Cotswold Way September 2014

After completing the WHW last September I was keen to book this year's adventures. I got WHW for April/May booked straight away and finally decided to go for The Cotswold Way this September, The thinking was that it would form part of LEJOG. Finishing The CW I could then link up with the Heart of England Way which would get me through the midlands to hook up with The Trent and Mersey canal. I knew it was going to be a tough one compared to WHW and Great Glen Way, you only have to look at the elevation profile to see how many ups and downs it involved.There is only a couple of thousand feet more ascent than WHW, but believe me, it feels like a hell of a lot more. I could safely say after doing it that the WHW in comparison is a cakewalk, A doddle. A walk in the park.
Plus of course I would be walking it in reverse, south to north rather than north to south. This seems to me at least, a much better way of doing it. Both walks in Scotland have finished in busy places, Fort William and Inverness which whilst nice enough places in themselves are a bit of a shock to the system after being out in the wilds for a week. Even crossing the A82 a few times on both walks seems like an intrusion. You can descend from some nice, peaceful woods or a gentle path and be confronted by cars seemingly flying past at horrendously high speed, even though they're only going about 60.
Plus of course this keeps the sun at your back for most of the day. The week turned out to be hot, too hot for my liking, the sun was blazing down for most of the week and having it in your face all day isn't very conducive to having a good view ahead, or for picture taking.
My original idea had been NOT to include the CW as part of Lejog, I knew it was going to be tough going and a much easier alternative lay a few miles to the west, ie the Severn Way, which again would link me up to the canals of the midlands to head north. I can now say that I do not think the CW will form part of Lejog when i come to do it in one go. Yes it's very nice and all that, some beautiful villages are to be found and some great vistas to be seen, but in terms of covering ground at a reasonable lick, it isn't the best option by a long chalk. I confess now quite openly that as you read this blog you will discover that many shortcuts where used. Crazy 3 mile escarpment hugging meanders were missed out, when the shorter alternative was a 100 yard straight walk across a golf course which brought you said 3 miles further along the walk, Stinchcombe hill being a prime example.
I make no apologies for this, it was never my intention to stick religiously to the route.Obviously the point of the walk was to connect the dots of Lejog, to find a route north. I probably shaved 10 miles from the official  route, and much unnecessary puffing and panting up steep hillsides.

Day 0

Although the train trip up to Scotland in some ways has been part of the adventures so far, it was nice to have a much shorter journey to get to Bath. Leaving home on the 815 train I was in Bath by dinnertime, sat outside a little tea shop, by the Abbey, enjoying a cream tea in the sun

.Cream tea

Minding my own business I looked up to see Joe Wilkinson from 8 out of 10 cats walking past with his partner.
I gave him a nod and a quiet thumbs up to show my approval, getting a nod, smile and hello back. It's true when they say the camera adds 10 pounds, as he seemed a lot thinner in real life than on the goggle box. As he passed I thought that I should get him to sign my rucksack but the moment had gone and so had he. The last 2 WHW's I'd been getting fellows walkers I'd met and interacted with during the walk to sign my bag with a sharpie. I'd retired the bag after the last one, needing a slightly bigger bag and I'd run out of room for signatures!
Wandering around town I saw him three more times, each time however accompanied by lots of people whispering as he passed, "that's him off the telly" and a few shouted comments. I had no intention of accosting him at these times to sign said bag, as I imagined that would be the last thing he wanted. 
I'd opted for an Osprey bag 44 Litres. Lots of straps here there and everywhere for tying tents, sleeping mats etc. Well built but with no raincover, My raincover for my previous bag, a Karrimor 35 ltr, fitted just as well anyhow. The big difference between the two was the Osprey had a semi-rigid back panel which my water bladder slotted behind, keeping it out of the main compartment. I learnt that it was easier to sort the water out before packing the bag as with a full bag it was quite a tight fit, trying to get the bladder in.
Anyway after an hours or so wandering around town I thought I'd head off to the youth hostel to divest myself of my bag and return to town later for some tea and such like.
Checking my map on my phone I thought I knew which way to go and headed off, maybe walking a mile or so until checking my phone again to get my bearings, i discovered I'd gone in completely the wrong direction, heading south west instead of East. Doh...
I ended up having to retrace my steps more or less back to the Abbey for a rerun. This time heading in the right direction I sauntered up a wide road with tall Georgian terraced houses, looking quite resplendent in the sunshine. Pretty soon I came to the road the Youth hostel was on. This wasn't the end of the matter though as I now had a steep, nearly 1 in 4 hill to climb to reach it. Stopping on a bench after a few hundred metres I cursed whoever's decision it had been to open the youth hostel on top of this mountainside. Finally, gasping, I reached the Youth Hostel, a Victorian Villa by the looks of it. Tired looking, it obviously was undergoing some refurbishment, as evidenced by the builders skip outside the front and a load of broken down pine beds leaning against the wall on the side.
Checking in, I was directed to the first and not the last on this trip, attic room, which involved four flights of stairs, the last three being obviously old servants stairs. Tight, narrow and twisting I had to keep ducking my head to avoid the ceiling. Getting in my room I saw the refurbishment hadn't reached this far as yet as the two single beds were of the aforementioned pine variety. The legs all going off at crazy angles, they didn't look to be of the sturdiest construction. The room was bare, save for a sink which, due to the two flights back down the the bathroom I decided would double as a little boys room. It had two balconies, one quite large, to the front, which offered a somewhat obscured, but still nevertheless pleasant Vista of Bath below. unfortunately the doors where locked to this one, instead the second balcony, which offered a slightly different view of broken down pine beds leaning against the wall and a wall of trees 20 yards away. Also the actual balcony was only about one and half foot from front to back, so getting on to it was a bit of a squeeze. Still it offered a place to have a crafty fag outside without having to descend all those stairs. There wasn't a great deal to do with myself here so I repaired downstairs, back to reception, to be disappointed with " no Coke " only Pepsi" which seems to be my lot when going on walks. I settled for a J20 orange and passion fruit bottle. This after ringing the bell probably 6 times and waiting what seemed like an eternity, but was probably 10 minutes for someone to appear. The place seemed deserted, it looked like I was the only one staying tonight. Availing myself of the garden I had a smoke and drink while waiting for a taxi I ordered to take me back into town. Yes I could of walked into town, a 20 minute sojourn, but couldn't be bothered at that time.

                 My room was the top right open window.

Getting dropped off back at the Abbey at about 3 o'clock I wandered aimlessly around the town centre, going in various shops to peruse their offerings, buying nothing save for a selection of quarters in an old fashioned sweet shop down a cobbled back alley. Dandelion and Burdock, aniseed balls and for the life of me I cant remember what a third item.
Continued wandering continued. Up and down steep streets, around the shopping precinct, which was housed in old, but spotlessly clean, Georgian buildings. Not for the last time on the walk I was offered great photo opportunities, only to be thwarted by a mass of people or some modern signage.
It was about 6 ish when I decided I'd better start the whole wandering process again, this time to find somewhere to eat. It must have been 2-3 hours of more up, down and roundabout, looking at the displayed menus outside, rejecting one because they wanted £3 for a sauce on my planned steak, that's on top of the twenty squid they wanted for the steak, others, either because of prices "That's too expensive" or "Looks a bit grotty" or still others because it was a Saturday night and I could here lots of shouty pissed people enjoying themselves inside, before I finally settled on one with a french name, not too big, fairly quiet inside, perfect. 
Sitting I ordered a Coke, which they had, and opted for the steak and mushroom sauce.
It came, a really nicely cooked steak with a delightful sauce, a bowl of chips. That's it, nothing else. No mushrooms, salad or any other accompaniments . That being said it was very good so I wasn't complaining. I wrote up the days events while I ate. I have an ulterior motive sometimes when writing up whilst eating, hoping that the place will think " oh, he must be a reviewer, we better look after him", but they didn't bring out the hot towel and complimentary bottle of bubbly.Oh well, there you go.
Paying up, some more random wandering occurred until I decided to head back to the Hostel about 9 o'clock. A taxi was the order of the day, there was no way I was going to drag my sorry arse back up that hill. There was still no-one around when I got back. A couple of fags on the balcony and a final sort of my bag saw me in bed at about half ten.

Day 1  Walking 9.15-5.15

Well so much for having the place to myself then. I was woken up, must have been around two in the morning by a gaggle of pissed up residents returning, who then stayed outside in the garden, shouting and screaming and generally being the type of dickheads who keep you awake all night. English obviously as we seem to excel at this sort of thing. Nodding off, an hour later the same procedure recurred. Another bunch turned up following the same pattern. I was in half a mind to open the balcony door and give them a few choice words but demurred and stayed in bed.
The bed as I stated earlier was extremely wobbly on its skewhiff legs but was paired with an extremely comfy firm mattress. The other downside to said bed was the bedside light, if you could actually call it that, was a plank nailed to the head of the bed frame with a plastic covered light attached. This was placed about 6" above my head so getting up you had to avoid banging your head on the light. It wasn't helped by the fact that the plastic cover was broken at the fixing point and consequently the slightest movement found it swinging down and basically ending up 3" from your face.
Going down for breakfast, which was extremely mediocre, extremely cheap coffee, I was confronted by a packed dining room full of every nationality. Where they had all come from I have no idea as I didn't see a soul the previous evening.
Mediocre breakfast finished I checked out, taxied, as was my want back to the Abbey, desperate for a decent coffee before setting off. As Luck would have it the first shop I saw was a well known coffee house so I went large and at the same time got them to fill my flask with the filtered variety.

