Thursday, 7 June 2012

Cotswold Way - Day 7 - Coldharbour Farm to Wotton-under-Edge

Today Dursley is internationally famous in a way that no-one would have believed twenty years ago.  Sure it has had the odd brush with fame before - Listers produced machines from here, and Mikael Pedersen came from Denmark to produce his bicycle here.  Shakespeare, it is claimed, may have taught here for a while and there's a pub, The Old Spot, which was CAMRA 'Pub of the Year' a few years ago.  

None of these, however, are the reason that people know about Dursley.  Harry Potter fans know the Dursleys from JK Rowling's novels; she was born just down the road from here.  Due to her phenomenal her sales and the almost obsessive devotion of her fans, Dursley has become world famous.  Yet, for all great things about the Harry Potter novels (and I've read each one, seen all the films and will be taking the studio tour later this summer) JK Rowling isn't the most important literary figure we'll encounter on the Cotswold Way today.  Far, far, from it. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  I park in Wotton-under-Edge and get a bus to Dursley, delaying my start for the day because the weather forecast is lousy for the day.  The worst of it is a heavy downpour with some thunder at lunchtime.  So I plan my journey to start in the early afternoon.  And, of course, it's perfectly dry all morning and only begins to rain as I step off the bus at Dursley.  

The first twenty five minutes is spent walking in light rain back to where I left the trail last week.  It's easy walking and, making sure I touch the stile I climbed over at the end of the previous leg, I turn around and start Day 7 proper.  At the same time the rain stops and despite some threatening black clouds that have locals predicting a downpour, it's dry for the rest of the walk.   Dursley is pretty uneventful (sorry Potter fans) but the steep climb out of the village up Stinchcombe is more memorable - why did Pedersen think that producing a bicycle here in the hills was a good idea? 

The whole of this leg is well signposted with the slightly panic inducing waymark near the top of the hill which gives two options, neither of which is marked with the magic words 'Cotswold Way'.  It's only a few yards on from here though that I come across the Golf Club, just where the map says it should be.      

Stinchcombe is golf course number 3 on this walk and is doing good business.  There's a choice of walking across the course or walking a couple of miles around it.  Both are recognised routes and neither will have the good people who regulate the Cotswold Way thinking any the worse of you.  But my internal policeman won't even counter the shorter route, even though the guidebook says the longer route isn't worth taking.  And they were probably right.  But the walking was easy and no-one can take my badge off of me at the end on a technicality.  (You do know there is a badge in this, don't you?)

I step on it over the second part of the golf course as I head to North Nibley not just for fear of rain but also wanting to get to the village shop before it closes.   

It's lovely walking, through fields and crops and even making the brief acquaintance of a couple of horses. 

Then, one of those lovely little moments that make walking the Cotswold Way such a joy.  A fridge just on the side of the road, advertising chilled bottled water for walkers.  There's an honesty box in the fridge along with the bottled water and a rather charming notice saying that the price has been held for six years at 50p a bottle.  It was a great investment, which refreshed body and soul.     

I make it to the Village Shop in North Nibley with 10 minutes to spare.  I'd upped my pace not to buy a pork pie, but because I had read in a guidebook that this was the place to pick up the key for the next destination on my walk.  It would mean walking up the hill twice, but I was prepared to do so for what lay ahead.  Turned out that I had need not have worried, the shop assistant tells me that it was open and would be left that way.  Still, as a result of  being there I was a pork pie up.  It felt like it would be rude not to have bought one.    

I'm shortly at the bottom of some very steep steps where I have a quiet smile at the written notice at the bottom.  After several stops on the way up to catch my breath my attitude changes from one of being sniffy about his writing skills to being grateful for the work he must have put in to do this cleaning.  Well done Raymond!  This is seriously steep and very hard work. 

Then, here it is, through the trees.  I find myself looking up at the Tynedale monument, perched high above North Nibley.  With all due respect  to JK Rowling, William Tynedale is an even more important literary figure in the life of the English speaking world than even her.  

He was born in North Nibley and is the man who gave us the Bible in English.  He asked his Bishop for permission to do this and was denied, but driven by a desire to make the Scriptures available for "the boy that driveth the plow", he carried on anyway.  He was labelled a heretic, because the position of the church was that the Scriptures should not be translated into English.  It seems ridiculous to even type those words today.   

He took to the continent and finished his translations in Germany and Belgium.  They were printed up and then smuggled back into Britain.  For this he was betrayed, arrested, and then strangled before being burnt at the stake in Belgium.  His dying words were reported as being ""Lord! Open the King of England's eyes", and it seems like his prayer was answered.  Just four years later the King approved the publication of English translations of the Bible, based on Tynedale's work.  It is calculated that about three quarters the King James or Authorised Version of the Bible is Tynedale's work.  

Thanks to him, you and I can read the Bible.  We may not choose to, but it's there for all of us.  Driven by one man's desire to make it accessible to all who wish to read it.  Now 'the boy that driveth the plow' could read it for himself.  Here he could read that he could only be put right by faith in God alone, all the good works in the world weren't going to save him.  No wonder the church at the time were so cross.

It's ironic, of course, that there are still some people who insist on using the work of Tynedale today and who refuse to accept any other translation of the Scriptures, even though it's so dated now.  Some love the beauty of the language, others are tied to tradition.  I have a degree in Religious Studies with some English Literature modules thrown in for good measure and I have a hard time reading the KJV.  Fair play to those who don't but don't make it a requirement unless you want to hide the Scriptures from people today.   Michael Gove, a Conservative minister here, has just sent a KJV to all schools, marking it's 400 year anniversary.  I'm sure the kids will be delighted.  Richard Dawkins supports the move and if I didn't want kids to read the Bible, so would I.   

I reckon that today Tynedale would be coding the Scriptures to produce versions for the iPad, or producing it in cartoon form for YouTube, or doing something digital and ingenious for something on the cutting edge of new technology so that the boy that driveth the X Box might be able to engage with the Bible.

I seem to have gone off on one.  Suffice to say, "Hats off to Tynedale!"  And there's a great view from the top of the tower that commemorates and celebrates his life.         

From the monument, it's a gentle couple of miles to Wotton.  Unlike most of the woodlands that I have walked on the Cotswold Way, this is pretty level and easy walking in evening sunlight before a sharp downhill section into the town. 

Normally, I'd be walking the following day as well but there are long bouts of heavy rain, high winds, and warnings about severe damage across the south west for the next couple of days.  Turned out that they were right enough about that.  Day 8 will need to be rearranged. 

No comments:

Post a Comment