Cotswold Way Log
Part 1 Chipping Campden to Randwick
Tuesday 5th April 2016 Chipping Campden to Stanton 10 miles
Today we started the Cotswold Way and it was a sunny day!
Jan and I met up with good friend Al from Gloucester, spending the night at the Red Lion in Chipping Campden. We also visited the 8 Bells for a couple of beers after dinner. What an excellent pub, so busy for a Monday night and friendly too.
The Cotswold Way is 100 miles from Chipping Campden to Bath. We are using our 2 cars to move our luggage between accommodation each day.
There seem to be 2 starting points, so we did them both. True to form Al had booked us as far from the starting point as possible!
We were up and away at the crack of 10.30am. It was about 1.5 miles to the church and back, the alternative start point. Then we walked to Broadway for lunch at the Crown and Trumpet. Good beer, nice snack lunch. Interesting walking too.
We finished in the small village of Stanton at about 4pm. Unfortunately, the only pub here closed at 3pm! Al’s car was parked here so he dropped me off at the Pheasant Inn down the road while he went off with Jan to collect our car from Chipping Campden. After sorting out cars for tomorrow we checked in to the Plaisterers Arms in Winchcombe. Good beer, nice food.
Wednesday 6th April 2016 Stanton to Cleeve Hill 13 miles
My day started, as usual, with an hour or so of stretches and exercises for my bad back before going down to breakfast at 9am. It was a jolly good full English breakfast at the Winchcombe Plaisterers Arms. Jan then drove us to Stanton to start the day’s walk.
Before we started I took 3 shots of the church on my Mamiya 7 film camera, the light was better than yesterday afternoon.
From Stanton we walked back to Winchcombe. Sunny to start, then jolly heavy rain for an hour or so before Winchcombe. Just about dried off before our lunch stop. We visited the Corner Cupboard Inn for a change and a very tasty light lunch and a pint.
From here it was quite a short walk to Cleeve Hill and down to the Rising Sun, our home for the night. Good views from the window of our very comfortable room.
Jan and Al collected our car from Stanton while I had a purely medicinal pint in the bar.
We’ve walked about 23 miles in 2 days, it will be about 50 miles by the time we finish on Saturday, our fifth day. Forecast is for showers for the rest of our walk. Hoping they’re not too heavy!
Not a lot of photographs for my Mamiya 7 camera, just over 2 rolls so far – 21 shots in fact and only 4 today. I seem to be taking as many phone photos for my blog as proper photographs!
Thursday 7th April 2016 Cleeve Hill to 7 Springs 8.5 miles
After a very comfortable night at the Rising Sun in Cleeve Hill we had to don full waterproofs before we stepped out of the hotel door. It was wet and windy for an hour or so then dry and dull. Finally, it was wet for the last 20 minutes before we reached the pub. Typical!
Not a good day for photos, I only took 2 shots on my proper camera, both of the same tree. Fortunately, it was a short day, just 8.5 miles so we made it to the Seven Springs by 2.30pm. The Abbot was off so it had to be IPA to end the walking part of the day.
Tomorrow we walk to the hotel we are in tonight. That sounds a bit cock-eyed but we’re here for 3 nights, using cars to ferry us between start and finish points each day.
Friday 8th April 2016 7 Springs to Witcombe 10 miles
Today was our fourth day on the Cotswold Way. We drove back to 7 Springs this morning to resume our walk where we finished yesterday, well not exactly as the pub wasn’t open!
It was 10 miles in total, starting in the rain but mostly dry with bits of sunshine here and there.
We walked a lot of high ground south of Cheltenham (photos of Devil’s Chimney), stopping for lunch at the Air Balloon pub, before coming down to our hotel near Little Witcombe, Gloucester.
I was able to take a few proper photographs too on my Mamiya 7 camera. I’ve now taken 30 proper black and white photographs in 4 days. I’m carrying just 3 or 4 rolls of Ilford 400 Delta a day but am still not using anywhere near that number.
All of the photos in my Cotswold Way blog posts were taken with a Motorola Moto-X phone. The ones posted in black and white I also took on my Mamiya so they will be available as proper darkroom prints at some stage, the others were just phone snapshots.
