Cotswold Way

It has been 4 years since our last LDP and the amount of hill walking in general has reduced to just a trickle, locally on the South Downs or around the countryside where we live. Since 2014 we have seen a bit more of the world and as Rachel says, there is so much more to see and explore. However, we started to feel that if we didn’t get back to these long walks soon, we never would.

Our next walk was going to be The Offas Dyke Path as a precursor to The Pennine Way, but having looked at our holiday entitlement from work, and, how much time it would take to complete, The Pennine Way was a no go and would have to wait until we retire – early hopefully! This in turn made us query whether The Offas Dyke Path was the right one to do next. Also 4 years of very little strenuous walking made us think that perhaps we should go for something a little less taxing. The Cotswolds Way seemed to fit the bill as neither of us had been to the area for about 30 years and at just over 100 miles was doable in a week.

Once again we would carry all our own gear and stay at B&B’s or pubs along the way. All our existing kit was still in good order so no excuse to buy anything new, shame, well apart from new socks. We booked all our accommodation at the beginning of January 2018, which is rather late for us, but one pivotal B&B wouldn’t take bookings until mid-December so we had to wait. In the end we got all our preferred choices except one in Broadway. This smart village is very upper crust with most places only taking a 2 night booking, and, on a bank holiday weekend 3 nights, not exactly walker friendly.

We were planning on travelling over from Sussex on a Friday and travelling back from Bath on the following Saturday. The plan was to travel by train in the morning after the peak time rush and get to Chipping Campden by about 2.30pm. We would then do a short 6 miles to Broadway for the night. Our itinerary would see us finish in Bath on the following Friday and then we would either travel back that evening or stay overnight and come back on the Saturday. After some searching for deals on the trains it was cheaper to come back on the Friday evening, although it would mean we wouldn’t arrive back home until late.

We started our training in mid-March and all the familiar aches and pains came flooding back. The training routes and the mile after mile slog (in some instances) had that same feeling of necessity rather than enjoyment, but we knew it would pay dividends in the end. The weather during March and April was terrible and it wasn’t always easy to do the amount of training we would have liked. On one training day it was so wet that even though we had properly proofed wet weather gear we were literally wet through to the skin, even our boots were full of water – so much for the sunny south! However, we managed to get up to 17.5 miles with full packs, in 23 degree heat on the one good day, so not too bad. However, this was 2 weeks before our start date and due to family commitments no further training was done – we just hoped muscle memory would kick in when it was needed!

So, Friday 4th May arrived and off we went on what felt like a very familiar routine to the train station, fully loaded with all our worldly goods on our backs. Was it really 4 years since we had last done this? It felt like yesterday.


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