          Bath Abbey

 strolling back to the Abbey, I sat on a bench, had a smoke and steeled myself for the walk ahead.
Final checks saw me getting my maps sorted for the day and setting the camera up. Mapping wise, at the beginning of the year I'd taken the plunge and got myself the full UK OS landranger map CD from Memory Map.I'd tried it a couple of times with the free map provided and hadn't been too impressed. After researching options though it did seem the best option from them all. Luckily a fellow walker, you can find him on T'internet as Lonewalker, had a very good in depth dummies guide to the whole process which helped enormously with finding my way around the software. After much trial and error I managed to get my maps on and spent many hours playing around with it. Another helpful resource is LDWA, a walking website with hundreds of walks on it, most of them with a  Memory Map route file on there so rather than having to plot the route yourself you can just download it and stick it on your maps. You can look at the elevation profiles for walks and re-route if you want to avoid that killer climb.
Another good thing is you can print your selected route on to whatever size paper you want at any scale. I followed Lonewalkers advice and set the scale to 1:17000 which on A5 paper, for the whole walk takes 39 sheets. Sounds a lot but for the same clarity i would have needed at least four OS landranger maps and I  would have spent the week squinting at the map, probably having to use a magnifying glass, to see the route. At 1:17000 scale it was clear as a bell. I would put the days walk in a very thin lightweight wallet, which I kept in the cargo pocket of my trousers, the remainder went in my pack in a waterproof pouch, alongside all my other bits and pieces, Battery charger, rizlas, notebook etc.
Camera wise, I'd left my own digital camera at home, having been lent a GoPro Hero 3 from a friend. It came with a chest harness arrangement which meant I could go hands free. I'd set it to take a picture every minute, buying a 32Gb micro sd card to make sure I had enough memory. I turned it on and arranged myself.
Well it was time for the off. After doing the walk now, I realise I could quite easily of started by throwing my maps away, picking the steepest road out of town and walking up it, getting to the top and then picking the steepest route up the steepest hill I could see, go to the top and just repeat ad infinitum for a week, but I didn't know that at this point.
I reached The Circus, an impressive circle of Georgian housing, with a round garden in the centre. Again, it was impossible to get a decent pic because of all the cars parked round and more modern signage.

The Circus

Turning left I entered The Royal Crescent. A very imposing edifice, a lot bigger than I was expecting it to be. Walking over the grassed lawn lower down the slope I took the best pics I could before entering the Royal Park

The Royal Crescent

And again

. Bearing right, up a slight incline I came to the first of my upcoming shortcuts. The choice, straight over the road and then a steep climb out of the town, through a golf course then to the left for a mile or so before descending back down to the road I was about to cross, OR, turn left along same said road for a level walk of a mile or so to Weston. Well the choice was simple and didn't need much thought, so left I so sauntered. 20 minutes later I came to Weston and a Tesco express which I thought would be a good place to stock up on Rizlas and a couple of lighters, unfortunately it was 930 and a Sunday so no luck, it was shut. Damn and blast.
Across the road and up a lane, i left civilisation behind and started up Weston Hill. A grassy slope, not too steep but steep enough for me soon had me huffing and puffing, stopping to look back as I rose higher. I could hear distant sounds of Sunday football, which followed me for the next, it must have been 3 hours. Reaching the top the path levelled off a tad, giving me a breather. I spied a woman a couple of hundred yards ahead, heading the same way as me. I set myself the goal of catching her up to see if she was doing what I was doing but never saw her again.

On top of Weston Hill

Nice flat bit

 The path rose again to the top of Weston Round Hill, it had be gasping again. Passing a field with animals in it. I greeted them with a hello dog, er sheep, er beef, err Cow! It took four go's but I got there in the end. More ascent brought me to Prospect Stile where a couple were enjoying the views. There was room on the bench so I joined them. They were keen walkers themselves and we swapped stories. Me as ever extolling the brilliance of the West Highland Way and Scotland in general. I waited until they left 10 minutes later before lighting up a smoke and having a coffee. The view was pretty good indeed, only problem was it was still quite hazy in the distance so couldn't see as far as I should have been able to.

The view from Prospect Stile

Leaving over the Eponymous stile I was now on top of the hill proper. A large flat mesa which encompassed Bath Racecourse and a golf course. A shortcut was in order here, instead of bearing left for half a mile then right for the same I just cut straight across via a public right of way which took me alongside a little wood where i met a family and dogs coming the opposite way. The young lad, about 10, turned to wish me well on my walk, for which I smiled and told him the same.. This shortcut took me to a B road, which after crossing brought me to Landsdowne Hill Battle site. There was a monument to the battle but not much more to see from the path which winded through some woods.

Landsdowne Monument

 A short easy rise along a field brought me to a stone stile/ gate affair which looked ancient. The valley below looked very nice, the path winded down through pasture. It was at this moment the GoPro camera emitted 3 or 4 beeps, looking down it had switched off. Dead battery, damn and blast. Three and half hours it had lasted. It was meant to last one and half hours on video so was kind of expecting it to last all day on one pic a minute. plus it was showing 134 pics taken not 210 which was what it should have showed for that time frame. Oh well, I removed the harness and stowed it in my bag, putting the camera in the hip pocket of my rucksack, reasoning I could still take some good quality pics with it when needed the rest of the days.

Last shot with GoPro

A gentle stroll down the pasture brought me through a gate, another field then a nice bench presented itself begging to be used. I didn't disappoint it and had a brew and a smoke, whilst contemplating the hillsides in front of me, knowing I had to go over them to get to Cold Ashton where I was hoping to spy a coffee shop or anything really come to think of it. Setting off I was soon out of breath, rising once again through more fields, this time and for the first but not the last time confronted by a herd of cows, viewing me with cold dead eyes, tails swishing back and forth.I could see the gate just past them and veered to the right a bit to give them a wide berth. I quickly backtracked as the ground dropped to a fence here and long tufty grass hid a very boggy area filled with deep divots courtesy of many cow foot prints. Just escaping this morass without getting to much crap on my boots I reached the gate and escaped. Another field then I was onto a concrete road which rose sharply, from the map it was rising for the next mile or so to Cold Ashton. Many stops and deep breathing followed. About half way up, passing Hill Farm on the right, a woman in the grounds approached the road smiling at me. I pulled my headphones out as I had turned my Mp3 on as I started the climb, Music seems to make going up an hill easier. We said hello to each other, her asking if I needed more water. Very nice of her and I agreed to a top up, although there wasn't a lot missing. She came back and invited me to sit at a little table and chairs just inside the gate which was very kind. She introduced herself as Marie, with me asking jokingly if they also had any ice creams to which she said yes they had some lemon sorbets. The expression I gave told her the answer and she went off to get one. We had a chat while I partook,


She had done Lejog herself on a pushbike back in the 90's. We had an enjoyable conversation for 10 minutes then she had to go to finish some housekeeping. All in all it was a very pleasant interlude from hill climbing. Well off I set to finish the climb to Cold Ashton, having to cross a main road, the A46, which depressingly had a road sign pointing south with Bath 6 miles on it. It felt, after the mornings exertions that I should be further away, although lets not forget, I'd been twisting this way and that all morning so not a surprise really. Entering Cold Ashton, a few houses, a grand house with an impressive frontage, it reminded me of Marie, she also possessing an impressive frontage.
Opposite the house was a chained off area, a viewing platform really of the valley and hills, a beautiful stone wall on the edge of the drop.

 Impressive frontage

Another A road crossed then diagonally across a harvested field back to cross the A46 at Pennsylvannia where a garage gave me the chance to grab some lunch in the form of a sandwich and a Coke, plus a Marathon for good measure, I refuse to call them Snickers!
Leaving the garage, I determined to find somewhere nice and quite away from this busy metropolis to have a seat and a scran. I say metropolis, it was about 4 houses and the garage, but believe, it doesn't take long to get used to being away from civilisation and when you come across it you want to get away from it ASAP.
A brisk walk up a lane and along a field edge, across a b road, another field found me entering a little patch of wood, descending down. Serendipity presented a bench in the woods by the path, nicely shaded from the full sun which had been beating down all day.

A welcome lunch spot

I enjoyed a leisurely repast, a tuna sandwich and a refreshing Coke. On the other side of the path a box was fixed to a post, a sign inviting people to add comments to the pad inside. Staring at it I had a Schrodinger's Cat moment, wondering what was really in there. If it was dead or alive? I finished my sarnie and with some trepidation lifted the lid, to my relief it was just a writing pad, double wrapped in plastic bags and in a Tupperware tub for good measure, along with a handful of pens.
I added my own thoughts as to the walk so far, can't remember what they were!
Fully sated I was back off across pasture after leaving the woods, climbing slowly over the shoulder of the hillside before reaching another B road, which I followed for a few hundred yards, passing Dyrham Park, a palatial pile set in a deer park. Peering through the wrought iron gates I took a couple of pics of the house and garden, lots of people were enjoying the gardens, picnicking and the like.

Dyrham Park

 Entering more fields, more cows were to be avoided, but they were a distance away and stayed that way. just through a gate a couple of ladies who must have been in their eighties came in my direction, a couple of small dogs with them, who barked as they approached. I got down to their level and gave them a good ear scratching which made them happy. Chatting with the ladies for 5 minutes I learnt they had just been to sort their beehives. One of them had a walking pole, which was very short, she was using more as a leaning on stick. She asked if mine helped me which I confirmed. Hers she said was a pain because the bottom pole kept dropping out when she lifted it up. I quickly sorted it out by the simple expedient of tightening it up at the desired height and she was over the moon with the result. We said our goodbyes and glad I'd helped I moved on, passing a herd of deer on the other side of the wall surrounding the park.


