Entering The Shire (Cotswolds 1)

After a quick shower and breakfast at the Youth Hostel, I grabbed my backpack and went to the Railway Station, where I bought a one-way ticket to Moreton-in-Marsh, a small town in the Cotswolds.

When I was about halfway I passed a little station named Combe, a name on the railway map which I wouldn’t even have noticed¬† or thought worthwhile, but for a small voice in the back of my head warning me not to get through this little village but to travel around so no-one would see me pass… And then I suddenly knew where I had seen that name before. It was on the Lord of the Rings map near Bree and its Prancing Pony Inn. It was one of the small communities passed Bree which the Fellowship of the Ring tried to avoid to not draw attention, while running into the wilds, fleeing for the Black Riders…

After arriving in Moreton-in-Marsh I had hoped to be able to take a bus towards Cockleford on the western side of the Cotswolds, but at the bus cabin, I didn’t see any timetable that matched what I had searched for on the internet. I had found a bus connection requiring one or two changes on other busses, to get to Cockleford, but standing there I decided to try and negotiate myself into a cab.

Luckily for me a cab had just arrived, picking up a south east asian lady to travel through the Cotswolds. I asked whether they were going towards Cockleford too and the cab driver said he could do that. The lady was also negotiating a price with the cab driver and we decided to split the cost of the cab to her destination and the cab driver (Simon) gave me a fair price for the remaining part of the journey.

Cab drive

The cab drive would be easy going so we could see some places on the go.

The small country roads of the Cotswolds, are so beautiful. There’s almost no traffic and that’s a good thing too, because traffic has great difficulty to pass eachother…

Everywhere were beautiful, thick, green hedges and tree branches hung over the road casting shadows…

The cab driver didn’t use the main roads to Stow-on-the-Wold and further to my travel companions destination of Bourton-on-the-Water. When we reached Stow-on the-Wold however, we did follow the main road to Bourton-on-the-Water but there were so many tourists going there that we almost got stuck in a traffic jam. Simon turned the car and decided to drive over The Slaughters to Bourton-on-the-Water.

Upper Slaughter

We passed the tiny village of Upper Slaughter and our driver stopped the car a bit so we could make a few pictures…

Upper Slaughter is a village in the English county of Gloucestershire located in the Cotswold district located 4 miles (6.4 km) south west of the town of Stow-on-the-Wold. Nearby places include Lower Slaughter, Bourton-on-the-Water and Daylesford.

Through the tiny villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter flows the River Eye…

The above sight somehow remembered me of another image in my head which I thought felt very similar to this one. It was the image of Hobbiton at The Water. And yes there are no round windows and doors in these houses, but still it felt Hobbitish…

Then we also passed the gates of Upper Slaughter Manor, an Elizabethan Manor House, built by the Slaughter family and incorporating part of an earlier medieval building, with Jacobean porch and late 14th to early 15th century two-vaulted crypt. Gardens include a rose garden with reconstructed 18th century folly, a lake and a self-guided nature trail suitable for children…

Then we drove on to Bourton-on-the-Water. I just mentioned two rivers before. The Eye in Upper Slaughter and very near to the Upper Slaughter Manor as well and The Water flowing through Hobbiton towards Bywater (where the Green Dragon Inn was (In the film the Inn seemed to be in Hobbiton, but the books (Lord of the Rings) situated it at Bywater, a few kilometres downstream)). The Eye was a tributary to the Windrush river which flows through Bourton. Bourton-on-the-Water…. It just sounds hobbitish. I’m going to convince you of that even more in my following blogs, but it suffices to say that the more I drove through this landscape (which was often visited by Professor Tolkien who studied and lived and later worked in nearby Oxford), the more I got convinced that this was his Shire…

After getting into a traffic jam again at Bourton-on-the Water and saying goodbye to my travel companion, the cab driver Simon drove on via lots of small country roads towards my base for some long distance walks and place to spent the next couple of nights…

Now I do know that some of you reading this blog have already given up on my line of thought regarding this being the Shire and I do agree that it still seems to be a bit far fetched. That’s why I decided to get into this topic a bit deeper in my next three weblogs.

It is still hard to convince the reader when all I can point at is circumstancial evidence but no real proof of my assumption that this is definitely the example or at least part of / one of the examples that Tolkien used to form his image of the Shire.

So I’ll stop convincing you and I’ll wait for my next blogs to add some better material which will support my theory.

But for now my cab driver Simon had brought me to the place I had chosen to stay for the next nights, in a tiny community of only a very few houses or better farms at a place named Cockleford…

…at an Inn named…

Oh bollocks, I’m not gonna tell you but I got that feeling again that there’s a hobbitish atmosphere in the Cotswolds, or should I say in the Shire…

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