A Roman odyssey in deepest Gloucestershire.

Individually, there are many things that make Barnsley House worth writing home about: the rooms, the spa, the food, the countryside, the service and the general atmosphere to name a few.  Together, these delights conspired to make our 2-night inclusive break in this little 18-room Cotswold charmery one of the best New Year’s Eves I can remember.

Barnsley House, Gloucestershire
Barnsley House, Gloucestershire

But what really made it for me was a 5 mile jog through driving rain taking in a 2-mile section of ancient Roman Road at twilight.  I tried to discover its name (it’s only marked on the map unimaginatively as “Roman Road”) but concluded it’s a cattle droving route better known as “The Welsh Way”.

The village of Barnsley is easily commutable from central London but it’s 100% pure Gloucestershire countryside once you’re there.  Set in a small cluster of butter-coloured stone cottages, the Barnsley House Hotel team under Charmer-in-Chief Michele Mella has got everything right.  They grow their own veges, lay their own eggs and pamper for England – albeit at a price!

I struck out west on the main road from the front gate for a few hundred yards before taking another left and heading south on a small unmarked by-road. Ten minutes later I reached the intersection with the Roman Road.  Here, I took yet another left and stuck to the route for some twenty minutes.  It’s not completely straight like you expect a Roman Road to be and it undulates gently past wide, rain-sodden arable farmland.  In my mind, I pictured Roman cohorts on their way to St Albans and rag-clad cattle herders who must have used the route in years gone by but although I thought I saw some it may have been light and shadows….

No Roman cohorts in sight
No Roman cohorts in sight

At Ready Token Covert I doubled back left again towards my origin.  Markers and signs are non-existent and by now it was almost dark but I had a local map and judged distance by passing farms.  It’s an all-road 5.4 mile loop, not too challenging a run but the Hotel has no gym so it’s a good alternative.  Barnsley House and its famous Rosemary Verey garden is a treat and the countryside is deep England and a joy to behold – strongly recommended.



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