Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Finding the Source of the Frome by Bike

I can’t recommend this enough. Have a look at the pictures that will eventually appear on in the Landscape section, but here is a recommended route from Stroud. This ride obviously involves quite a few climbs, but get off and push along the quieter lanes when you fancy it and that should provide variety. I took about four hours there and back from Stroud, with breaks for walking, eating, photographing, musing and so on.
I went along Bisley Road to climb up to Stancombe and then past Camp and Foston’s Ash, to turn right towards Brimpsfield. Keep your eyes peeled for Climperwell Farm; just past that is a footpath into a clearing on your right. Here you find a well and a spring – one of the sources of the Frome. It is an absolutely exhilarating sight, for when you glance at the map you notice that there are tumuli in the fields above this spring. You have bicycled through time into a landscape with prehistoric meaning.
Brimpsfield is a medieval delight: a church set well away from the village, next to a motte, once the site of two separate castles. You can see water down in the valley below the motte and the map indicates springs down there. If you walk to the wall behind the church, then you are looking towards Nettleton, where springs also issue and feed the eventual Frome.
It seems a bit of a shock to see traffic hurtling along the road, when standing in such a medieval spot – but that road is, of course, the old Roman Ermin Street, running between Gloucester and Cirencester. There is a footpath going down towards the valley bottom in the direction of Watercombe farm, but I chose to bicycle – I think I might walk it next time. There are springs down there  - the other source of the Frome.
These two sources merge and the waters at Caudle Green are christened, as it were, the River Frome. Caudle Green is another delight – it was interesting to see how puddles were standing in the road below Spring Cottage, even though the recent weeks had been so dry. (I made this exploration on May Day - Underneath the Pavements, the Beach!) A climb up through Caudle Green (Stroud ‘bus service once a week, on a Thursday) took me back to the Stroud-Cranham road; I then descended towards Slad for Stroud. I think it better to return to town on this route: it is such a sustained and unrelenting drag up to the top through Slad; the Bisley climb is more abrupt, but shorter, and then you have the free wheeling freedom of the long drawn out downward ride to Slad and Stroud.
A great day out.

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