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Cotswolds Tracks and the Chalford Donkeys

Chalford_donkey_1935 (1)
Stroud from the Train
Stroud From the Train

My parents live near Stroud in the Cotswolds. The best thing about the Cotswolds, like South Wales, is the hills. It provides many higgle piggedly vistas and views. Their house is part of a modern estate in the village of Bussage at the top of a very steep hill.


I enjoy exploring the donkey tracks behind the houses. The village of Eastcombe is a 10 minute walk from their house. This is 4×4 territory, especially in winter when the steep lane are unpassable for regular car and quite treachorous for walkers too.

Chalford_donkey_1935 (1)
Chalford Donkey 1935

The other side of Bussage runs into the top (and flatter) end of Chalford. Chalford Hill and Chalford have an extraordinary number of paths (28 km within the parish as a whole), winding up the steep hillsides. They allowed workers to quickly reach the mills in the valley – a majority of the paths leading straight down. They also enabled goods to be transported up and down the hill by donkey. They were used until the 1930s to deliver bread, coal and other household items to people’s doorsteps (Jennie being the name of one of the donkeys). In fact, many front doors can still only be accessed by a winding network of ‘donkey paths’. In those times Chalford was known as ‘Neddyshire’ which derives its name from the use of donkeys.

There was a modern version of this donkey delivery that ran for 5 years from 2008 to 2013. Sadly it seems to have stopped now. The donkey delivery service was run by to Anna Usbourne and her four and eight-year-olds, Chester and Teddy. They did run the Chalford Community Store’s weekly delivery service. You can watch a video about it here. If they had ranged as far away as Bussage (one and a half miles aay up a very steep hill), I know for a fact that my mother would have been ordering her groceries from the Chalford Village shop so she could have got a visit from Chester and Teddy the donkeys! Here’s a film about them delivering the groceries in the snow in 2011.

Donkey Delivery

Jamie Doran

The Northern Irish actor Jamie Dornan, who starred in Fifty Shades of Grey and The Fall, also lives in Chalford near Stroud and my mother says he’s been spotted in the local tiny Tescos Express with Eddie Redmayne. He has to shop somewhere. Anyway, sad to say that I have never seen either of them in there!

Country Lane
Country Lane

There’s a track that leads down the hill from my parents’ house to the Ram pub. You can also drive to it as there is a single track road to it. In the field beyond the pub there lives a black horse and a donkey. I don’t think the donkey there was ever a delivery donkey.

Back of Ram Bussage
Back of the Ram


13 thoughts on “Cotswolds Tracks and the Chalford Donkeys

  1. I remember being taken on outings from boarding school in the Cotswolds – bittersweet memories!
    Jamie Doran looks a lot nicer than the creep in 50 Shades. I’ve never watched the movie or read the book, but the premise gives me the shivers – and not in a good way!

    1. I know, I am not slightest interested in the book or film either. The 50 Shades thing is just beyond me too! I wonder if it would be so popular if it was published today, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal? I think not. Doran played a serial killer in The Fall so he’s not afraid of being unpopular, I suppose!

    1. Thank you, Kelly

    2. Thank you, Kelly.

  2. Really interesting post and beautiful paintings per usual. I like the reference to Stround which also has a namesake in New South Wales

    1. I looked up Stroud NSW and i was please to see that it is surrounded by hills, as in the UK. Obviously it reminded someone of Stroud, UK. I wonder who that was. Thanks for the comment, Leonie.

      1. Emma most of the place names in the UK can be found somewhere in Australia ( and I assume NZ and Canada). Because where I grew up, in the Hunter Valley, is a big coal mining area we have borrowed names from mining districts all over the UK. I am sure that most of these were named by homesick settlers.

      2. I know that’s true of the name Swansea because we had messages of support for the City of Culture Bid from all the Swansea’s around the world (USA, Canada & Australia). What surprised me that there were several Swansea’s in the USA. Like there’d only be allowed one in a country that massive!!?!

  3. These city landscape paintings are so fabulous. I love the clear, beautiful color and the structured compositions. They convey such a wonderful feeling.

  4. mooie achtergrond informatie over de ezels

    1. Thank you!

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