20 miles and 9 hours later… Hiking the Cotswolds Way

Battling fellow daily commuters, I made it home, dumped my work laptop, grabbed my rucksack and dashed out the door.

Sprinting to the station children jumped out screaming in Halloween costumes causing me to jump out my skin.

At Paddington, I had 10 minutes to grab some food. I knew Leon had a vegan menu so headed there. Trying my luck I used a lunch voucher I had. The manager wasn’t around and the staff didn’t know if the voucher was accepted. So they very kindly gave me my dinner for free! I wasn’t expecting this. It was a lovely start to the adventure.

I met my friend and we boarded a congested train to Morton on Marsh. The journey was around one and a half hours. From the station, we had a quick 20-minute walk to our air b and b.

On arrival, we were greeted by Lee who was extremely hospitable. We had a warm cup of tea together before turning in for the night. The next morning Lee had breakfast cooked for us, which was unexpected, especially as we had ordered a taxi for 8 am (rather early for a Friday morning).

Fed and watered we hoped in the taxi. Rain pelted down outside making us feel somewhat apprehensive. Our driver took us to the beginning of the Cotswolds Way National Trail. This began in Chipping Campden land-marked by a market hall built-in 1627.

The town was delightful with sandstone buildings lining the road.

We put on our waterproofs and began our hike at 8.30 am following acorn signs. The trail was well signposted. The rain eased off and the weather turned in our favor.

The sky cleared as we hiked through fields, up hills, and through forests.We made friends with horses, cattle, and sheep!

The day was extremely pleasant and the scenery spectacular. It felt so good to be walking and taking in our surroundings. Orange leaves cascaded from trees and landed in the mud beneath our feet. They crunched as we stepped by.

There was no manic rushing like I had been doing during the week in London. Instead, I felt calm and relaxed. We found a bench with our name marked on for lunch. However, it turned out to be someone’s garden and we were asked to leave by a lady and her dog. This was the first encounter we had with someone en route. The trail was mainly deserted – bliss!

A little while later we found another bench, one that we were permitted to sit on. All of a sudden apples started rolling down the hill next to us, we got extremely excited. We leaped up to take a look. The apples were followed by a middle-aged lady kicking them down the hill.

‘These apples have fallen outside my house’, she complained as she booted them away. They looked pretty nice and we couldn’t work out what the problem was.

Nonetheless, we went on our way. Still needing to walk a fair amount to our next air b and b we picked up the pace.

Being the start of winter we knew we had until just before 5 pm till darkness. To ensure we didn’t get lost we needed to be alert always looking out for the next sign. There were a couple of occasions were the signs were misleading or we missed them completely. When we didn’t see a sign for a while we simply backtracked to find the last sign and figured out where we went wrong.

In the dark, this would be somewhat tricky. So we powered on, not taking any more breaks. As the day progressed we encountered even more muddy fields.

Slosh slosh slosh our boots splattered through the dirt.As the sun began to set we found ourselves struggling through a muddy field. Each step we made we slipped back a few inches.

Rain began to fall once more. In the far distance, we could see Winchcombe town where our next air b and b was situated.

Luckily when the light completely faded we were on a road and able to use street lights to find our way.

20 miles and 9 hours later we made it to our air b and b location. We needed to grab the key from a neighbor to get in. Once we found the house we stood outside in the rain as we precariously removed our boots and wet socks.

The hot shower was amazing.

Not wanting to venture far for dinner we went into the first pub we saw. However, it was fully booked. The next few were the same! We settled for a 20-minute walk to and from a chippie (Laytons fish and chips). They had a secret vegan mushroom burger, which did the trick. At that point, anything would have tasted delicious.

We turned in for an early night conscious that we had another big day ahead.

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