Dinner was interesting. We drove to the Royal William just a few minutes from our hotel. Timothy Taylor Landlord was a pleasant surprise so I tried it a couple of times to make sure it was in good form.
The menu had some unusual meats on it including Kangaroo, Buffalo, Ostrich and Wild Boar. I had something from the Specials board, Camel and chips. I’ve had Buffalo, Wild Boar, Horse, Donkey and Chamois, for example, but I’ve never seen Camel on the menu before (we lead a very sheltered life in the Peak District!). It tasted similar to beef steak but maybe a bit more chewy.
Tomorrow is our last day for this trip. We will have completed about half of the Cotswold Way.
Saturday 9th April 2016 Little Witcombe to Randwick 11 miles
Al, Jan and I finished the first half of the Cotswold Way today by walking from Witcombe to Randwick.
Al was dropped off by his wife Carol as we are just a couple of miles from their house. We couldn’t stay with them as they now have a dog and I’m allergic to dogs, cats, horses, sheep, giraffes, etc.
We left our hotel in Little Witcombe by 10.30am. It was an 11 mile day but relatively straightforward. We passed the little church of Great Witcombe and then made our way up Cooper’s Hill (famous for the annual Cheese Rolling Competition in the past) and along to Painswick Beacon, reached in an hour or so. Should have been good views but the rain came in. We briefly watched lots of golfers getting wet as well as being entertained by a golfer chasing his runaway trolley down the hill. Fortunately for him it hit a divot and fell over just before a cliff, he was nowhere near catching it!
Lunch was in the Royal Oak in Painswick, a tasty home-cooked ham sandwich shared with Jan, washed down with an excellent pint of Exmoor Ale.
Next we headed for Randwick and the Vine Tree Inn, reaching it at 4pm, the end for this half of the Cotswold Way. I ended with a couple of pints of Hobgoblin before Al whisked us back to our hotel.
We walked 52.5 miles in 5 days managing about 14 miles to the gallon……. of beer!
I took 3 rolls of film in 5 days. Not the best return for a 5 day trip. I try not to take pictures on my film camera unless I think I can sell them so that’s still pretty good. It will add a few shots to my Cotswolds collection. I didn’t take any today, too wet or overcast.
Next year we will finish the trek by walking 52 miles from Randwick to Bath.
Part 2 Bath to Randwick
Tuesday 23rd May 2017 Bath to Cold Ashton 11.5 miles
Last year Jan and I walked, with best friend Al, from Chipping Campden to Stroud along the Cotswold Way. This year we returned to finish the job by walking the section between Stroud and Bath. In fact we decided to start in Bath and walk to Stroud so that we finish nearer to Al’s house just outside Gloucester. The total distance will be a bit over 100 miles spread over 10 days of walking.
I don’t like walking towards cities as the last day of a trek so we started by walking out of Bath heading to the hills. We started at Bath Abbey with easy walking out of Bath, past the Crescent and up to the Race Course. Then across fields and parkland.
Just past a golf course on the top of Lansdown Hill, in a field beside the trail, were several metal fantasy sculptures. Not what we were expecting to see!
Further along we came to the English Civil War battlefield of Lansdowne, 1643. Lots of blue, red and gold posts marking the battle lines and a monument to one of the commanders who was killed. Apparently this is the oldest war memorial in the UK. Not a lot of people know that!
We came down and followed the Way into Cold Ashton where we had parked a car the day before. Unfortunately there is no pub in the village so I was dropped off 3 miles north at the Crown. Jan and Al drove back to Bath to collect our car. We’re using 2 cars for moving between our accommodations at the start and end of each day, leaving a car at each end. Since I had been dropped off at a pub to wait for them I thought I should have a pint of Wadworth 6X, well it would be churlish not to.
Bit of a dull day with a few spots of rain but not enough for waterproofs. Quite warm though. Just 2 photos on my Mamiya 7 camera of Bath Crescent. The light wasn’t good enough to take more.
