We left Cheltenham this morning without a firm plan as to what to do during the day as we drove back to Heathrow where we will stay overnight before catching our flight home tomorrow morning.
We started with a visit to Gloucester to see the redeveloped area around the docks n the River Severn. Its’ a bit like other cities where old industrial areas have been transformed into modern places with apartments and shopping centres. These docks were not the original home of ocean-going ships; instead, they were where the canal boats brought cargoes from the British Midlands along the vast network of canals. The area that has been redeveloped around the old port is very impressive.
We decided to then drive to Cirencester, but through the town of Stroud that we had not yet seen. Stroud seems to be a place that had its heyday in the Industrial Revolution. It was a cloth town where woolen mills were powered by the small rivers that flowed through the valleys. Particularly noteworthy was the production of military uniforms. It had a canal network in the form of the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames & Severn Canal, both of which survived until the early 20th century. Along this old canal were the remains of several mill buildings. At one place, we diverted off the main road to see a mlll and a port, only to find they had been re-developed into an industrial park and there was nothing there but a stone building and a car park.
We tried to stop in Cirencester to see a museum that housed some relics from Roman times but the car park was full and we couldn’t find anywhere to stop. We decided, after a few loops through the streets, that Roman mosaics were not so important after all, so we continued on.
Eventually, we came to a town called Faringdon where we stopped for lunch. We parked in the old market square and had lunch at the Bell Hotel, only because someone at the bus stop recommended it as having better food than the other pubs in town. An old market house still stands in the triangular market area.
It turned out to be a very nice day driving through the English countryside. We could have just belted down the motorway and been back at Heathrow in a couple of hours. Instead, we set it to drive the ‘shortest route’, so it navigated us through many country roads and laneways. We saw some interesting villages and by mid afternoon we had driven through the town of Henley and across the river where the annual regatta is held.
The traffic got thicker as we got closer to Heathrow, especially through Stroud. By 4.00 pm, we had reached our airport hotel and had our bags in our room ready for a big repack in preparation for our flight home tomorrow morning.