Styles of stiles and trip miscellany

13 May

13 May 2023.

England delivered exactly what we expected: occasional sun and plenty of damp, but high spirits surrounding the spectacle of King Charles III’s coronation.

What a privilege it was to be in-country for the event! When we booked our trip, Queen Elizabeth was still very much alive so being there — although not in London, thank the gods — was strictly coincidental.

In Lower Slaughter on the Sunday after the Coronation, the village prepares for The Big Lunch, a community celebration. These parties took place all over the U.K.

First stop was Oxford, convenient on our path to The Cotswolds for some country walking. Oxford was decked out for the upcoming pageant and did not disappoint. We toured parts of Oxford University with a doctoral candidate and enjoyed his inside-take on how the place functions and inevitable comparisons to the U.S. university experience.

Blenheim Palace was a glimpse into the aristocratic lifestyle as the family still resides there. Goslings and ducklings peppered the estate grounds and the gardens were in fine form. I can only imagine how gorgeous the roses must be in season. Our final Oxford tour was of the Bodleian Libraries, dating to the 15th century when 281 manuscripts were donated, the libraries now house over 13 million printed items.

The oldest part of the Bodleian, Duke Humphrey’s’ Library. Volumes cannot be “checked out” but must be read on-site with a chaperone librarian.

Almost over jet lag, we headed to Bourton-on-the-Water, our home for a week. We chose a self-guided center-based itinerary with HF Holidays staying in a hotel that was previously a private residence built in 1662.

This is the view of the grand staircase that greeted us outside our our room.

No matter how often we tour in the UK or the rest of Europe I am constantly dumbfounded by the history and the preservation and adaptation of old buildings. HF Holidays provided a lovely room, cooked breakfast and dinner with a packed lunch daily, and dozens of walking itineraries to choose from. We could select from clear instructions encased in waterproof laminating to guide us. All we had to do was don our gear and head out each day.

Those waterproof instructions were necessary. Our walk conditions have ranged from misty to sun-dappled to downright soggy. It reminded us of Oregon although in Oregon we have never hiked with sheep nor though mud as sticky and pervasive as we have done here.

And there are stiles of many styles. Frankly, I prefer a good gate, but the stiles were definitely a sensible solution to allowing walkers to walk unhindered yet keep sheep and cows in their fields. They are being replaced in many areas to allow barrier-free access to public footpaths.

Our final day in Bourton-on-the-Water was weather perfection, a sunny day capped by a thunderstorm at 17:00 when we were safely “home.”

We set off for Wales yesterday (Friday). Almost two hours by private transport thanks to a rail strike in England, then a 3 hour train ride. Conwy, the town we are staying in, is charming and today’s weather exactly what you’d hope for on a spring day!

Will write more from Ireland later in the trip!

10 Responses to “Styles of stiles and trip miscellany”

  1. Laurel May 13, 2023 at 13:35 #

    Hi Lori. Thanks for reading!


  2. Marcia Lynn Kakiuchi May 13, 2023 at 12:06 #

    That picture of you two at Lower Slaughter (what a terrible name, though!) is just magnificent. I also loved the old old hotel as it was so classy. And all of those stiles (gates in my thinking) were wonderful to look at although experiencing getting through or over them is something else altogether!


    • Grier May 13, 2023 at 12:08 #

      I should have signed my comment. Pagebypage is me, Grier.


    • Laurel May 13, 2023 at 13:38 #

      Hahaha! “Slaughter” is an old term for slough. And a slough it was in some places! One day mud and cow pies about 6 inches deep!


  3. pagebypage14 May 13, 2023 at 12:01 #

    So glad to see your delightful post and superb photos from the Cotswolds and Oxford. I’ll be interested in learning the details of your Oxford tours. Another appealing difference between hiking in Oregon and the UK is the opportunity to walk through charming villages. Enjoy the rest of your trip! I’ll look forward to your next post.


    • Laurel May 13, 2023 at 13:40 #

      It was an experience! We rather missed the easy transportation in the Dolomites and Alps, though. We did our Oxford City and Uni tour with Get Your Guide and chose a private option. Loved that it was a student, as all of their guides are.


  4. Liz May 13, 2023 at 08:21 #

    Glad you’re enjoying the UK. The HF sounds good, didn’t know they offered self guided walks. Did you enjoy the communal living, sharing meals etc?


    • Laurel May 13, 2023 at 13:44 #

      Hi Liz. The shared meals were fun. Lots of Brits, 4 other Americans, 2 Canadians, and an Australian. One of the leaders said it was the most international group he’s ever been a part of. I have to say 7 nights of 90 minute, 3-course meals was a lot. We usually eat simply at night and chill so I found myself quite exhausted by the day’s activities followed by the evening of socializing. It is a great concept, though, and extremely well done!


  5. lori5124 May 13, 2023 at 07:07 #

    As always, interesting and inspiring! Thanks for sharing your adventures!



  1. Detour, or why we are in Switzerland and not Ireland | Girovaga - May 20, 2023

    […] last I wrote (see Styles of Styles) we had just arrived in Wales in the charming town of Conwy. Northern Wales is lush and green, much […]


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