II.-A Cotswold Centre
WHEN on holiday it is as well to remember that although the capital is usually the most natural centre of the county, main towns of any kind arc best left alone, except for a passing visit. In choosing Stroud-or rather Rodborough-as your head- quarters for touring the Cotswolds, you preserve a holiday atmosphere and can still see Gloucester without being constantly in touch with its workaday aspect.
Gloucester lies about ten miles almost due north of Rodborough, with its neighbouring town, Cheltenham, just as easily accessible. The road to the north forks below Painswick, the Queen of the Cotswolds," set on the southern slope of a lovely valley 500 to 600 feet above sea level. Going on to Cheltenham, you pass through the main street of Painswick village by Cranham Woods, then skirt Birdlip a spot much frequented by Gloucester picnickers on account of the views from the top, which can be reached without tackling the gradient of the shortest road.
Should you leave this road on the right and climb over the crest of the hill, you can see Gloucester in the valley below. No one ever dreams of Gloucester as a port, yet big ships wine tip the Severn as far as this. There is no need to stay long in tile city except to see the Cathedral. The Norman piers of the nave are magnificent, and there is much else that i$ beautiful or curious, or both. You should also see a Roman villa at Chedworth, close by, which is typical of many similar villas in the district.
• Still further north, yet quite near at hand, are Tewkesbury and Malvern and many little Worcestershire villages still renowned for their skill in brewing strong home-made liquors: One has read of Tewkesbury in history and in Dickens, and a visit to the Hop Pole Inn makes one long for a return of the old coaching days.
Malvern has the makings of one of the most popular spas , in the country, but it hides its light under a bushel. Its water is 'said to be the purest in the country. Its views over eleven counties cannot be excelled. Its outdoor attractions- golf, fishing, hunting, tennis, archery-are as good as those offered by more famous resorts. Yet how many go to Malvern for the holidays ? It is not well enough known.
Back to Stroud and out to the west, you may pay a visit to Stonehouse and Dursley, the latter a quaintly typical Cotswold village, and Nailsworth Ladder, a famous test hill, near by. Further west is Berkeley Castle, which holds Drake's cabin furniture and where the wretched Edward II was put to death. Along down the Severn, you-see across the river Tintern and Chepstow at the mouth of the Wye. Both Chepstow and Tintern Abbey might well be included in any touring itinerary from RodbOrough, taking the road through Gloucester, Newnhain and Lvdney down the other bank of the Severn.
A journey of unforgettable loveliness is one taken from Chepstqw, through Tintern, along the banks of the pretty Wye as far as Monmouth, here branching off to the right through the good motoring roads of the Forest of Dean, passing Coleford, its centre, where is to be found the famous Speech Home of Charles H, now converted into an hotel, yet retaining many souvenirs of its former associations.
In the same district are Ross—the principal Wye Valley centre --and Hereford and Ledbury. If places further inland arc to be explored it would be better to transfer your head- quarters to Ross or another neighbouring resort.
C. A. R.