Lots more fields, low scrub after harvesting were next, before bearing to the right, through a little wood before, for the third time, I came across the A46, just shy of the motorway. A large layby with a few picnic tables, there was crap everywhere, food litter, condoms, general detritus which lazy bastards cant be bothered putting in the amply provided bins. It really was shocking the amount of crap that was all around. I quickly moved on, over the road into more arable fields, knowing I was close to the end of the day at Tormarton.
Finally coming out on a B road which went over the motorway I entered the village, passing a few modern houses before entering the village proper. Lots of Cotswold stone was in evidence. No traffic, it was a pleasant place to be. Bearing left I came to the pub I would be partaking my evening meal in, The Majors Retreat. An old but quaint building, it was a bit run down but looked fine enough. I knew the Cotswold Way was 50 yards down the road, over a field and I was at my B&B, but no the Cotswold Way directed me to turn right and head away from said field. It was only a 5 minute walk to come out said 50 yards from pub, it just seemed like a wholly pointless diversion to take, I took it anyway, I could live with that. Through the field with a couple of paddocks and I arrived at my B&B, Noades Studio. Knocking on the door elicited no response save for a large dog barking. "Well at least that will get their attention" I thought, but no, it took another half dozen knocks before someone appeared at the kitchen window to see me. The door was soon opened and a welcoming smile and hello was on offer from a very friendly hostess, who's name to my shame, I cannot remember.
I was under the impression when I booked I was in a studio, hence the name Noades Studio, but no I was shown to a room upstairs, which was a very well appointed twin room with bath and shower. I used the shower straight away, then made a coffee to have with an utterly scrumptious piece of Lemon and poppy seed drizzle cake which was waiting for me under a little glass cloche next to the kettle. Just about the best piece of cake I've ever eaten. And there was two pieces so I could have another for my supper, woohoo. Turning the tv on, it being a Sunday, Colombo was on so I was as happy as a pig in muck. Unfortunately the reception was poor and it kept freezing or losing signal. Never mind, although a bit of a telly addict at home, it doesn't really interest me when I'm walking, save for the weather reports, which I already knew were forecasting dry and hot all week.
Feeling refreshed I headed out for an amble around the lanes and village. I took a few photos of the church etc and headed into the pub for some grub.
On ordering a drink I could see the host was a very genial chap, name of Roy. Whether he was the eponymous major or not I do not know, but at any rate he seemed to have an air of officer about him, Very laid back approach to the whole thing made for a very relaxing pub.
I ordered the steak as usual, rump with a pepper sauce and this time with all the  trimmings. The B&B had said they do good food so I had high hopes.
I was disappointed somewhat when the steak turned up and was extremely chewy and tough, not a good one at all. The pepper sauce was extremely watery, definitely of the packet variety, not that that is a complaint, just it was really too thin. I didn't complain as I didn't feel like disappointing Roy, who was such a nice old boy, I didn't have the heart to do it. I was chilled out, writing my blog as I ate, JD and Coke to hand, in pleasant surroundings at the end of my first day. I was happy enough. I enjoyed a couple of hours here, having a few smokes outside, ringing my mum to let her know I was ok.

The Major's Retreat.

I twas dark by the time I headed back, this time going the 50 yards up the road to the CW rather than doing the silly 3 sides of a square to reach it. I needed my head torch to get across the field and paddock without breaking a leg and had a last smoke outside before going in with the intention of dealing with that last piece of lemon cake. I watched TV for half hour or so while having a coffee and said cake then turned in about 11.

Day 2  Walking 9-4.45

I was up and at them by 730, going down to find the hostess busy in the kitchen. I was the only guest the previous evening so had the whole dining table to myself, with nice views through the window of the garden. It was a beautiful home with lots of antique furniture and family photos. A very pleasant environment to start the day off indeed.
Asked if I wanted tea or coffee, the answer of course was coffee and asking if I could possibly get my flask filled was greeted with a cheery "no problem" and was taken away and returned with good coffee.
Sitting there, I could see a cornucopia of cereals on offer but looking around could not for the life of me see a bowl on offer to fill. After five minutes she returned with my cooked breakfast which was very good. A couple of slices of toast and marmalade followed, while I finished the coffee pot. Seeing me finished, as she started to tidy away she realised I hadn't had a bowl and apologised profusely to which I laughed and assured her not to worry. She did seem a tad ditsy, but was a very welcoming friendly host. Highly recommended as a place to stay.
I repaired upstairs to sort my bag and fill up with fresh water. I was out the door by about 8.45, waving goodbye. I had a quick smoke at a stone stile affair 50 yards down the road then was off across a field to cross for the 4th time in two days the A46. Another stile and I was in the Dodington House grounds, James Dyson's country pile as informed by my host this morning before leaving, Lots of nice grass to walk on, giving the sheep a wide berth.

Dyson's spread.



 The land was undulating, coming to the crown of one section of field, the land dropped down giving me a view of a building site below, slap bang in the middle of the field. An area had been grade one-d and was piled with various aggregates. Approaching I could see a small river/stream, which had a little stone bridge over it was being walled on its banks in the ubiquitous Cotswold stone. It was a pretty spot, but the work being carried out reminded me of something you might see at Las Vegas, where they have put those canals in the casino with gondolas on. It did have a slightly tacky air to it.
A few more fields brought me to Old Sodbury, a pleasant enough little place which had a bench on a little patch of village green. I took advantage, stopping for a quick smoke and brew. Saddling back up, a little lane led me to the church which was opposite a CW signpost pointing to the church. I followed instruction and walked through a small graveyard to the retaining wall which was on the very edge of the hillside, giving a panorama of the valley below and as far as the eye could see.

Old Sodbury churchyard.

View from the churchyard.

Studying my map, i was confused as to the route somewhat. The path down was self-evident. You could see the flattened grass leading to the bottom left hand corner of the slope, yet the map was telling me to turn right. I opted to head down to the bottom which wasn't that far away to check it all out. Sure enough at the bottom another sign directed me to the left which was obviously not for me. I could see that I was no a couple of hundred yards lower down than i should have been, but a public right of way which I was stood on would take me in the same direction as I wanted to go and bring me out at Little Sodbury where I could reconnect with the CW no bother. It had the added advantage of missing out some hill hugging, I could see the tightly packed contours on the CW section I would be missing out so felt quite pleased with myself for this fortunate misdirection. I knew where I had gone wrong now,the sign pointing to the church had been at the corner of a wall, the sign half hidden by tree foliage. There had been a little path to the right of the sign and obviously I should have taken that to follow the way. I had actually taken the southern route, doh. No mind, it hadn't done any harm and I was walking on flat fields, albeit with more cold, dead eyed cows staring at me. A couple of them attempted to coral me in a pincer movement. I gave them a wide berth to get to the gate beyond and escaping their attentions.
Little Sodbury came up, just a few grand houses and church on a quiet B road. No one around save a couple of dog walkers and horse riders. Back into fields, a steepish descent to a gate was followed by a steeper still ascent up a grassy slope where I rested on a stile while having a fag and looking back to a pleasant vista. A small lake was off to the left of the dip, I could see a chap fly fishing, Lazily flicking the fly out. It looked very tranquil. Over a field, marshaled between to electric fences brought me to Horton. Nothing to see here so I carried on down a B road, ignoring a stupendously steep climb to a fort. Again it was a no brainer. A crazy half mile loop up and down a steep hillside or a quarter mile saunter along a quiet even road nicely shaded by trees. This brought me to Horton Court where I didn't have a choice but to rejoin and go up the same hillside, although at a slightly less arduous angle. A tiny patch of trees where gone through, bringing me out on some arable land. Again all harvested there wasn't any crops to avoid and the land was bone dry. I could easily tell by now that if the weather had been anywhere near my ideal walking condition, the route so far would have been a whole different proposition. Casting my mind back I could quite easily see that I would have been spending a lot of time squelching through mud, boots clagged up with the stuff, weighing twice as much.
Reaching the top of the field and the incline, I had an easy choice to make. CW to the left of a hedge/treeline, along a field, in full burning sun with no shade,or, 5 yards to the right, behind said hedge/treeline, along the road, in nice shade. Tarmac underfoot I continued. The two choices were parallel to each other for the next half mile and then I rejoined the CW where it beared off to the left along a compacted chalk path, as hard as the tarmac. Farmer and hands were busy straw baling in the fields I passed. I twas very hot at this point and no shade to be had. I turned right now, onto a PRW to head to Hawkesbury Upton where the map, and Roy from the Major's retreat said there was a pub for lunch. Coming out onto a cricket field, I skirted the outside to reach a little path which brought me out at the pub. A nice little place with a shady beer garden which, after getting a coke from the bar and ordering the cheese and onion cakes with side salad, I took advantage off gratefully.
A couple of cyclists turned up with panniers attached, Getting beers and sitting at the next table. I was of a mind to strike up a conversation but they seemed pretty self contained so I left them to their own devices.Lunch arrived which was good, no too heavy on the stomach. An old gent had been dropped off by his granddaughter by the looks of it and was having a pint and a pipe on a bench. She returned for him before I left. It looked like it was a daily occurrence. 
Leaving I headed down the road. Although only a B road it seemed quite a busy thoroughfare. a Large ornate tower dominated the landscape.

There seemed to be a few of these on the walk. After half a mile a choice of three route were on offer. Straight ahead would take on a gravel road for 3/4 of a mile before rejoining the same road for a direct approach to my lodging for the evening. The other two options would take me through Splatt's wood. the one on the right was showing as crossing a few tight contours, the one on the left seemed a lot flatter.
I went to the left obviously, down a narrow shaded cutting through the woods, dropping lower and lower. IT then opened up into a fantastic little glade. Lush grass with a easy to follow route along flattened grass, wooded hillsides either side, only about 100 yards across, it was a stunning little section. Extremely quite, save for some pheasants mooching about, who when hearing me scooched off across the grass. Off path it was a bit thicker and you couldn't see their feet, they seemed to float along, was quite funny seeing them.

