The Walk

D Day – 1

We meet for lunch.

Day 1

Starting from Chipping Campden

We were a bit late starting today and managed to get away by about 10.45 after moving the cars about.  Great send off by the girls and Hugh.

The climb out of Campden came a bit early on before we had had a  chance to warm up but we we warm by the time we reached Dovers Hill.  It seemed to take a long time to reach Broadway Tower which was very busy.  The crowds were out enjoying the sunshine.  A few serious looking walkers about but not many.  Stopped to enjoy our pack lunch just below Broadway Tower.  DRAB Everett produced a special keep your bum dry pad to much laughter.  He may have the last laugh as rain is forecast for tomorrow and Wednesday.

After Broadway came a long climb up to the top of the escarpment which seemed to go on forever.  When at last it ended we had a steep drop to Stanton and then a gentle walk across to Stanway.  By the end we were all very pleased to see the car and tumble into a tea room in Winchombe for tea and crumpets.

A glorious sunny day ended with a few spots of rain just as we arrived at the hotel.

My room does not have a bath but it could be worse, at least it has a shower.

An hour rest and then off out for a meal.  I think we are going to try the Rising Sun just down the road.  We can walk or drive.  I wonder what we will do.  There will be a few stiff legs about but no other reported problems.

Just a final comment about our meal.  Perhaps 3 out of 10 but no one had enough energy to grumble too much.  Wine 0 out of 10.  Bottle left half empty.

Day 2

Before anything else I have to any apology.  Guest DRAB Jeremy is a Beach not a Beech.  He has been in training and showed a good turn of speed on both days.

Breakfast was hit and miss with some grumbles but the porridge was extremely good.

We got off to a good start this morning from Stanway amid general grumbling that we had to walk 200 yards that we had walked yesterday because of where I chose to park.  A short walk on the flat followed by a stiff climb put paid to most of the complaints but DRAB Howard took longer to forgive me than the others.

We started the day in sunshine and despite a cloud or two as the day wore on we had no rain.

Guest DRAB Breach warned us that the guide book described today as having some strenuous climbs.  We shot up the first one and were all congratulating ourselves at how surprisingly energetic we felt – much against expectations.

Again great panoramic views from the ridge to the Malverns in the distance.  The climb was worth it and the run down into Winchcombe quite gentle.  We stopped at a Tea Rooms in Winchcombe and rated it much better than yesterdays.  Green tea is becoming a popular choice and the cakes were great. Armed with sandwiches bought locally we set off again to Belas Knap, a neolithic burial chamber on the edge of Cleeve Common.  Another stiff climb. Half way up, not that we knew it was only half way,  we stopped for lunch and enjoyed the view over Winchombe.   We thought we had done “strenuous” and were looking forward to a wander over Cleeve Common to our hotel which backs onto the Common.  Today had one surprise left for us. The hardest climb of the day loomed above us.  Cruelly we reach a plateau only to find another climb, followed by another plateau and another climb…….  We were all a bit tired and pleased to reach the hotel.  Tea and cake was quickly produced for us.  I am beginning to like tea and cake very much.

At Belas Knap we met an American and his 70 year old mother also walking the Cotswold Way who we found on our return are staying in the same hotel.  We only just stayed ahead of them!

We opened a book on how many walkers we would meet walking the other way.  Rules were negotiated and a £2 bet made.  I am pleased to report DRAB Pearson at 15 walked away with £8 profit.  We don’t see many en route!

There has been much debate about where we will eat tonight.  Guest DRAB Beach has been drawing on family with local knowledge.  A good cellar seems to rate quite high on the list of requirements.  Somewhere in Broadway has been mentioned.

We arrived at the hotel about 4.30.

Now for the photos.  I hope it doesn’t take me as long to sort this bit out as it did yesterday.  It has done!!!!

From here on photos will appear on a separate daily page.

Good meal in Winchombe last night.  Wine and meal 7 out of 10.

Day 3

An early and damp start.

Woke at 5 to the news that the stock market has fallen heavily yet again and the world stock markets are in panic mode. American politics are causing this.  As they exported the sub- prime problem the least they could do is sort out their end of it without all this political  wrangling. Probably best not to watch TV for the rest of the week and just keep walking.

Off to move cars about at 7 to try and miss the traffic in Cheltenham.  Today we walk the edge of the Common with views over Cheltenham.  Jane and I have done part of this walk and the views are stunning if the weather is good.  I am not sure what we will see today.

Day 3 was predicted as being the toughest in terms of our fitness or lack of it.  The walk is not too hard with only one climb.

