Wow it has been a while!! Life has been very busy and I’ve had no chance to write, but I’m going to make a pact with myself to get a bit more on top of my adventures – especially while so many people could use a bit of an excursion out of their daily lives! Anyways, prepare to be inundated with posts!
About a week ago, I spent 3 days walking just over 51 miles of the Cotswold Way. It’s a 102 mile stretch from the city of Bath to the small town of Chipping Campden, passing by old battlefields, neolithic sites, and along a ridge that has sweeping views of the cotswolds! With friends wanting to go to Bath for a day trip, and after having this walk in my head for a while, I decided it was finally time to do it.
Day 1 (17.91 miles): Wow, wow, wow Bath is gorgeous. The UNESCO heritage city is built around a valley, painting the green hillside with yellow sandstone buildings. It’s home to an old abbey, Roman baths, and rich Georgian architecture (I might do a post on just Bath alone!). After two days exploring Bath and spending time with my friends, I was off – giant backpack included!
The walk started at a signpost by the central Abbey (see picture below!), worked its way up the hillside and then out onto a ridge behind Bath. It was a constant climb at the beginning and from the first high point, the hills had already hidden the city – the Cotswolds are known for being hilly….
I met quite a few people on the trail, all going the opposite way to me, and all over 50 years old! Good for them! They gave great tips on places to eat and don’t-miss bakeries, plus with the clear day at hand, one man was kind enough to lend me his binoculars so I could see where I’d be walking.
It was a little hilly and there were as many forested parts as field pastures. I got stung quite a few times from stinging nettle that was overgrown and I nearly had to fight off 15 or so cows who were blocking my path and wouldn’t move. For a few miles I crossed the battlefields from the Battle of Lansdowne in 1643 (part of the First English Civil War), while later in the hike I passed Dyrham Park–– a 17th century mansion and gardens I regrettably could only view through a fence!
By the end of day 1 my legs were quite shaky and my shoulders were feeling the weight of my backpack. Food sounded amazing and once I was at the hotel I tucked into a cider, some mediocre pasta, and got myself to bed as early as possible. Not without first taking a much-needed bubble bath! A very successful first day!
Day 2 (20.19 miles): Day 2 was massively hilly and my feet paid the price–– blisters between toes!! I started early and caught the dewy grass and misty fields of the Cotswolds. Unfortunately, this also meant wet feet. Learning through mistakes, I found myself changing socks about every hour until the dew had dried up in the sun.
I had only booked the AirBnB the night before, quickly creating a daunting 20 mile walk ahead of me. I downloaded plenty of podcasts and music, but was hoping I might be able to walk and talk with someone on the route as well. There were a few people walking in the same direction as me but even after trying to start conversations, everyone seemed to want to walk alone. I continued solo too.
Nature has been scientifically proven to make people feel happier. One of the podcasts I listened to put a spotlight on this, suggesting that people not only take walks, but take walks silently. Don’t notice that the hillside is green, stare in awe that a hillside can be so green. It’s a difficult concept to explain in writing. The person on the podcast suggested taking 3 photos a day that make you feel happy, whether that’s a photo of your kids, a bug, a leaf, whatever it is, and keep that for yourself to lack back on at the end of the day. You can feel happier knowing that there is beauty and peace in the world around us.
I practiced this on the second day of my walk, shutting off my electronics and paying attention to the gorgeous hills around me. Here are my 3 photos:
The walk only passed through one town, Wotton-under-Edge. It’s situated relatively high up on the hillside, with lovely views accompanied with bakeries, art shops, and a few vintage stores. I grabbed a bite to eat and found a park bench to simultaneously eat and let my body rest for a bit. Once I was good to go it was only about two more hours until I’d arrived at my destination – Dursley!
The walk had given me views of Bristol to the left, a hillfort, and lovely wooded areas – something I didn’t think I would come across on the walk. After a hot shower, I ate, drank plenty of tea, looked at my nature pictures, and continued to edit my dissertation (walking each day to reset before another read through). I also booked my next AirBnB! Sleep came quickly and before I knew it, it was time for day 3.
Day 3 (14.97 miles): Day 3 was the best day of the walk. It was also the day I was the most sore in the morning! It felt like every step I took only moved me a few inches, and until my body warmed up, my speed was very slow.
The walk started out with a steep incline to the most beautiful ridgeway of the whole walk, with amazing, long distance views. I stayed up there for a while looking around in the cool morning air before continuing on. Up and down, then up and down, then up and down. I thought the day before was hilly, but the extremes that Day 3 provided were more intense!
The weather was ideal, and the trail had quite a few people on it. After following an older man for about 2 miles and constantly trying to catch up to him, it took a very long and steep hill to finally wave hello. We ended up talking and walking the next few miles together (me probably slowing him down) before he decided he’d turn around after a 16-mile day hike! Yeesh!
I passed a neolithic burial and a hillfort, and could see Wales and Gloucester easily by the end of the hike. I ended in a town called ‘Edge’ with lovely AirBnB hosts and a hot shower. I dressed in jeans and a jacket for the first time in 3 days and took myself out for a nice meal. I’d gotten an archaeology job! Eeeeek! And before my masters degree was even complete!
I walked (of course) to The Edgemoor Inn, which had an outdoor area with incredible views into a Cotswold valley. I did my NHS check in, wore a mask, and then sat outside to celebrate my walk and job success with a cider and Moules Frites.
The End of the Walk (for now): The next day I spent in nearby Painswick, with my friends Dave and Claire – a quintessential Cotswold village with great café’s, Inn’s, and picturesque houses. For the third walk I’ve done in the UK, it was yet another lovely view of England…this time, a hilly one! Every walk is unique, which is why I’ll keep doing these… maybe something up north next?
Sadly, the new job called me away from this path halfway through as it was time that I spent a day or two at the computer. I had to not only get my dissertation turned in, but my life a bit more sorted out! Taking applications for hiking buddies for part two! (see topographical display before submitting application).