The right choice

Twas very nice.

A third of the way along the glade the path split in two, to the left it rose slightly, straight on it was still level. You guessed it, straight on for me thanks. Both paths came out at the same place on another B road. Since the original 3 way choice the map and signposts didn't actually tell me which was actually the CW anyhow so it was anyones guess as to the official route.
Annoyingly I came to a gate which was chained and for good measure tied up. I could quite clearly see I was on a PRW and was annoyed at the land owners unhelpfulness at barring my way. It wasn't even a sturdy gate, it finished a foot from the post and another section of fencing had been tied with various strings to fill the gap. Consequently when having to climb over it, it was wobbling around, threatening to pitch me off. This wound me up and I was quite ready to have a go at them if, as I got to the road and had to climb yet another chained gate right next to the farmhouse, they had appeared to tell me to "get orf my Land".
The road was narrow, shaded and completely flat and I ambled along passing a little lake on the right, by a small row of houses. I saw 4 guys, spread around the lake, casting out. IT looked a very tranquil scene. A nicer way to spend an average Monday anyhow.
a couple of hundred yards further on, on the right a little bridge without sides, spanned a stream I could hear gurgling away. I spotted a perfect spot and opportunity to take my boots off and have a foot bath. It was only day two and it wasn't necessary but what with the weather I didn't think I was going to get many chances to do it this week so sat on the bank under a tree and de-booted and socked and dipped my feet. The water was only a few inches deep but, because of the shade was quite cold. A brew and couple of smokes were the order of the day so I didn't argue about it and relaxed for half an hour. A group of soldiers yomped past, followed by a couple of minibuses, just in case I imagined anyone dropped out and was RTU-d.
Foot spa treatment over I set back off down the lane for a few hundred yards, constantly checking my map as it seemed like I should have reached where the path went off across the hillside at Newmills farm. I could see how close the pond I had just passed was to the turn and it seemed like I'd gone way far enough. From the map I could see that if I kept going I'd have no choice but to follow the road all the way if I missed it. Coming to a gate to a farm which had a loose untied gate across I ventured in, slowly going up the track looking all around trying to get my bearings as to the landscape. I heard a voice behind me asking could she help. I turned asking if I was on the right path, to which she said no it was a little further. I explained about the map and pond, she said that the map wasn't quite right at this point as it was a common error. I apologised profusely to her for intruding on her land and she was quite alright about it. Put right I continued down the road, only to come across a CW sign 100 yards on. The map is definitely wrong here. That pond is nowhere near as close to the turn as it shows.OS, sort it out!!
Two choices here, a flat walk by the stream for a couple of hundred yards or up the hill then along to the same point as the stream came out. I followed the stream, going through a gate into a paddock. The path wasn't as well trampled as others had been and approaching the farm I could see a horse chewing away at the gate I wanted to get through. It seemed quite twitchy, Tail going back and forth, was also a foal lying down next to it. It spied me and didn't look too impressed by what it saw so I erred on the side of caution, backtracking to go the official way after all. 
Up the hill I went, turning into more pasture fields, the path about 6 foot from the fence on the left, the field sloping up to my right. Going through one gate as I approached the other I could see a herd of cows congregating on the path. The farmer had helpfully placed a water trough in between the fence and the path. The cows seemed very unimpressed at my presence, two of them nearest to me stared constantly, both turning to face me. I had no choice but to turn right and head up the hill a bit to avoid them, coming back down the fence line to the gate, them not 10 yards away. Cheers farmers!
I was again reminded how different this walk would be if the weather was different. I could quite imagine how rutted and boggy sections could have been with a little rain and although not particularly enjoying the blazing sun, counted my blessings.
Finally free of cows I came out on the road at Alderley. A grand house and church, a few cottages were all there was, very picturesque it was too. The road was steep downhill, tough on the feet as always. I soon came to the bottom though where a track led to Park farm, which for months I'd imagined was my accom for the night. It was only a couple of weeks before setting off I'd realised, " No, I was at Millpark Farm, off to the left about a mile from the CW. The PRW I intended to follow was to the right of the farm track, through a field, with once again lots of cows, this time with lots of horns. I entered but the cows were all dotted about not giving me a clear way to avoid them. I decided against it. backing out and going down the farm track which showed as a permissive path anyhow. two hundred yards and then a right bypassed field and cows and I was back on track again.My phone rang at this point. Answering, it was Lara from Millpark Farm asking how I was getting on as she was going out at 4.45 and was wondering if I was going to get there in time. IT was 4.15 as we spoke and I said I should be there just in time as I was only a mile away if that.She said she would ring again about twenty to five. More fields, arable and pasture followed until I came to Kingswood. A jumble of alleys surrounded the church and I went round in circles trying to find the way to the track which took me to the farm. It was nearly twenty to now and my phone rang, only it wasn't Lara, but Pam, form Valley Views, my accom the following day asking me if I was nearly at hers. I quizzically  said "No, that's tomorrow?" hoping I hadn't messed up on my dates. She apologised, I was right,thank God. Keen to get her off the phone so I didn't miss Lara's call I wasn't rude, just perhaps a little abrupt with her.
A girl, about 15 was coming towards me with a Labrador trotting along besides her. I asked if she could direct me out of the maze I was in to Millpark to which she kindly said follow her, she was heading that way. I thanked her, giving the dog a tickle behind the ears as we went along a path and out onto a lane. I must say it was very good of her and trusting to wander off down a lane with a total stranger in tow. She left me at the right turn to the farm as she headed straight, into a field. Turning I could see Lara waiting outside the farmhouse, It was bang on 4.45. Timing.
She quickly showed me the cowshed where I was stopping. It looked as good in real life as it had done in the pictures. I'd booked it through Airbnb, as I'd struggled to find somewhere in the area when I was booking my accomm. I'd had to pay immediately for this through the site although Lara wouldn't receive the money until after I stopped. Since I'd booked this a year earlier it seemed a bit rich for them to have the money in the bank accruing interest for a year. Not a lot I grant you but thousands of bookings and that interest adds up.
Lara shot off saying her husband would be back shortly, but I was sorted and happy as a pig in muck with everything. I showered and made a brew. There was every accoutrement you could possibly need there, plus tea, coffee and a small bottle of milk provided in the fridge. There was also a couple of eggs and a pack of farm bacon from their own pigs for breakfast. Very civilised indeed.
I adjourned outside, setting the big shade umbrella up over the garden table as the sun was directly in front of me.
The Cow shed at Millpark Farm.

The garden.

Very nice.

I'd been in touch with Karen who was my step-parents daughter, who lived in the next village, when I booked this saying we must meet up for a drink or something. It must have been at least 35 years since I last saw her, not that I could actually remember doing so. I rang her now to confirm times. She was going to pick me up and get chippy on route back to hers for the evening. I rang her now and she would be here in an hour or so. I took half hour to have a stroll to give the pigs a scratch and introduce myself to the chickens as the info pack provided suggested. Coming back I had a sit down in the extremely pretty garden in front of the shed. Oliver the husband had evidently come back as I saw a bloke getting of a pushbike behind the cowshed, then he proceeded to chase 2 geese and 10 goslings out of the cowshed( I'd left the double doors wide open as it was hot in there). They had waddled in as he was dismounting. I found it highly amusing, I saw them waddle around the kitchen island before being shooed out. I shouted over he should have better control over them, laughing all the while to show him I wasn't bothered by it.
I then, before Karen arrived, performed a very important duty. My bag had these last couple of days seemed to be getting heavier not lighter, which with my track record was nothing I  took a drybag which I was using for dirty clothes, emptied my rucksack and started going through everything. Waterproof softshell, don't need that, in the bag. Waterproof trousers, ditto in the bag. Spare pair of walking trousers, ditto. Kindle, ditto. Capuchinos, gone. Noodles gone. Waterproof sealskinz socks gone. More socks...gone.Pairs, 4,5 and 6 underpants gone. Camera harness. Head torch. 2 bags of sweets bought in Bath. a few other unneeded items. All in the bag. I weighed it when I got home 3 and half kilos. This was going to Karen for her to post back to me when I got home.
I put everything else back in my bag and it felt as light as a feather.

3 and half kilos....Gone..

Much relieved at having my load lightened I didn't have to wait long for Karen to turn up, after trying to give her directions over the phone. We shot off to the chippy in Wotton Under Edge. Fish and chips all round was the order of the day, then off to Charfield where she lived. A pleasant evening followed, where I learnt that, perhaps our parents weren't godparents to each others kids after all and there was a family connection instead. All my life I've laboured under that wrong impression. She had to ring her mum to confirm it.
I was back at the cowshed about 10 o'clock, for a coffee and smoke outside before turning in.

Day 3  Walking 9.25-4.45

Up at 745 for a coffee and smoke before making some breakfast with the supplied ingredients. 3 rashers of bacon and two fried eggs. I over cooked the bacon to crispiness but still enjoyed it. There was just enough milk left for a last coffee on the terrace before setting off. 
What with leaving the CW yesterday to reach the cowshed, maybe a mile or so off to the left of the CW, the choice this morning was simple. Retrace my steps and then do a 3 mile looping route over hill and down dale to reach Wotton or, a bit simpler, head directly north and reach the same spot in about a mile. mmm..let me think about that one...
Nothing is as simple as that though is it, so after reaching Hawpark farm a short distance away, I got it wrong and headed into a field which had a trampled grass line in it heading to the top corner 400 yards away. The grass was long and my boots and trouser bottoms were soon soaked. Reaching the top I was most annoyed not to find a gate or stile, just an impassable hedgerow. Tracks were heading along this hedge line, previous walkers had had the same problem. Following this I came to the right hand corner still with no gate. Looking back I could see more tracks from this point heading back to the entrance of the field. Damn and blast, I traipsed back the way I'd come. Three quarters of a mile through wet grass and still no progress.

