Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sapperton: "Are there bears in England?"

The day couldn't really decide what it wanted to be this morning, but that didn't stop us from tagging along on "one of Chad's little adventures," as his wife, Heidi, says; this one to the Sapperton Canal Tunnel, along the abandoned Thames and Severn Canal, just outside of Cirencester.

While that section of the canal was abandoned in the 20s, the area around the tunnel portal at Coates looks to be in great condition; as Chad said, "Give it a coat of paint 'n' it's good to go." The Daneway portal at the other end is a different story, however: you're hard-pressed to find the canal walls before you're even out of sight of it. It was a lot of fun to explore, though. The Daneway portal in particular didn't have as much standing water around it, and as you stood on the threshold, peering into the depths, you'd swear there was a crowd of explorers in there splashing about in the wellies, but for the absence of flashlight beams. There was no reply to Chad's shouts, however, and we busied ourselves with less spooky explanations for the voices we were sure we'd heard earlier as we made our way up the steep grade, toward what we learned was the steeple of St. Kenelm's Church. Any remaining tension was dispelled in the laughter that followed Chad's clear-blue-sky question, in what must've looked to him like a particularly wild part of the area around Sapperton: "Are there bears in England?"

I forgot to mention that all this hiking was possible thanks to bellies full of fantastic roast pork and beef from the Daneway Inn; it was a great little spot we found near the portal of the same name, after failing to find room at the picturesque Tunnel House pub near the Coates portal. Walking up to the Daneway, I felt like I was approaching the back porch of a familiar house -- like coming home or visiting old friends. The hodge-podge of furniture and knick-knacks only added to the sentiment. And as if that wasn't enough, they had four real ales on tap too. (Just realizing now that I forgot to take pictures there, darn it.)

We'd talked about going shopping in Gloucester or Bristol at some point, and as the sun was setting we did make it to the Costco in the latter -- just like home, strangely enough -- where I picked up a good fleece jacket for the cooler weather. Just a great day all-round.

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