After 2 trips down to Salisbury Plain I decided to try something a little more local and drive some of the UCRs that were included in an LRO article a couple of years back.
The Sunday morning dawned dry and bright but with a strong, chilly breeze to keep temperatures down but it looked like a good day for greenlining. I’d made the meeting point fairly close to me (so that I didn’t have to get up at crack of sparrow’s) and I arrived there to find Rob and Lyn Walpole and Rob’s daughter and her partner Matt waiting in their respective 90s.
Our first lane was Greenway Lane from Shurdington, up the steep scarp of the hills. The lane itself wasn’t too difficult although tight in places and a few bits of tree sticking out to catch the unwary. From there we drove past Ullenwood and then up the next lane towards the old radio station at Shab Hill. Again nothing challenging as the surface was firm gravel and stone. A 10-minute road section through Birdlip towards Slad brought us to the next lane, a narrow and almost hidden turning, that dropped through the woods towards Jack’s Green. The surface of this lane was soft but it was quite open and we descended towards the valley without effort. Another short road drive and then a sharp left turn over a narrow cattle grid took us to a steep rocky climb back up the hillside. No real problems with this one either with a hard, rocky surface with a few exposed rock steps.
Dropping down into the village of slad we turned onto a very narrow, steep and twisty surfaced road to take us through the Slad valley and up again to the village of Bisley. Although not strictly a UCR this is a very pretty and interesting route to drive, passing some pretty little cottages, through open common land and round some sharp hairpin bends. Once clear of this it was a short burst through Bisley and on to Battlescombe Lane. This drops steeply down into a valley followed by an even steeper climb out through woodland. The surface varied from gravel/stone to muddy section and included about 100m of stream (only a few cm deep and usually dry). This lane was very overgrown on either side with small branches and brambles continually scraping the vehicle sides. Not one to be done in a new Disco or Range Rover!
From here we drove to the Duntisbournes and negotiated the road between leer and Abbots. For those unfamiliar with it this lane actually runs up the stream for about 100m. It is very narrow, just wide enough for a vehicle, and the water was running just deep enough to set up a small bow-wave.
Passing under the A417 we reached the start of Halfpenny Lane, dropping down from the ridge, through a steep sided valley and up to the village of Woodmancote. For this lane it was definitely time to turn in wing mirrors before we started. This was a wise move as the track was very narrow with lots of side undergrowth again. The surface was a mix of firm gravel and muddy sections going down the hill. There were also a lot of tree branches both sticking out from the sides and lying on the track. It seemed clear that this lane hadn’t been travelled by a 4 wheel vehicle in some while although there were fresh motorcycle tracks. There was a small flooded section in the bottom of the valley but the climb out was simple and uneventful.
From Woodmancote we dropped down towards Bagendon and found the next lane that we were to follow from the LRO article. This started out as a sharp turn onto a steep muddy track up through the woods. It started fairly open but towards the top it was very narrow and overgrown.
After this lane we headed of towards Sapperton, via Middle Duntisbourne and Daglingworth, to drive the short northernmost section of The Old Cheltenham Road. This comes out onto the A419 at the point Where the Sapperton Rail tunnel runs through a short exposed section. It used to be possible to stand and look down onto the railway to see the puff-puffs but sadly (no doubt for health and safety reasons) a metal fence now blocks the view.
Stopping for a quick refreshment we decided to head over to Avening/Minchinhampton and see if HRH Princess Royal wanted to come out to play. Maybe she wasn’t home but she didn’t wave as we drove up Stepps Lane (almost) past her front door.
As it was time to head back towards Chateau Loveday we thought it would make a fitting finale to the day to drop back down Greenway Lane to return to the starting point. It was no easier going down than it had been coming up!
Although it was a relatively short day it was very enjoyable. We drove some tracks that I hadn’t used for ages, got to see some great views, expensive homes and pretty cottages and saw wild daffs, primroses and bluebells in profusion and saw wonderful Red Kite and Buzzards soaring over the green countryside.
My thanks to everyone for making the day so enjoyable.
The next greenlining trip is scheduled for Sunday 8th May when I shall probably be heading to Salisbury Plain again. If you want to come then please let me know ASAP and I will put you on my list. At present there are 2 places left for the group so you need to get in quick!