Wrong field!

Wotton Under Edge.
 Approaching the entrance I could hear a couple of women with dogs walking down the field next to me, behind the hedgerow that separated the two fields.Reaching the end I turned right into a nice, short grassed field with a clearly defined path worn in which was, if I'd looked 10 yards to the left 20 minutes earlier I would have seen and saved myself much cursing at inconsiderate farmers who didn't provide exits from fields. Plus I wouldn't have soaking boots and trousers. Oh well, you live and learn. 10 minutes found me at the top of the field and over a bit of rough ground and down a lane, entering Wotton Under Edge, which is aptly called as it literally squeezed in under the escarpment. A pint of milk to sort my flask with coffee in, a sandwich for lunch and a mars bar were procured from a petrol station, then a steep climb through woods got me out of town and onto a fantastic viewing spot at Brackenbury Ditches had me sitting back on a bench, having a smoke and a coffee. could just make out the Severn river but not much further as it was quite hazy, which was a recurring theme through much of the week.

Top of Brackenbury Ditches.

Site of the old fort.

Rested, I set off again, passing alongside a field before entering woods again for a nice stretch. Into open grass again, a couple were approaching with 3 big dogs. An Alsatian and two Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Lots of barking ensued, as the dogs came towards me. I did my usual, hand outstretched, saying hello, they soon succumbed to a friendly scratch and went away happy.

More woods, descending down a steep path to North Dibley. Half way down a sign pointing up the hillside appeared, with CW on it. It didn't make any sense according to the map and I studiously ignored it. North Dibley appeared, a little village, a couple of shops, I didn't stop and went down another steep path, narrow with hedges either side which brought me to a road. Straight across found me climbing again to a country lane, then still climbing came to the first and not last cornfield. The path was clear through but hemmed in by taller than me corn nearing harvest by the looks of it. It was unnerving, reminding me of that old 70's American horror, " Children of the corn". I expected to see some psychotic kids rampaging through with scythes, intent on beheading me.Luckily this didn't happen and I escaped unscathed.
I hate corn, awful stuff.

A bit more wood while climbing then all of a sudden I came out on the top, the trees cleared and I found myself half way up the first fairway of a golf course as a foursome were taking their second shots. I waited for them, checking my map and asking  "Really? you want me to turn left and do nearly 3 miles around a hill rather than walking a hundred yards along this gravel path in front of me to the clubhouse where the 3 mile circuit finishes"? Straight ahead was the obvious choice and I didn't argue with myself, reaching the clubhouse as another foursome were teeing off.
I could see the CW went straight down the hill from here into Dursley but couldn't find a sign or path anywhere. I turned right and headed for a minor B road a few hundred yards away which would take me the same way into town. It was steep but not as steep as the path would have been, had I found it, judging by the contours on the hill and the actual hill in my vision.

Coming down the hill into Dursley

I entered Dursley, a small market town with a pedestrianised high street which I ambled along looking for somewhere to get something to eat. I spotted a greengrocers which I ducked in, intent on getting a couple of bananas, which I realised I hadn't had up to now. No bananas where to be had though, they had sold out.
Reaching the end of the street I opted for the Bank coffee shop, which as the name would suggest, occupied a old bank building. IT was all very studenty inside. The menus where inside old children's annuals and car manuals which added a nice touch, or so I thought. I ordered a chicken and pesto pannini and a coke, sitting outside to watch the world go by. I dallied here for about 40 minutes, enjoying the sunshine for a change. Not that we hadn't had a lot of sun all week. I just don't enjoy it when having to slog myself up a steep hillside whilst in it.

Pitstop for lunch.

Leaving I headed down a side road before climbing another up to the grounds of a grand estate, the CW bearing left to cross a couple of fields populated by more cows. A B road was soon reached and I ignored the CW sign telling me to go straight across and climb Peaked Down and Cam Long Down, choosing instead to turn right, then down a permissive track to another cornfield, alongside this to another B road to where I again rejoined the CW. Not much distance saved, but a hell of a lot of huffing and puffing and probably 3 times as quick.
A flat walk along the road took me to another steep climb through a deep cutting in some woods, which, to me anyway seemed like the toughest climb of the walk so far. It looks inconsequential on the map but was a killer in real life. Finally, after many getting my breath back stops, I reached the top where some thoughtful person had provided a bench with great views of the two hills I'd just avoided. There was no back to the bench so opted to lie on the grass slope just in front of it and had a smoke and a well deserved coffee. I spent a good half hour here as I was knackered and enjoying the views.

Finally setting off The rest of the day was more or less spent in woods, which was nice and cool and shaded. It was a bit up and down but quite pleasant. I came out of the woods briefly at Frocester Hill where there was a viewpoint and a long barrow. There were quite a few people sat on the plethora of benches provided. I stopped for a minute to soak in the views, but really, they hadn't changed a great deal these last couple of days. I could still see the same hills and valley as previously, the CW taking such a twisty, roundabout route, you could walk all day and still see the same vista.

Approaching Frocester Hill

At the viewpoint.

Long Barrow on Frocester Hill

Finally emerging briefly from the wood, which was named Stanley according to my maps. I could see a couple of alternatives on offer across the fields below which would get me into King's Stanley a bit quicker.

Kings Stanley coming into view.

 I was happy at this point to finish the official routing so soldiered on, the path climbing and falling again, until finally coming to a farm and country lane which took me down into the village. Entering a field again, as promised my B&B was right on the path, a sign with a little stile over a fence put me through the back gate in to the garden. I crunched over gravel round one side of the house, then back round the other to find a gate to the front, where I found Pam, the owner just closing the garage door. She welcomed me in, telling me I was at the top in the attic. Second time this week ha ha. It was very pleasant though, I had my own bathroom across the landing, which had a bath and all the toiletries you could hope to wish for. The roof was pitched and very low and there were numerous signs telling me to watch my head, which I managed to bang probably a dozen times throughout my overnight stay. Not her fault, mine though.
Telling me that the pub was at the bottom of the hill, I said "really, at the bottom, what a surprise" laughing. Everything this week was either at the bottom or the top of some hill or other.
I had a relaxing bath in between banging my noggin a few times, squeezing a load of bubble bath in there. I also took the opportunity to wash all my socks and underpants which after lightening my load courtesy of Karen consisted of 3 pairs of the former and 3 pairs of the latter. I also washed my baselayer, a berghaus long sleeve.
A smoke in the garden, then I was off down the road, passing the pub first to go to the co-op for an ice cream, a couple of bananas at last and a couple of chocolate bars. Also bought a scratchcard but I'm not retiring yet.
I ate the ice cream on a bench outside the local garage before going back to the pub. It was fairly quiet, a area with seating was at the front behind the fence which separated it from the y junction it was situated on. The landlord was friendly, I had a coke before ordering the pudding chips peas and gravy. A proper northern fare in the Cotswolds. I hoped I wasn't going to be disappointed in it and I wasn't. A large pudding with good chunks of meat arrived and I was more than happy with it. Very reasonable prices as well compared to everywhere else I'd eaten this week. I commended the landlord and asked him to pass on my compliments to the chef, telling him he should put his prices up. He was a genuinely nice chap, who with his wife were flying landlords, going wherever they were needed due to landlords doing a runner or sick etc. The pub was owned by some holding company or some such.
I spent some time outside writing up my blog, having a smoke and drink. 2 couples, one white and elderly the other young and far Eastern came out looking to head up the road. I asked if they were going to Valley views, as Pam had said she had 2 couples staying as well and I've learnt on these walks that if you see two disparate couples dining together then they are probably "Doing the Walk".
I wasn't far behind them, leaving about 10 minutes later, about half nine. A slow amble up the hill and I was in the garden for a last smoke before bed.I finished my days write up before turning the light off for what I hoped would be a good kip.

Day 4  Walking 9.30-600

Well, a good kip wasn't to be had after all. I was in bed trying to sleep from about 1030. Unfortunately the bed wouldn't allow me. It started with the quilt. It was a single bed, however the quilt was a double and probably the heaviest quilt I have ever known. It was actually hurting my feet it was that heavy, what with hanging over the sides so much. This was coupled with the curse of B&B's, soft lumpy mattresses. They have a habit of making you feel like your going to fall off the edge of them and I just do not do soft mattresses. I solved the quilt problem by going in to the airing cupboard and changing it for a light quilt I had spied in there earlier. This solved that problem but the mattress was still soft and lumpy. It must have been half one before I gave in, taking the worlds heaviest quilt, folding it in half, laying it out on the floor and bedding down. Finally I was comfy and must have dozed off about 2 o'clock.
Before I knew it I was awake at 7, feeling alright as I don't sleep a great deal anyway, 5 hours is about right. I laid there, straining my ears, I was sure I could hear humming or something. It would stop for a few seconds then there it was again. Not loud but just there, loud enough to hear. I thought at first it was a radio but it was to inconsistent to be. It just kept on while I got my stuff sorted out, filling my flask with coffee, sorting my water. My socks were more or less dry. I used the pole straps on my bag to hang them, reasoning they'd be dry in an hour after being outside. The T-shirt was dry so that went on, nice and fresh.
I nipped in to the garden at 745 for a quick fag and coffee  before breakfast. The day was very hazy but I could see it was going to be another scorchio day.
Going in the dining room, I was seated at the head of the table which seems to be a recurring thing on walks for me. The other 2 couples were there from the previous evening. The annoying noise from earlier became clear when, from the kitchen the same sounds emanated. A tuneless humm de humm humm humm de humm humm. It's her house and she can hum if she wants to, but really, it was really annoying. If there had been a tune there somewhere then it would have been bearable but not just random humming please. It's as bad as whistling. I like to whistle sometimes, a tune your listening to yes, when no ones there or within earshot. Not just random noise please. The breakfast arrived, sans beans, even though they were stated on the breakfast menu clearly. Another black mark I'm afraid there.
We chatted while we ate. Neither couple had heard of the West Highland Way so I enlightened them as to its delights and urged them both if they returned to do another walk they must do that one. It's what I tell everyone who I meet who haven't experienced the delights of the Highlands.
We finished and after paying up and getting my stuff I had a final smoke in the garden, While the 2 couples came out to boot up themselves. We exchanged emails, me telling them to get in touch if they decided to do it and I would help with advice on accom, where to stay and where to avoid.
Wishing them well I set off to get my boots and trousers wet again as it seemed to be De Rigueur on this walk in particular.

