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Motorcycling the Gloucestershire turnpikes

Friday, 2 October 2020 at 21:11

Toll house at Tewkesbury on Dr John Dunn. Toll house at Tewkesbury

Motorcycling the Gloucestershire turnpikes

28th September, 2020

All roads drop from Stow-on-the-Wold and my chosen route was no different. The Stow to Stumps Cross Turnpike dropped down through the leafy canopy of Abbotswood to Upper Swell and the very narrow bridge over the River Dikler, before travelling westwards along the modern B4077 across the rising back of the Cotswoldsto the steep escarpment ahead.

Milepost, Upper Swell

Stumps Cross, where a toll house still stands proud to this day, is at the top of the steep drop down the western face of the Cotswolds and marks the point at which the auspices of the Stow to Stumps Cross Turnpike Trust ended and the responsibilities of the Tewkesbury Trust began.

Surviving former toll house (was Stumps Cross gate) on the B4077

Before reaching the edge land however, a tributary of the Windrush has to be crossed at Ford. In medieval times there was a mill here on the river Windrush which rises a mile or so to the north. In earlier times Ford must have been much bigger and there are records of a chapel of ease. The Plough Inn is very old and was there in the days of the chapel and must have been a welcome sight to travellers over the bleak and windy wolds. A splendid turnpike milestone still stands in Ford.

Turnpike milepost at Ford

Then it was over the edge at the Coscombes and down the best gradient the road builders could find hereabouts. The descent in fact is a delight, a curving winding way through wooded glades and a leafy canopy that once provided thankful shade to the hard working horses pulling coaches up the other way.

At the bottom, the road bends sharp left and I was soon upon the cross roads at Stanway where there is a war memorial withlettering by Eric Gill, at what is locally known as The Cockpit.

The Toddington roundabout that followed once marked the end of the B4077 and the start of the A438. Now the B4077 continues until it meets the A46 at the Teddington Hands roundabout, well on the way to Tewkesbury.

After passing an interesting finger post at the Toddington turning, I soon came to the cutting where in 1860 the road was improved by straightening it. A footbridge was provided to cross the cutting, but was dismantled in the 1960s. The nearby brook or small River Isbourne was more adequately bridged at the time of the road improvements, but this eventually proved too narrow for modern traffic and was widened in 1980.