Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Cotswold Way - Day 1

Thursday, June 25, 2015   
Chipping Campden to Broadway
5.75 miles with 634' of ascent

OK - everyone ready? Boots shiny, waterproofed and ready for the off? 
Oh... neat; new boots eh? 

It's the start of a new adventure for Pam and me and we're SOOOO pleased to have you on board with us to share the fun, the trials and the tribulations of a 100 mile walk through some of England's best countryside.

We start at the official start - by the ancient Old Market Hall in the lovely old town of Chipping Campden. The start coincides with another long-distance walk which passes through the town and one that we did a few years ago; The Heart of England Way.

Our plan for this walk is slightly different to our Severn Way walk which you may have followed. We aim to do this in 3 phases each of 5 or 6 days, each day averaging around 6 miles which is plenty when there's so much to see and explore en route. We'll be staying in a different B and B for each phase. Our first base is in the lovely hamlet of Postlip at the remote and charmingly rural Postlip Hall Farm, which is almost a mile drive along a farm track. It's in an idyllic spot surrounded by fields full of sheep, in fact it's a working farm with currently 3200 ewes and lambs! Apart from the sheep it's really quiet, and at night there's no light pollution whatsoever. Superb!

So this is the first phase consisting of 5 days walking culminating at Dowdeswell Wood some 29 miles and nearly 4000 ft of ascent away. 

When we walked the Severn Way we chose to use public transport as much as possible relying only occasionally on using the car. Having checked out transport facilities some time ago for The Cotswold Way I quickly realised it would be too big a challenge! Train stations are few and far between and most of the route is way off any bus routes. So - although not very green - we're using our 2 cars and shuttling them around from B and B to walk finish to walk start. It's the most convenient but I'd be the first to admit not the most eco-friendly method.

Anyway... onwards, best foot forward and all that!

Walking out of Chipping Campden we pass a lovely thatched and typically Cotswold cottage, but this one's a little different as it was, for a short time, the home of a famous English author.

It's not long before we're climbing up Dover's Hill with great views of Cotswold country. Pam has never been a lover of walking uphill, often soldiering on but continually moaning not quite 'under her breath' which I find mildly annoying and somewhat distracting when I'm enjoying the climb and the views as each step takes us higher. But... I've found a way of avoiding this; I keep far enough ahead and just out of ear-shot! Bliss!

She's happy enough when she reaches the top though!

Dover's Hill is where back in 1612 a Robert Dover started the fancifully-titled Olimpick Games which became very famous in their day and continued on an annual basis through to Victorian times when they were halted. 100 years later, in 1951, the games were resurrected  and still happen here every year where a castle is built as the base for such games as shin-kicking (ouch!) and sack racing, where participants are tied into a sack up to their necks! Sounds more fun than the real Olympic Games!

Descending the other side of the hill and looking closely at the map I was expecting to walk on hard Tarmac for quite a way, but a lovely path has been created following the edge of a field on the other side of the hedge. A pleasant surprise.

On then to something called The Mile Drive which is a long straight and wide path alongside an interesting hedgerow (i.e. teeming with wildlife of the small insectoral kind) and an equally interesting narrow meadow bordered by another hedge. 

Lots of bees, butterflies and other insects. It's great to see so many wild flowers too including the pretty Common Spotted Orchid.

And on to Broadway Tower high above the beautiful village of Broadway.

The privately owned tower was built as a folly in 1799 and stands on a hill over 1000 ft above sea-level with dramatic views (it is said) over no less than 16 counties. It was purchased in the 1980's by a German man whose daughter now owns it. She also owns and runs an upmarket, exclusive B and B in Broadway.

Down hill now to explore this lovely village. On the way we stop to admire the work of the dry-stone waller, a highly-skilled job necessitating many years of theory and practical exams before achieving the accolade of Master Craftsman. This particular area has been under restoration for at least 2 years and will continue until all of the existing and crumbling dry stone walls have been replaced right up the hill to the tower.

Finally we reach our day's end at The Swan for a pint and well-earned rest. The village of Broadway is often referred to as the  'Jewel of the Cotswolds' and the 'Show Village of England'. It's not hard to see why!

Tonight, we decide to eat at a pub/restaurant in Winchcombe, just a couple of miles away from our B and B and recommended by Valerie - our lovely landlady. It's called the Corner Cupboard and tonight is Steak Night; 2 sirloin steaks plus all the trimmings for just £22. Great value and an excellent end to an excellent day.

Catch you all soon for Day 2.


Walking Companions
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The more the merrier! I know we've said before we often walk on our own but you're so quiet we hardly notice you're there. It's only at the end of each day you tend to make a comment, and talking of comments;-

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