Apologies for forgetting names.!

Juhyung and wife. A lovely couple.

View behind Valley Views.

I was soon in another cornfield which was short, then over a couple of fields with a couple of friendly horses, which I said hello to, in.

Friendly Horses.

I dropped into Stonehouse, which seemed a pretty uninspiring town. Not that I saw much of it as crossing  the dual carriage way, going over the canal,

Stonehouse Canal.

And again.
 which looked not too bad, over the railway line, I was back out of it climbing up a short hill to a minor road at Westrip. Down this lane a hundred yards then up a little path and another little rise to another road I was then faced with a climb up Maiden Hill. On the map I hadn't been looking forward to it but it was quite a pleasant little grassy hill really.

Up Maiden Hill

Looking back to Stonehouse.
This thankfully brought me to Standish Wood, where a shaded level couple of miles followed which was nice. A large trunk laid on its side half way through had me sitting down for a brew and smoke, enjoying the peace and quiet. A few walkers passed, all going in the opposite direction. Lots of dog walkers as well.
Carrying on I soon reached another short cut I'd been planning. Instead of following a 2 and half mile circuit round a headland which looked like a lot of ups and downs, straight on out of the woods and a little PRW brought me out on a b road. Crossing I entered the field opposite, a large expanse of green dotted with cows. The path was clear in the grass, although I had to skirt some cowage on the way.
This all brought me across the road to Scottsquar Hill, to link back onto the CW,another little wooded section for a few hundred yards. The CW brought me back to the road, which after crossing and into a field gave expansive views of the valley below, Painswick in the distance, my lunch destination.
This was a nice little descent to another A road this time which was quickly crossed. Down a lane to a stile a walker came in the opposite direction. I let him over the stile first while I had a slurp of water. He had a large pack, tent and mat strapped to the top. I asked him how he was getting on with the walk carrying everything. He admitted he had took a few shortcuts already, which I assured him was totally fine as I had been doing the same thing. He said he'd got a lift to Painswick that morning from Birdlip which was a bit naughty I reckon. Shortcuts a one thing, but when you look at the map and say I walked from here to here, throwing in the caveat that you got a lift for part of it is a bit too far. I didn't admonish him, each to their own sort of thing.
Continuing on the path kept dropping. I could see Painswick getting higher in my eye line which was a bit depressing. From the top of the hill it had looked like a nice amble down to lunch,instead it was becoming apparent another climb was on the cards. A collection of buildings appeared. All recently renovated to obviously a high standard. Traditional Cotswold stone was gleaming clean. Everything looked pristine for what were obviously a couple of hundred year old buildings. A nice little spot it was. Back through a gate I started climbing again, past a paddock, whose horse took an interest and trotted over for a nose scratch. He soon lost interest and wandered off again though. Down again through a field then I could see Painswick at the top of a couple of more fields. It didn't take long to reach and I was soon entering the high st which although reasonably quiet, did have a few people laying on the grass in front of the Church, other people lounging against walls as if waiting for something. There was some bunting strung in a couple of places so I wondered if something had just happened or was going to happen. A fair, carnival or pig chase or some such event.


I spied a little coffee/ cake shop on a side road opposite the church were I repaired for lunch. Battered mushrooms and a garlic dip were just what the doctor had ordered so I followed his orders and ordered them. A coke with ice also was on the prescription so I didn't demur.
There was only 2 tables, one taken with a large umbrella offering shade and mine in full sun in eyes mode. Before my order arrived the other table became free so I shot across before it could be bagged by anyone else. There did seem to be a lot more people about than 10 minutes previously.
Lunch arrived and another couple to occupy the table I'd just been on. Then a couple of ladies arrived, looking around as if deciding whether to stay or not as I could see they wanted to sit outside too. I motioned them saying "please take a seat, there's plenty of room". They promptly bagged the seats and ordered drinks. I finished up the mushrooms and sat back drinking ice cold Coke. We chatted for a minute. One of them had done the Cotswold way years earlier and had also done the WHW which got us both chatting about my favourite subject, namely Scotland and the WHW in particular.

Outside the coffee shop.

They asked if I was here for the race,  "what race?", I enquired. "Why, the Tour of Britain, going through in 12 minutes" the replied. That was a stroke of serendipity if ever there was one and although time wise I was nearly ready for the off, I couldn't miss this so all three of us got up to head on to the high st 30 yards away, where I could see thronging crowds now, plus a BBC camera van. The waitress came out, putting a reserved sign on the table, which was nice of her. They all came out and locked the door, joining us on the road.
The street was lined, with the major crowds being a hundred yards down the hill. Where we were was quieter and I picked a good spot to catch them flying down the hill. A police bike came down a minute later, stopping just opposite me, putting his hand up to the cars trying to come out of the road where we had just had lunch. A couple of minutes later, lots of bikes and cars came flying past, all blaring a medley of horns.Police bikes, team cars, camera bikes, police cars, they all had different sirens. They must have had a fun day out at the horn shop choosing their tunes. Every time one went past the crowd would start cheering in anticipation of the leaders, who there was seven of apparently, 2 minutes in front of the Peleton.
The 12 minutes passed and still no sign of the race, lots more cars, all with bikes on their roofs.
Then a local, by the look of him, appeared at the top of the road just before it bent out of view, on a standard mountain bike, just meandering down the hill, not care in the world, about 50 years old.
People started cheering and laughing, he started waving in triumph and as he got past us and down to where the main crowds where they went wild cheering and applauding at a deafening roar.
Then lots more police bikes arrived, all blue flashing lights, one stopping above us at the bend, another with the one already opposite and a couple went further down. All this time we had all been wondering when they were actually close the road to traffic as cars had still been going up and down, queueing at the lights at the bottom. At this moment a guy in a small works van opposite us on the side road got out of his car, coming across to question the police biker as to how long he was going to have to wait, to which the copper kind of shrugged, holding his hands up as if to say,"don't know mate as long as it take, which seemed a reasonable answer to us all. The guy started moaning, saying he had to get to work, which had a woman stood behind a metal railing in front of her office  just behind me telling him to just wait and get back in his van. The guy was walking away and turned on his heel, shouting to the woman that " some of us have to work love", to which she replied, " we're at work too you know". He started muttering something else back and all the crowd, me included, started jeering and booing him. That got him back in his vehicle sharpish.
Next minute 3-4 bikes raced past, blaring sirens with intent and we all braced ourselves knowing that this was it now.
The leaders appeared round the bend, flying down at breakneck speed, followed by more blaring horned vehicles of both persuasions. The adrenalin rush was huge, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, it was quite emotional. Everyone cheered for England and it was over in a flash.
I'd heard the copper on the bike say on the radio that the Peleton was two minutes behind so spread that about so people were ready. We'd all had our phones out, videoing well before they had arrived and had kept pausing to try to preserve batteries.
Another local appeared on his bog standard bike, this time a young guy, who likewise lazily came down the hill, until a team car came flying down behind him, horn blaring, which to not put too fine a point on it, shit him up, making him veer off onto the pavement, narrowly avoiding colliding with a old gentleman walking up. Everyone who witnessed it was laughing and shouting good natured comments to him, he was clutching his chest, up against the wall , laughing as well.
Then the Peleton flew past, all tightly bunched, if your in the middle of that you've got to have a lot of nerve to just keep going, hardly seeing where you're going.
The crowd went wild, everyone was really buzzing and it was exciting to watch. A few more stragglers went past within the next couple of minutes, then a large train of team cars, bikes and police, then an ambulance. This seemed to be it as lots of people started crossing the road and returning to wherever they came from. The police bike disappeared and Angry man in a van screeched of in a cloud of tyre smoke.
We went back to the cafe, I went to finish the coke, it was like lava, it was that hot. Forgoing the rest I got sorted and saying a fond farewell to the two ladies, who assured me after the climb out of town it was easy going to Birdlip, I was off again. It  was now half two, I'd been expecting to be leaving at half one
I recrossed the main road went up to the bend and beared left up a narrow street. Rising steadily I was soon up on the top of the rise, into another golf course. The path a gravel path running alongside a par four. I was again courteous, staying still while two couples played from the tee. They thanked me for waiting and I was off, 20 minutes later, over levellish ground, after alternating with little patches of wood and fairways I was at a main road, crossing over and entering more woods. The CW sign had 3 miles to Birdlip on it which was a pleasant surprise, I was expecting another 6 or 7 miles so thought to myself, there's no rush now .A steep climb followed, not too long thankfully and reaching the top, the path veered left and steeply back down. This seemed an opportune time to have a coffee and smoke, on the stone wall by the path. While enjoying myself here a lady slowly reached the top from the opposite direction. I startled her somewhat saying hello as I was off the path a bit and under a tree. She was eating from a freezer bag and dropping stuff on the floor as she went along. Her friend came up behind her, telling her if she lost sight of her she would be OK as she could follow the trail of eggshells. OK, it was only eggshells, biodegradable I'm sure, but she was eating out of a bag, she could have just dropped them back in the bag. If you'll litter the path with egg shells, what else are you going to be dropping.? I felt like saying something but left it.
Break over I went down the path, passing a couple, getting to the bottom the path levelled off again and stayed this way for the next mile or so, gently undulating, shady and quiet, it was a nice section. Then a sign pointed me right, to Cooper's Hill, up the hillside off the gentle path, which from the map looked like it was going in the same direction and I prevaricated as to which way to go. A few times in woods' I'd had to do this only to come back out on the same path I'd just been on.Well that sign had said 3 miles so I thought "sod it, I'll go the right way".I needn't have worried, I was already near the top of the hill and a couple of minutes found me on the edge of a very steep hillside, which had a wooden stake fence strung across, a sign on it warning to keep away from the edge, erosion danger.

