You may have heard that joke ” I love Summer in England, last year it was on a Monday”? Well we now have our own version of that joke. “We love England in Summer, last year it was on a Tuesday”. Tuesday 19 July 2016 to be completely precise. How do I know this? because that was the day we set out to walk a shortened version of The Cotswold Way. The temperature in South West England was more than a balmy 33C, the sky an pristine blue. A total stunner of a day by all accounts, but maybe not the day to walk 24 kms carrying a pack!
The Cotswold Way is a walking trail, it runs from Chipping Campden to Bath, a distance of some 164 kms. It traverses some of England’s prettiest villages and most glorious countryside. Okay, I put my hand up to being a tad biased, we used to live here and this was a stroll down memory lane.
A little trivia for you, there are over 225,000 kms of public footpaths in England and Wales. It is the responsibly of the landowner to keep these public rights of way clear of crops (other than grass). There are also public bridleways for horse riders and cyclists but public footpaths are just for walkers. Dogs are allowed off leash except when the footpath traverses a field with livestock, so I missed our boy who was home in Oz in kennels!
There are several companies who will plan your walk for you from supplying maps to transporting your luggage. But that wasn’t for us of course, we had to do the full carry your pack thing from B&B to B&B. I have become an expert on packing light, knowing you will be carrying it concentrates your mind! As the Cotswold Way walk takes anything from 7 to 12 days to walk and we only had four days we picked a shortened route through our favourite villages. We planned to walk about 20 kms or so a day and then looked for accommodation near those points. As this is a popular walk, there was no shortage of accommodation and with the help of TripAdvisor, we narrowed down our hunt.
I could wax lyrical for paragraphs about the beauty of the scenery but I think I will let my photos do the talking for me. My English friends say there is no where more beautiful than England on a good summer’s day. And we had a few very good days!
Tips for walking The Cotswold Way
There are many self-guided walking tours for The Cotswold Way on the market who will organise it all for you. Or you can do it under your own steam like us, you can buy a book of the walk on the internet or download the maps as we did. I liked that our map showed all the walking trails, because between Broadway and Winchcombe we cheated and went on the shorter pretty Winchcombe Way. The look on the faces of those younger walkers on the “walking tour” when we beat them to Hailes Abbey was priceless!
If you are going to do it our way and carry your pack, invest in some good drip dry T-shirts, we are huge fans of the Aussie outdoor clothing company Katmandu and their DriMotion range. I also love my lightweight walking trousers that zip down to shorts, not that they did this walk with all the nettles! Good boots and a hat are essential. My trusty walking stick was best used holding up a broken sash window more than on the path itself. We did carry a waterproof and fleece (again lightweight Katmandu) because this is England after all!
Whilst there are shops along the way and great pubs, do carry plenty of water and a snack.