Wednesday 24th May 2017 Cold Ashton to Old Sodbury 9.5 miles
Cold Ashton has lots of old buildings in local Cotswold stone. The Hall and the Old Rectory were particularly striking.
Pretty, but not the most striking, countryside as we headed to the village of Tormarton and the Majors Retreat pub for our lunch stop. This is the last pub/hostelry on the route for those going south to Bath.
Fantastic lunch at the Majors Retreat in Tormarton. Huge wedge of bread and home cooked ham for the ham sandwich that Jan and I shared. 4 real ales on, Al and I both had Pigs Ear Bitter.
From here it was less than 3 miles to Old Sodbury and the end of the day. I was left in The Dog Inn drinking Wickwar BOB Bitter while Jan and Al drove back for our car.
Much better weather today, sunny and warm all day. I took just 8 photos today on my Mamiya 7 camera in Cold Ashton and of Dyrham Hall.
Thursday 25th May 2017 Old Sodbury to Alderley 9 miles
Today we walked from Alderley, near Wotton under Edge to Old Sodbury, about 8.5 miles of quite easy walking. Mostly we are walking south to north on this year’s half of the Cotswold Way but today we decided to reverse direction so that we finished the day at a pub, The Dog.
Lots of walking along the edge of fields today as well as a few historical sites. First was the Somerset monument. A tribute to General Somerset who fought at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. This is a tower almost 100 feet high. Very impressive.
This was followed by 2 Iron Age hill forts as we approached Old Sodbury. Not a lot to see except lots of earthworks but considering they were both over 2000 years old it was perhaps not surprising.
Tomorrow we walk to Dursley and then finish on Saturday near Stroud, hopefully in time to watch the FA Cup Final somewhere!
Friday 26th May 2017 Alderley to Dursley 12 miles
Day 4 and another sunny day on the Cotswold Way. We had a bit of a delayed start as I had mislaid my sun hat. No sign of it in either car or my rucsack. A quick phone call to the Dog Inn in Old Sodbury established that I had left it there after we finished yesterday. I’m not used to wearing and having to look after a sun hat in the Peak District!
Hat retrieved and we were on our way at the crack of 11.30am! In a bit under 2 hours we were back in the excellent Swan in Wotton under Edge, where we stayed last night.
After refreshments we were on our way heading up Wotton Hill, a good viewpoint from the edge over the surrounding, mainly flat, countryside. There were several ups and downs today so a bit more of what we’re used to in the Peak District. Very warm too, the car gauge registered 24°C at the start and 28°C at the end.
There was another tower monument. This time dedicated to William Tyndale, one of the men who translated the Bible. From here we dropped down to farmland for the last section to Dursley. We stayed at Underhill House, a b&b next door to the Old Spot Inn.
Saturday 27th May 2017 Dursley to Randwick 9.5 miles
The forecast for day 5 wasn’t good, showers of rain until early afternoon. We could see rain in the distance but we stayed dry and a pleasant 17°C. No need for waterproofs for any of the 5 days.
After shuttling cars around we were on our way out of Dursley. There were a few small ups and downs to get the heart pumping but nothing major. As yesterday, lots of woods to walk through with views every now and then. Came upon a carefully excavated burial mound on Frocester Hill / Coaley Peak, Nympsfield Long Barrow.
Near Stroud we came upon what looked like a new vineyard covering a large area of hillside. Hadn’t thought of Gloucestershire as a wine making area before. Then we had a bit more up before we finished the Cotswold Way at the Vine Tree Inn in Randwick. Not many people know that this is the end of the Cotswold Way! This was where we finished last year so that completed the walk for us. That made it 52 miles for this trip and a total of 104 miles for the entire Cotswold Way walk, spread over 2 trips and 10 days.
As far as the photography was concerned, I took less than 3 rolls of Ilford 400 Delta film on this year’s trip, that’s under 30 negatives. The countryside was less striking than the hills and mountains I’m more used to so I definitely had to work harder for my black and white photographs. I carried my Mamiya 7 camera with 65mm lens every day and the 43mm extra wide angle lens as well on the first day.