Cooper's Hill with bullshit sign.

View from Cooper's.

The hill was covered in verdant grass, it didn't look like it had eroded at any time recently. There were good views out into the valley which I soaked i before heading down to the left of the hill on a little, very steep path. This brought me out at the bottom of the same slope, which again had the same fence and sign attached, blocking access. I stared at it, cogs whirring in my brain. A couple of synapses must have connected because it suddenly clicked, " hang on, Coopers Hill? Isn't this cheese rolling territory?

More bullshit, must not have fun, must we.

Turning round I spied a guy loading a vehicle, at a cottage a dozen or so yards away. Approaching him, I gave him a good afternoon and how are you. He had also spotted me and gave me a friendly hello, then said, "oh I thought you was someone else but obviously from your accent I was wrong". We both had a laugh. I turned pointing to the hill. " Isn't that the cheese rolling hill ? ", I enquired.
He confirmed it was said hill. I commented that the 'elf and safety must have been around to put the fences up and stop people having fun to which he replied " Yes, we had insurance for 14999 people, the last time we reckoned we had 5000, the police said 15000, so the insurance wouldn't cover us and then the council came along and erected the fences.". We both spent 10 minutes bemoaning the "Nanny State". No one has ever died on the event, lots of broken limbs and twisted ankles, but you pays your money, you take your chance so to speak. He said they now kept it unofficial and unadvertised and had around 500 people turning up. I remarked how, what with its position and access to it, then even 500 people must be a mission never mind 15000. We said goodbye and I carried on, the road tarmac for a couple of hundred yards then petering out into a forest track again. The next mile or so was very pleasant. Nice and flat, shaded, I actually had to avoid a couple of muddy patches on the track where there was dense foliage and probably no sun hitting the track all day. This was about the only sign of moisture I saw on the whole walk.
A large friendly dog came bounding up, another of the same breed on a lead with a woman attached.
I gave it a friendly stroke, it was very friendly. We chatted for a few minutes. The leaded one,a rescue dog that had been mistreated, she couldn't let off as it would bolt and disappear. I felt sorry for it, wishing I could speak dog and explain, " look, you've got a good home and a nice owner now, if you don't run off then you could be let off and have a lot more fun with your mate". Unfortunately I haven't mastered it yet, so was unable to get through to him.
We said goodbye and I continued. Now you may remember me passing a sign what said 3 miles to go. Well it now seemed like I had done at least 3 miles already. Apart from the initial climb and a little one for Cooper's Hill, the path had been gentle and I had made decent progress.  It brought to mind the 2 mile to go sign for Beinglas on the WHW. That is the longest 2 mile in history. This, I confirm must be the longest 3 miles in history. I'd passed that sign at 3 o'clock and it was now 5 nearly. with no sign of Birdlip. I knew I still had a climb to make to get over the hill to my right and it was still another twenty minutes before I reached this. I then descended again, finally coming out on a path running alongside a field, which at the end of, on the right was a large white, to me anyway, hotel looking building. I reasoned this must be the hotel. A hundred yards further on a sign directed me to cut back up the hillside, nearly going back the way I came. I studied my maps on both phone and paper. The gps was telling me I was 20 miles or so to the west on the other side of the motorway. It had been doing this all week. One minute it would be deadly accurate, next 20 miles out. I went about 100 yards up this path before deciding it must be wrong and  I right, turning back and going down the path again.  It brought me out onto a very busy b road with no pavement or path, heading down the hill and disappearing round a bend to the white building. I walked down 100 yards, having to stop and check my phone map and paper maps. I just couldn't get my bearings on this one. Reaching the bend I could see I'd gone wrong and had to turn round and head back to the path again. Back up the turn I re-emerged on the same road a couple of hundred yards up, another couple of hundred yards to a left hand bend at the top. Like I said this road was extremely busy with no pavement, It was a hairy few minutes. Reaching the turn I managed to make it onto a pavement that started, finally seeing  my hotel on the other side of the road. I had to cross another side road joining this one just after the bend, it felt like Spaghetti Junction it was that busy, no one was driving slowly, they were all racing along.
The hotel looked quite nice. This was the most expensive accom for the walk and looking on the website and pictures I had had high hopes for a night of luxury.
The old main entrance was not in use, you had to go round the side, to the new one which had a roof connecting it to another building so that if you pulled up in a car say, you could step out under shelter and into the hotel. Like you see in American films, at posh hotels or casinos. You know what I mean.
This wouldn't have worked though as there was a ramp on the path to the doors, with a railing so if you had pulled up you wouldn't have been able to open your door and would have to, rather ignominiously, instruct your limo driver to reverse 10 foot to let you get out in the pouring rain, now you didn't have the luxury of being under the roofed section.
Entering everything seemed well. It was an old building, rather tired looking, there was a sign that said the hotel would be closing for major refurbishment on the 18th of this month. This now being the tenth I'd been rather lucky I thought.
Checked in I headed upstairs to my room, which I had immediate reservations on as it was at the front closest to the bend in the road and the side road. The windows were old although I could see the glass was double paned. I shut the two open windows to test their effectiveness and the noise was reduced a lot so that half put my mind at rest.
I dumped all my stuff, heading for the shower, which was over the bath, the curtain already pulled all the way across. It put me in mind of room 217, or room 237, depending on whether you prefer the book or film. I half expected a ghostly silhouette to be behind the curtain, ready to draw me in with her feminine charm.

Room 217.

Fortunately there was no ghost involved and I  turned on the shower to be greeted with the most pitiful flow I've seen in a long time. The added bonus was the water was directed into a six inch square directly down, which was half over the corner of the bath, near enough down the wall. This necessitated squeezing myself right into the corner. I tried to change the height/angle of the head, however the whole apparatus of pole and head was barely fixed to the wall and was in danger of falling off. I gave up and did the best I could.
After completing my ablutions, I thought, lets have a brew, that will cheer me up. The tea/coffee tray was sans virtually everything. There was 1 coffee sachet, 1 teabag and amazingly surprising, 1 sugar. 4 milks though, woohooo. The set up was great. There was no plug where this and the kettle was. The only way to do it was to unplug the TV and put the kettle on the floor as the cable wouldn't reach the table.
I was starting to get a bit pissed of with the price I'd paid for this place. It was further compounded when 20 minutes later paying a call of nature of the numero deux variety, upon flushing, the whole contents floated to the top along with the water rising to the brim. I shut the lid and went back in the bedroom to fume and fulminate.
After 10 minutes I checked and there was no improvement in there, so said to myself, " well that's it , I'm not having this shit, this is too much". I went downstairs to reception, the guy was in the bar near the door. I went in and very politely asked if I could have a word at reception.
I started by saying, "Look, I'm English so I don't complain but I have to", listing the problems upstairs.He came up with me to check. I told him it would be inadvisable to lift the toilet lid at the present time, he checked out the shower rattling the pole and observing the dribble produced. He wrote it all down, telling me to which I confirmed I knew, that they were undergoing a major refit in a week. I concurred, saying  the shower wasn't so much an issue as I had already used it. The toilet however was now unusable, I looked myself, it was still as bad half an hour now later.I was basically now down to a room with no en-suite. I asked would it not be possible to change rooms, which he said was impossible as they were full that evening. I was of a mind that a complimentary meal or couple of drinks, or maybe a discount would be proffered but to no avail. He actually never even apologised for anything, just making notes and saying they couldn't get a plumber out at that time.
I was not impressed one bit. It goes to show cost of room means nothing in regard to quality. This is something learnt a few times. On most walks and at other occasions, the cheapest places have invariably been the best and the most expensive the worst. Maybe I'll learn my lesson one day and avoid them.
He left with his pad, still no apology in the offing.
I went down myself a few minutes later to the bar for a coke, which I took into the beer garden, finding an empty bench to write up the days events. I continued this over my meal of sausage and mash which was the only redeeming feature of the whole experience that evening, being quite tasty.
I had a couple of smokes with another coke, heading back upstairs to catch the tour of Britain on the box. There were no shots of it going through Painswick which was disappointing, however I saw the Peleton flying past my, at present, bedroom window which was a bit surreal. While watching the race I suddenly became aware that my back which had been a bit sore was now really painful, on the left of my spine about half way up. There seemed to be no reason why, I hadn't been aware of pulling or straining it, I was just all of a sudden in real agony and actually contemplated the possibility that I may have had to pull out of the walk.I could only reason I was lying awkwardly and this was doing it. It took all my effort after the race finished to get up and turn the TV off.
After this I decided to have a wander up the road I was planning to take in the morning, which would cut out having to go back down the hill I came up earlier on the busy death road as I called it. I'd learnt earlier that the reason the roads were so busy was because it was a shortcut to 3 big towns, can't remember which ones though, but don't worry I was told, after rush hour it really quietened down, which turned out to be correct, although I didn't fancy trying to walk down it in the morning rush hour. The  CW had crossed this road where I came out before and gone up another hillside. I could see from the map that I could avoid this, rejoining the way at Barrow Wake. It was pitch black on the road but a pavement was to be found all the way along to the Barrow, so satisfied I turned back. My back was still really painful, fortunately just walking wasn't aggravating it. How it would be with my pack on was another question though, that, I would find the answer to in the morning.
Standing outside the hotel I had a last couple of smokes before retiring for the evening, praying my back would improve by morning.Oh, I did pick up a brandy and a coke in the bar en-route to take to my bed.!