Well I wrote the last comment before setting off.  How wrong can you be.

We started from the Golf Course at Cleeve Hill and climbed to the highest point – 315.5m. A modest climb in the context of the days events.  Great views over Cheltenham.  Very very windy and rain threatening in the distance.

A brief shower was all the rain we had but it remained cloudy and windy.

Todays walk took us in a long loop around Cheltenham with views over the Town from many points.

Having climbed to the highest point of our walk so far we then dropped down to Dowdeswell Reservoir.  A long and fairly gently slope loosing 200m.  I mention these heights because the ups and downs of the day were very challenging. After Dowdeswell we faced a steep climb and I was ready to sit down for half an hour and have a sleep at the bottom.  Back up to 296m in short order.  The climb went on and on and on and on… saving the steepest part for last.

Finding a spot for lunch took a bit of negotiation. I will not dwell on this.  No voices were raised and we are all still speaking to one another.

A long walk around Leckhampton Hill lead us to the end of the walk at Ullenwood Manor.  There was just one problem.  The car was at Coberley, about 1.5 miles away.  How did that happen?  Small navigation problem in the car distribution exercise in the morning.  Drab Howard and I took responsibility and set off to get the car.  Greater care will be exercised in future.

Guest Drab Beach has walked himself out of his shoes and set off to Broadway to buy another pair. What we are doing will be a challenge in a new pair of shoes.

The American and his mother set off before us this morning but not long before.  It took us a long time to catch them up but they kept keeping up with us.  I hope I can walk that well when I am 70.

Drab Pearson won the walker sweep stake again with a guess of 8.  Everyone else was more and we only saw 4 and in reality none of them were walking the Way. Well why would you in wind and rain?

Not many pictures today.  See Page 3 Photo Gallery.

Off out to Cheltenham for a meal.  I need a sleep first!

Day 4

Cheltenham restaurant shut on Tuesdays.  So back to the restaurant in Winchcombe.  Another good meal.  Wine chosen by Guest Drab Beach.  I woke with a headache today but not his fault.

We had an interesting discussion over dinner and decided to walk at a slower pace and to stop when anyone wanted to look at something.

Day 4 started early for us at 7.30.  We checked out as we are moving to The Royal George at Birdlip for one night.

Now I haven’t mentioned that Drab Howard and Guest Drab Beach have been sharing a room (twin bedded) not out of choice but it was the only one with a bath.  When the bill arrived it was for the same amount for each of them that the rest of us had paid.  Drab Howard was not impressed!  I pointed out that it was wrong and a revised bill arrived – still not right.  More discussions with our host resulted in the correct bill and Drab Howard became calmer.  Apart from this incident the hotel had been ok but I suspect Drab Howard and Guest Drab Beach are looking forward to their own rooms.

We arrived at the Royal George Hotel and wonder of wonders – each rooms has a bath.  I have never wanted a bath so much in my life.

Having moved the cars to their correct destinantions we set off.  Guest Drab Beach was sporting his brand his shoes.  He said they were great all day and certainly there were no complaints.  He is very lucky if they don’t rub here and there.

The walk was good today. Not too many climbs and apart from one section dry.  Much of the walk was in woods which sheltered us from the rain.

The new regime worked well and the pace was less frenetic than on previous days.

We started at Ullenwood Manor and went through Crickley Hill Country Park.  Then we entered the woods and walked for a long way high upon the escarpment with great views over Gloucester and beyond.

We ate lunch at the top of Witcombe Hill down which cheeses are rolled chased by men who should know better.  It is very very steep and there are always injuries.

At Painswick golf course we stopped to look at the Iron Age Fort and during a short rest who should turn up but the Americans.  I think they are tracking us!  Mother looked on great form again.

I promised Drab Howard that we would stop for tea in Painswick as compensation for the extra mile we had to walk to the next stage on the walk.  The only place we could find called itself a Hotel but seemed to be a pub.  Having looked around the village we pushed on.

In a field just outside Painwsick we found a stone in a field.  On one side if announced 55 miles to Bath and on the other 47 miles from Chipping Campden.  We are not half way yet!  This caused some despondency but not for long.

I have forgotten to mention todays sweepstake.  Hw many legs would we count with walkers coming towards us.  The range was from 20 to 50 (Drab Howard).  When we had reached 18 we met a party of 24 in the woods.  There was much (some thought possibly too much) celebration by the winner who proceeded to clock up over 100 legs today. I am yet another £2 poorer.

We are all still going some with blisters, all with aches and pains but if American granny can do it so can we.

