We were on an eight-mile walk through landscape that straddles Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, on the trail of poets. Our route, marked "Poets' Path II", was through the hamlets of Leddington Preston, Greenway, Tillers Green, Broom's Green and Knight's Green, linking the former homes of the poets Edward Thomas, Robert Frost and Wilfred Wilson Gibson, and also the church in which the poet laureate John Masefield was baptised.
In the years immediately preceding the First World War the "Dymock poets" were inspired by the fragile peace here, and in the last months before war broke out several others - known as the "Georgian poets" - arrived to join them. They included Lascelles Abercrombie, John Drinkwater and Rupert Brooke.
We set out from Dymock, having bought an excellent little map for 50p at the church. Our route took us through fields, alongside the river Leadon, over a disused railway line and up to the hamlet of Tillers Green. Here we joined a minor road, passing two small fruit farms, before taking a path to the left (again signposted) that led us to a small summit with panoramic views of the Welsh Marches.
Our route then lay along a two-mile field section taking us past Old Field House, Leddington, a lonely property where Edward Thomas and his family stayed in 1914. Unfortunately a sharp shower caught us unawares, so we omitted the mile-long diversion to Preston Church. We emerged on to a road again at Little Iddens, a black-and-white cottage rented by Robert Frost in 1914. Nearby is Glyn Iddens, a large house where Eleanor Farjeon, poet and hymn writer, spent a holiday in the same year.
After this we had a two-mile road walk under lowering clouds to Broom's Green, where we had planned to lunch at the Horseshoe Inn. En route we passed the brick-and-timber Old Nail Shop, at Greenway Cross, where Gibson - turned down for military service because of poor eyesight - lived with his wife until 1917. We reached the pub in the dry, to be greeted by a friendly man cutting the hedge who announced himself as the owner of the free house. He explained that the pub was closed at lunch time on Tuesdays. It was a Tuesday, but noting our thirsty state he obligingly provided two welcome pints.
Our route took us the remaining two miles to Dymock via a clearly marked path to Knight's Green. Here we hit a minor road with verges bursting with wild roses. We passed a moated site in the field to our left, and crossed the signposted stile into the next field. If you have never walked through a field of oilseed rape I advise you not to try. Its sinewy stem is a natural trip-wire. And walking along the border of the field proved impossible, as the crop had been planted extremely close to the hedge. Our Poets' Path map showed that the area was bristling with footpaths and we took the next one along, on the left-hand side of the road. It took us to a minor road leading to Dymock, where we made for the church. Inside St Mary's - old, gnarled and containing Roman remains - we had a look at the impressive little exhibition on the Dymock Poets while the heavens opened outside.
9 Leave the churchyard by the kissing gate at the rear. Walk to the footbridge in the far corner of the field and follow the signs through seven fields until you reach a minor road. Follow this a quarter of a mile until you reach a T-junction.
9 By signpost at T-junction turn left. Follow Poets' Path II signs until Old Field House. Take signposted path across a field to Little Iddens. When you reach the road turn right. Follow road for a quarter of a mile, passing Mirabels, Hay Traps and Swords Farms.
9 On reaching grass triangle turn left down road signposted Broom's Green, Bromsberrow and Ledbury. At Greenway Cross (Old Nail Shop on left) follow road half mile towards Broom's Green. Soon after the memorial hall take path to the right, leading to Knight's Green.
9 Just beyond the T-junction take the stile into the field to the left. Follow path the remaining mile to Dymock church and starting point, or alternatively continue along the road to T-junction and turn left along the road to Dymock.
Maps. Ordnance Survey Landranger Map 149. Pathfinder sheet 1041 (SO 63/73). Poets' Path II sheet (50p at Dymock church)Reuse content