Under a wall-to-wall blue sky, Dymock glowed in its best spring colours – mellow red brick, black-and-white timbering, rosy sandstone of the church, green pastures, and the dusky pink soil so characteristic of this corner of west Gloucestershire. First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
A quiet rural landscape, seductive to the clutch of poets who lived hereabouts in the golden summer of 1914 – Lascelles Abercrombie and Wilfred Gibson, half-forgotten talents nowadays, and two iconic names of poetry, Robert Frost and Edward Thomas. It was while walking in these woods and fields that Frost persuaded Thomas to chance his arm at writing verse, and the hundred-odd poems that Thomas produced before his death in the Battle of Arras in 1917 proved some of the 20th century’s greatest.
Apart from poetical connections, Dymock and its sister village of Kempley have another claim to fame – the profusion of wild daffodils that colour the local road verges, field edges and woods in spring. Out in the fields between the two villages we followed the Daffodil Way past old brick farms and through woods and orchards where clumps of daffodils shook in the cold east wind – slender plants with delicate translucent sepals of creamy yellow, and puckered trumpet mouths that shone a rich egg-yolk gold in the sun. The warm weather had not yet melted the snow on the distant Malvern Hills; their peaks glittered white against the intense blue of the sky in the north.
St Mary’s Church stands a little apart from its parent village of Kempley, a modest Norman building in a daffodil-filled churchyard. The church contains the oldest timber roof in England, and some of its most wonderful wall paintings. Shadowy figures form the tableaux of an Easter play, and a Wheel of Life with cameos from birth through childhood and manhood to old age, infirmity and death. Here above the chancel are Christ seated in Judgement among cross-winged angels, while the Twelve Apostles look on with uplifted faces. It’s quite remarkable to think that some 900 years separate this rustic artist and those who admire his work today.
We tore ourselves away at last and followed the winding Kempley Brook down to Kempley Green. Nesting tits and finches sang loud in Dymock Wood, and an elderly farmer at Timber Hill Farm caught his over-eager sheepdog puppy up in his arms and wished us ‘Good afternoon’ as we made for Dymock and the distant white-capped Malverns.
Start: Beauchamp Arms, Dymock, Glos, GL18 2AQ (OS ref SO 701312)
Getting there: Bus: Stagecoach Service 132
Road: Dymock is on B4215 Newent-Ledbury road (M50, Jcts 2 or 3). Park near pub/parish hall.
Walk (10 miles, easy, OS Explorers 190, 189, OL14; map at kempleytardis.org.uk/walks; many ‘Daffodil Way’/DW fingerposts): Through churchyard gate beside Parish Hall; right along east end of church, then left along north side of churchyard. Through kissing gate/KG; bear left past corner of housing estate; cross left-hand of 2 footbridges (698315). On across stile (‘Daffodil Way’/DW); right along layby to cross B4215 (696316). Up lane opposite (DW). Path skirts Allum’s Farm (signs); through gate (689312); on through orchard (yellow arrows/YAs); through gate at far end (688309). Along field edge to road (688307). Right for ⅓ mile; right through KG (683306, DW); aim for right corner of conifer wood ahead. Cross 2 footbridges into wood (684309). Half right on path to follow wood edge. Out through KG; in again through next KG; follow path through Allums Grove (YAs), leaving wood through kissing gate (680313). Keep left of pond; on across footbridge; right through KG (678314); right along hedge and round field edge. Right over footbridge (676315); half left to cross stile (YA) and field to road (673316). Left to St Mary’s Church (670313).
Leaving church, left along road. At T-junction, ahead over stile (668311, DW). Cross field; through gateway with stream on left (666309); follow stream (YAs) for nearly a mile to road (663296). Left to T-junction; right (666293, ‘Upton Bishop’). In 50m, left (DW) over stile. Follow hedge round to right; over stile; follow hedge on right over stiles for 3 fields. Over footbridge (670288, YA); along back of shed at Moor House to farm track. Left over stile (DW); in 100m, right over footbridge (YA); half left, following YAs/footbridge up to road by house in Kempley Green (677289, DW). Right; in 100m, left and immediately right (DW), and follow YAs and ‘3 Choirs Way’ (3CW) waymarks across 4 fields into Dymock Wood (683286). Through wood (YAs, 3CW) for ⅔ mile to road (691286).
Right (DW) over M50. At T-junction, left (694284, DW). In 350m, left (DW) through KG; under M50; right through KG (YA); on beside motorway. At end of 2nd field, left (698289). Cross farm lane (699293, YA); on along field edge, then track past Boyce Court. Between gateposts to T-junction (703299). Right and left (DW); follow canal/stream, then field edges (YAs) to Dymock.
Lunch: Beauchamp Arms, Dymock (01531-890266; beauchamparms.co.uk) – excellent village pub-with-food
Kempley Daffodil Weekend (walks etc): 15-16 March 2014; daffs.org.uk, kempleytardis.org.uk/walks