The dining committee will shortly decide if we will be eating in or out tonight.  We found a very appealing but slightly pricey restaurant in Painswick to which I suspect we might be returning.

Don’t forget to log on for tomorrows exciting report.

Now for the photos.

Day 5

Sorry about the photos last night.  Our hotel charges  for internet connection and issues vouchers and I ran our of vouchers!  They are on the blog now.

I was late arriving for the pre-dinner gathering, because I was doing this blog! On arrival I was told that we were going out for dinner.  Why I asked?  the hotel is in the same chain as The Rising Sun.  You remember that one.  Same menu and much more importantly the same wine.

Off we drove to Painswick and found a great bistro run by a Romanian couple – Cardynham House.  We ate very well.  I had roast partridge (a small brown game bird for my European visitors). All but one ended up with the Bread & Butter pudding.  Somehow I think we are going for the carbohydrates.

We are all, Guest Drab Beach excepted, snacking during the day to keep our energy levels up.  How he manages on his usual daily fare I cannot imagine. He must be using more energy than he does on a day in the office!

You will have realised by now that I am not a great typist.  Apologies for any errors.

I awoke at 4am today.  I am going to be walking for longer than I have been asleep.  At least it gave me a chance to upload the photos and update on last night.

In case I haven’t mentioned it we are walking about 12.5 miles a day.  It seems longer some days and occasionally there is a bit of mutiny in the ranks because some guide books say its longer.  As I was put in charge of navigation they have to do what I say!  Drab Howard has still not won his £20 but we are only half way.

Today there is an alternative route, one  much longer than the other.  There was some debate last evening about which one we will do.  You will know tonight.

Off to breakfast at 7.30. and we leave at 8.30 to move our bags to the next Hotel.  A lot of driving today.

Day 6

At last some sleep!

Sorry that there was no posting yesterday. It was a long day.  Well it seemed very long to me.  A  democratic decision was taken to do 14+ miles rather than our normal 12 or thereabouts.  Some of us are clearly feeling fitter.

We had a good breakfast and everyone agreed the hotel was ok and I think everyone else had a good nights sleep.  By the time we had fiddled about with the cars it was about 10.30 by the time we set off from The Edgemoor Inn.

First off we met a couple of ladies, a little older than ourselves, with full backpacks yomping away.  They passed us in short order legs and sticks going like a train.  It made me feel somewhat inadequate.

Due to two long days Iam only now, Saturday morning (early!) able to bring this blog up to date. These days are hard and I find I can only remember the pain of the day before so Day 5 is not that prominent in my mind.  I would not want to give the impression that it is all pain but it is what I seem to remember most after the event and it is what my muscles feel most at the time.  The start of each day is fine and all is ok until about lunchtime when we have been walking for about 4 hours.  Then the energy reserves drop and the last hour is very hard.

A lot of wood walking today.  The first climb lead us to Haresfield Beacon and another great panoramic view over the Severn Estuary into Wales.  I know that I apologies for the frequent view photographs but they are stunning viewpoints and it is great to be moving south so that we can see where we have come from each day looking north and where we are going coming south.

The two ladies we met on the climb up to Harsefield Beacon stopped longer than us to admire the view.  After an long wood walk we stopped to refuel above Stroud and they came  steaming past us again.  We thought that would be the last we would see of them that day.

It would be unkind to be rude about Stroud but none of us were very taken with it.

We went over the old Stroudwater Canal which still has water in it but it has not been restoored and is not navigable.  I believe that there are plans to restore it.

None of us wanted to do the long route when it came to the time to make a decision which was just as well judging by how we felt at the end of the day.

A small moment of confusion arose when the map said take a right but the sign said go left.  We concluded that someone had turned the sign around!

We stopped for lunch on the hill on the other side of the valley above Stroud and who should over take us again – the two ladies.  I suspect they had found a tea shop for lunch.  This time we did not see them again!

The afternoon was a long long walk in the woods after a steep climb out of the Stroud valley.

Yet another neolithic burial ground followed by Hetty Peglers Tump.  I will read up about Hetty in the guide book and add something later.

From Hetty Peglers Tump Guest Drab Beach spotted a large mound in the distance and announced we would be going over it.

After a long drop.  It is all steep climbs and long drops this Walk arrive and what I thought was close to or destination.  The mound loomed close by and I assured everyone that we would not have to go over it. I was wrong.  As we climbed it thank goodness the bull kept sleeping because there is no way any of us could have run away.  Guess what.  Another great view from the top.  I am still inspired by the views and the effort is still worthwhile.  Five very tired men arrived at the car park in Dursley very late in the day.

