where we’d stopped for lunch. We hadn’t planned to visit it, but the small carpark packed with cars was too intriguing not to make a spontaneous stop. We suspected there might be a view, and we were not wrong.
The views stretch for many miles around, more than compensating for the bracing wind.
I’ll leave you with a photo of this perfectly placed bench, where we would have lingered longer had it not been for the icy wind. The area may have changed a lot since Laurie Lee’s day, but it’s still a gorgeous part of the country and we’re lucky to have it so close by.