This is not how Cotswolds walk!
Cotswold Way is a one hundred mile (or
so) National Trail in England,
from the lovely town of Chipping
Campden at the northern terminus to Bath in the south. And we didn’t hike a hundred miles, more like
six. We only had a half day to devote to
an adventure (this trip), so we made the best of it.
The plan called for Kurt and me to hike and Marilane and Nic to tour a stately mansion after dropping the guys off. The fact that it was raining did not deter our plans, only altered the attire. What threw the girls off track was the mansion being closed this day, so they were forced to shop!
Readers of my book already know my proclivity for mis-direction. Apparently this is an inherited trait. We were dropped off in Chipping Campden close to the information center, in the drizzle that threatened to be with us all day. Kurt had the backpack with a couple bottles of water and some snacks and we walked the block to our starting point, the information center.
Turning around thrice to get his bearings, we strode off up the street, looking for the
Cotswold Way signage. We cleared the city limits without spotting
the sign, so back-tracked and this time, Kurt went into the information center
to ask for directions, while I found the loo (bathroom) and struck up a
conversation with a cyclist. He and his
friend had planned a ride and the rain merely meant they got wet and had to be
more careful. Of course, in England, like Oregon, you could lose
half your riding days if you didn’t ride wet.
Sorry, I really don’t like water splashing in my face.
Not the least bit cowed by this unmanly asking-for-direction action, Kurt led off in the opposite direction from the first foray, and within two blocks the sign was sighted. Okay, we had our laugh and now a reasonable explanation: the information center moved from one side of the street to the other, so dead-reckoning going left from there obviously put us on the wrong track.
The Cotswolds could be called hills or small mountains, but I believe geologically they are listed as an escarpment. In any case, they are higher than the surrounding countryside, so you have excellent photo ops. Or you would if it weren’t raining. I had a camera that hardly left the protection of the pocket. Being high, in order to arrive at the actual trail, the road led UP. That got the heart rate moving and the sweat began to bead up on my forehead.
Unlike rail-trails at home, the
includes occasional highway walking, which this day was a welcome relief when
the trail turned muddy. But these
secondary roads are narrow and have no shoulder so when traffic came from both
directions we would hop into the grass.
My Vasque hiking shoes are Gore-Tex and do an excellent job of water
Soon after our sojourn into the fields, the rain stopped and allowed us (forced us, actually) to remove our rain jackets. The moderate temperature plus our exertions kept a slight film of sweat that threatened to increase if we kept our bodies enclosed. The lifting of the clouds allowed us to enjoy the picturesque countryside below us, and I released the camera from its hiding place. In truth, the picture only proved that I had been here. A few rays of sun to highlight the fields would have made a dramatic vista, but it remained overcast.
Part of the hike went through farmers’ fields. Still clueless as to the nature of the crop (almost any crop, see previous writings), I could only appreciate their dedication to the land. My appreciation turned a tad sour when we arrived at one freshly ploughed and planted field that had received copious rain earlier and became extremely muddy. The red mud clung to the shoes and left a sucking sound with each footstep. One muddy field became two and the foot coverings and lower rain pants were plastered in mud. Puddles in the next road became shoe baths and we were able to wash off most of what had accompanied us from the fields.
The signage for the
The trail came out between two houses whose owners took great pride in presenting a profusion of flowers for passersby. Perhaps they just liked flowers and didn’t care a whit about the hikers, but in any case, what a great way to complete the trail.
We ended our adventure at the pub, joining the spouses who had taken a table with a nice view of the sidewalk, with a pint of something and lunch, followed by a trip to the candy store. Ah, the candy store. This was not a new adventure, we had been here before. They have hundreds of large candy jars from which to choose. I think we must have purchased half dozen different candies. I found some caramelized ginger, which had been recommended by my acupuncturist for soothing the stomach when traveling.
What a great hike! Kurt promises a different section on our next trip.
Post-Script: Kurt's next production is the 100+ mile ultra-trail running of the Cotswold Way, the end of September (See http://www.cotswoldrunning.co.uk/page17.htm).