We had left our baggage in the cars so we had to drive back to Birdlip. It was about 5pm when we arrived and there was a lot of traffic on the road.  I made an executive decision to use the motorway to get to Chipping Sodbury.  We called the hotel to let them know we would be late so they did not let our rooms go.  It was dark, about 7pm by the time we arrive but we found the hotel was very comfortable.  Drab Pearson was awarded the only room with a bath because he is suffering with his feet. Showered and stumbling around with aching legs we mustered at 8pm and went looking for somewhere to eat.  We ended up in the local Italian restaurant where Drab Beach lasped into fluent Italian which impressed us all.  I gratefully refuelled with pasta and we enjoyed the meal and the beer as a well earned reward for the efforts of the day.  So to bed and a good nighsts sleep.

Day 6 – the walking day.

Something of a sad day.  Drab Parson’s blisters forced him to retire. Guest Drab Beach gallantly agreed to take him back to the hotel and meet us along the way.

The day started, as most days seem to, with a steepish climb up to Stinchcombe Hill where there is a alternative route, one a bit longer than the other.  Drab Everett and I decided to yomp the longer route and we were rewarded with yet more stunning views.  Now we could see the new Severn Bridge quite clearly in the distance.

Then on to North Nibley where we met up with Guest Drab Beach. Then followed the steepest climb yet.  It is so steep it has steps all the way up to the top where Tyndale Monument is to be found.  Again more about that later. In passing I could mention the view which was stunning.  None of us wanted to climb the stairs to the top of the tower.

We pressed on to Wooton under Edge.  A pretty town with some old and attractive buildings.  The route took us through the town itself.

A very old doorway had a sign inviting us to enter and look and the chapel.  Unusually we took up the invitation and entered a small cobbled courtyard surrounded by almhouses with a small chapel in the middle. It was a calm and quiet place and we rested there for a while and Drab Everett took the opportunity to treat a sore spot on his foot.  We are all paying particular attention to our feet now.  No pain is ignored or goes untreated.

Towns are built in valleys and valleys are surrounded by hills.  So we climbed yet again out of the valley and over the hill and down again the other side via a sunken track.  The sun was going down and the day became quiet.  Sunlight danced through the trees and it was a good bit of the day. We reached Wortley and saw Alderley in the distance where we had left the car.  It was good to arrive at the car.  The hotel gave immediate relief by way of a hot shower and off out for a meal at the local Thai restaurant. It was yet another good meal.

At the end of the meal Drab Pearson told us of his decision to abandon the walk because of his blisters. We all now know what walking with sore feet although I don’t think anyone else actually has a fully developed blister.  It was a sad moment because we have all come a long way together and leaned a great deal about ourselves as people. Funny what walking together for a few days can do.

Now I must prepare for Day 7.

Day 7

We parted company with Drab Pearson after breakfast with sorrow.  He is to train home this morning.  We shall miss him.

Today we walk from Alderley to Dyrham.  I had this down as just over 14 miles but Drab Everett’s guide book said 15.2 miles.  The start was quite level through meadows as we climbed towards Somerset Monument. We followed a babbling brook for some time and enjoyed its company.  The terrain became steeper as we closed in on the Monument.

This Monument was erected as a tribute to a soldier who fought at the Battle of Waterloo.  For those not steeped in English history this is one of Great Britain’s finest moments when we beat the French and Napolean. How fitting that a Monument should be erected in memory of the event.

On to Horton Court through a great parkland expanse and then a climb to Horton Fort.  Instead of panoramic views today we had forts.  Next came Little Sodbury Fort and then the motorway.  Having been on foot for 7 days avoiding cars where possible we had a chance to reflect on the follies on mankind rushing about madly as we crossed a bridge over the motorway.

It began to rain about 4 miles from our destination.  The wind and the driving rain made the rest of the walk something of an ordeal.  We were most relieved to arrive at Dyrham House and the car.

After collecting Guest Drab Beach’s car we returned to our hotel for a well eraned shower and rest before dinner.  Well some were able to get a rest!

The sweepstake today was the time of arrival at the car at Dyrham.  I must modestly confess to having won with three minutes to spare.  It was a bit close.

Tonight at dinner I have authority from all the other Drabs to offer Guest Drab Beach full membership of Drabs.  He has earned it in many ways and not just because he has been very good company.  Sadly he has to leave us in the morning in time to catch a flight to Malta. We shall be a depleted band that reaches Bath tomorrow.  I suspect that the walk into Bath is over some uninspiring countryside if the last part of todays walk is anything to go by.  However we have the goal of Bath Abbey in our sights and that will spur us on.  The forecast for tomorrow is for heavy rain.

We have been very lucky with the weather this week as we appreciated today.

Now for a few photos.

Day 8 – The last day!

One important update to start with. Guest Drab Beach accepted the offer of full membership of Drabs and became our Maltese representative.  We parted company with him with much sorrow at 9am when he left to catch is plane.  Three Drabs continued alone.

I am sorry that you have had to wait a couple of days for this.  Work and other family commitments has stopped me from writing this up until Tuesday evening. It is surprising just how quickly you slip back into an old routine and the memory of a most memorable week begins to fade.

Day 7 had some bleak bits but interspersed with very attractive countryside.  I wish i could say the day about the walk from Dryham to Bath.  It rained heavily to begin with and the ground was muddy making it harder to walk.  The route wandered here and there without any apparent purpose through uninteresting countryside.  The first sight of Bath was thrilling but only because we had walked so far to see it.  From above it looks much like any other City.  The initial walk through the City took a route which went uphill and down again for no obvious reason other than to try and avoid roads.  No views.  No interesting houses.  The uphill parts seemed to add insult to injury after 100 miles.  In the past an uphill climb had been rewarded by a spectacular view.  So spectacular that we became blase about them after a time.

At last we reached The Royal Crescent.  I have lived in Bath and so know the City well but even I was impressed.  Then onto The Circus and then Queens Square.

My hotel room had no plug for a shaver and as a result I had not shaved for three days.  We were all a bit muddy and contrasted sharply with the smart Bathonians going about their Sunday shopping.  We walked with pride through the crowds into The Cathedral courtyard.  We searched in vain for something to denote the end of The Cotswold Way so we had to be satisfied with touching The Cathedral.

A taxi took three tired but satisfied men back to our car for the drive home. We were more than a little sad that Drab Pearson and Drab Beach could not be with us to enjoy the moment.

Valerie Everett had prepared a great supper for us where we were reunited with Drab Pearson and joined by our wives.  We greatly appreciated both the food and the company.  A fitting end to our enterprise.

An interesting reaction followed the next day.  I was cold all day and slighty light headed.  I can only assume that this was some kind of reaction to the physical effort of the walk.  Thankfully it soon passed.

Work seems a bit tame.

I learned a lot about my walking companions in eight days that I had not understood in knowing them for well over eight years.  It was a wholly rewarding experience that I can recommend to anyone.

I will end with some tips for anyone contemplating a long distance walk

Do’s

Don’t

Thats it now.  Nothing more to say except to apologise to those who made comments.  I had no time spare to answer as every free moment was taken up trying to get the blog up and running. At the time was not sure it was a good use of time but I hope all the Drabs will look at it once in a while and reflect with some pleasure what we achieved.

Drab Lloyd

8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    fabio said,

    5 men and no boat …

  2. 2

    jane said,

    Heard from John Newbery that the Cotswold Way doesn’t start in Chipping Campden but somewhere around Idlicote. Does this mean you have to start again? x

  3. 3

    drabsociety said,

    You tell John Newbery that he’s wrong. I have the photo to prove it!

  4. 4

    drabsociety said,

    The author of this blog is no J K Jerome!

  5. 5

    Elizabeth Everett said,

    I am wondering if DRAB Everett had anything to do with the lengthy lunch spot deliberations…
    It looks as though you are all having a fantastic time. A little tip from DRAB Everett junior- if you see a Boots, they sell a little chap stick type of thing that prevents blisters. I have a feeling you may need it!
    Also, my colleagues are very impressed that you have a blog.

  6. 6

    valerie said,

    exactly what sort of interesting was your discussion over dinner on day 4? I am glad to hear it has resulted in a slower pace and greater appreciation of the scenery. Are you sure Jeremy isn’t snacking inbetween? I think you should check his rucksack for contraband?

  7. 7

    Elizabeth said,

    What a shame DRAB Pearson had to retire! I’m glad to read that apart from this and the aches and pains you are all having a wonderful time walking the Cotswold Way. I have really enjoyed looking at the photographs. I suggest you get DRAB Everett on the case of what he does best- getting a discount for no good reason- this will allow more money for Kendal Mint Cake which you obviously need. Enjoy the end of the walk!!x

  8. 8

    pamela said,

    I’m impressed by the mental and physical endurance required. No prizes from me. Virtue is its own reward!! It sounds wonderful, even the suffering, and I’m envious. Hope the heavy rain forecast does not defeat you at the last knockings.


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