Day 5  Walking 9.30-4.30

The day dawned bright, no surprise there then. The weather had been constant all week. Warm warm warm, too warm. The only saving grace was most mornings had started off pretty hazy which kept the beating sun off for a bit, plus the wooded sections were nicely shaded providing some relief.
Anyway, I nipped outside to have a cough and splutter over a fag before going in for breakfast which was very nice. The facilities might be shit but the food was good. The same couldn't be said for the coffee however which was pretty terrible and wasn't worth putting in my flask. I had brought my own coffee, enough for a weeks flask filling if the offerings weren't up to par so after breakfast went back to my room, making my own, the milk I had already put in downstairs.
I left at half nine, My back was OK, there was still a dull ache there but it hadn't bothered me during the night so I gave thanks for small mercies and set off. The road from the previous evening was tackled down to Barrow Wake. Not much to see but the usual vista point.

Barrow Wake vista point.

 Passing, I had a couple of hundred yards of pavement walking by the A417 to the roundabout at the junction with the A436. The traffic was backed up all the way along this road, which I was glad to leave behind quickly, crossing and entering Crickley Hill Country Park. This was nice, a little meadow with a few trees, up a bit of wood, then out on to a grassy, chalky headland with great views. There was an old settlement here, lots of mounds all over the hill top. Walking further along a bench and table presented itself, commanding great views out over the valley. I thought " that looks good" and sat myself down, rolling a smoke and having a coffee. A few people walked past, most with dogs, saying hello.

Crickley Hill.

There was a mile or so of wood path walking next, bringing me out onto a long, arrow straight minor road that was hedged on both sides nearly all the way down.

Down the lane to the College.

Crossing the main road at the bottom of this I was onto another minor road. A hundred yards further on, a sign for a college, with another saying " Bistro Cafe". This was countryside, not near a town, probably not the easiest place to commute to I imagine. A nice cappuchino seemed to be in order so I followed the signs through the car park and down a path until the signs disappeared. Standing there looking around a group of three women where passing. One saw my dilemma, asking if I was looking for the cafe and telling me it was through the reception. It was a large hall, very modern. spotlessly clean, a friendly waitress asked what I wanted and getting it, I went out on to the terrace outside. There was no ashtrays anywhere and the decking was spotlessly clean so I didn't risk a smoke, I expected someone would rush out and berate me. A few what looked like students and teachers passed the terrace, all using swipe cards to gain entry. It all seemed just a bit of a weird place. Some sort of cult or secret society. I drank up and got going, taking my mug in and leaving it on the counter.
Back on the minor road I passed a couple of masons repairing what must have been a two hundred year old wall. Large cut out stones forming a crenellation along the top where being replaced with newly cut stone. I could see they were a good copy and within a few years I imagined they would blend in well. I wondered whether I should knock on the door and advise them to paint yogurt on them, saw it on grand designs haha.
Turning left I was on a path leading up towards Leckhampton Hill. I could see from my map that I could, if I wanted to, turn right at the top and cut the hill out and save maybe a mile at most, but wanted to follow the route proper today. It was the shortest day so far, plus I didn't want to miss out Devil's Chimney. The path came out on a road, which was more or less level with the top of Leckhampton Hill, I just had to go down turn left down this road 200 feet to cut up the hill again, typical CW. Opposite me here was a modern building. To me it cried out, in it's design, Crematorium, that's what I imagined it must be from 200 yards away as I approached the road. On closer inspection, it became apparent that it was actually a private residence. How either the client or the architect never got this is a mystery to me.
I did the up and down bit, passing a bird of prey feasting on a, by the looks of it, freshly killed pigeon. It took off as I approached, leaving it's tea behind, landing back on it before I'd gone ten yards.

Up Leckhampton Hill.

 Devil's chimney came up, a metal fence and railing embedded in the rock on the edge of the hill, stopping people from getting to it, it was obviously the way most people would have accessed it. I could appreciate the 'elf and safety this time, seeing the sign, asking people to please refrain from climbing on the chimney. It wasn't that big and I could quite imagine it wouldn't last too much longer if anyone could just access it easily.

Approaching Devil's Chimney.

Yes, it's Devil's Chimney.

I'd of thought it was a natural product of erosion or the like but no, it was created when the quarry, which was cut into the top of the hill, about 30 foot down from the top, and where I now was, put in a funicular railway to haul away the stone and transport men up and down. It was, to me anyway, a scenic spot, grassy humps and bumps everywhere, exposed rock face, plenty of stone benches and rocks for people to sit down and enjoy the view and surroundings. I spent a few minutes here ambling about.
Going up the path I came out on the very top into a grassy field which was being cut by a couple of farmers. I went round the edge, visiting a trig point. I'd seen a couple of these on the walk and felt like visiting them to see how they were getting on condition wise. Some had the central plate which screwed in to cap it missing, exposing the centre core to the elements. I presumed this thread was used to secure the theodolite to the precise height required. It did make me wonder what goes through the mind of some people, to make the effort to get up all this way, but still be of the type of idiot who who vandalise something. But then nothing can surprise me anymore regarding that dichotomy, not after seeing all the crap left behind in Scotland, sometimes in places it would take a determined effort to reach.
I was of a mind to get going now, but spying a bench on the edge, nearly surrounded by trees,but offering good views below, I thought " Sod it, I'm having that one", going over and having a coffee and smoke. Finishing up I got off, walking through narrow pasture fields on Charlton Kings Common, which skirted the edge of the hillside. It was all more or less down hill here, nice easy walking, not steep at all.

Coming down off Leckhampton Hill.

This brought me out on a long,straight B road which ended half a mile away at a large roundabout connecting the A435 and A436 at Seven Springs. I knew there was a pub just off the roundabout and headed to it, I wasn't that hungry but I go down fast when I do get peckish and need to eat. It's never happened on a walk yet and I'm determined it never will so for the first time this week decided to have the burger and chips and obviously a Coke to wash it down. I had these in the beer garden at the back, a very nice area with a pond and the like.

Back of the pub.

I lingered here a while, not in any rush, like I said, it was a short day today and I only had about four miles to go.
Finally leaving and crossing at the roundabout, I headed up the side of a field then reached a path through the woods to reach Wistley Hill where the path skirted the edge, with views of Cheltenham.

Top of Wistley Hill.

Approaching the line of electricity pylons, I had been debating whether to take the shortcut down the hill here, but carried on into Lineover Wood. I knew the day was more or less over now and bearing left I started descending the last hill of the day. About half way down the woods opened up into a grassy field, which had a bench smack bang in the middle with views to the valley below. It would have been rude not to avail myself of this offering so wandered over, plonking myself down to finish the last of my coffee and have a couple of smokes.

Finishing my Coffee.

Leaving, in short order I was at the bottom, looking left on the road to spot my hotel for the evening. No hotel was to be seen, only what was obviously a ex pub/hotel, now with a sign saying "Indian restaurant". This had me worried. Had my hotel closed and this was now it? I'd never google street viewed this one but was under the impression it was just off the way. On the bench earlier I'd googled the hotel and this building looked a bit like it. I decided that all I could do was turn left and walk along to see if it was further on. A mile of boring, busy main road followed, before I relaxed upon seeing my hotel, The Chartlon Kings on the left hand side. It was advertised as convenient for walkers walking the CW, but to me a mile walk on a trunk road, off the walk route is not the most convenient. It was a good looking building though with a large lawned garden to the side that had a few table and chairs dotted around under the shade of some large oak trees. I could see where I'd be spending some time this evening.
Entering, the host was seated behind a table in reception. He checked me in, asking if I was eating there this evening, if not there was a lot of nice places in Cheltenham to choose from, as he had a limited menu. I thought this was the wrong approach to take, underselling your own offering. I told him I didn't imagine I would be venturing into town that evening and would be more than happy to try his instead. He showed me up to my room, which was small but perfectly formed. The only downside was that it was the closest room to the main road, which seemed to be par for the course for me. If I didn't get the attic room with the most stairs to climb then I would be as close to the traffic as possible. The window was open and the road was another commuting road. It being "rush hour" there were lots of cars passing. I shut the window to see what that accomplished and to be fair it went pretty quiet.
Showering, I also did some laundry, doing all my spare socks and my Berghaus baselayer, turning the radiator on low and hanging it all on that. The room wasn't cold so opened the window again, I didn't want to come back up later to a stifling, humid room to try to get some sleep. I watched TV for half an hour before going down and getting a Coke, went into the garden for a chill and smoke. I had a little wander around the lawn, going up to the hedge line at the back where there was a large slab of stone marking the resting place of Charlie the dog. He lived to the grand old age of seventeen and I had a moment of remembrance for Monty, who passed away this February. I wished I had a garden where I could of done that for him.

Charlie the Dog. God bless him.

Going in, the host appeared at the door to the bar asking if I was alright. This seemed to happen throughout my stay here, I would go through a door and either he or his wife would appear asking if I was ok and could they help. It was as if they were waiting to pounce the minute you showed your face. I went into the bar, getting another drink, ordering the pork and vegetables which was so so. I took advantage of the papers on offer, doing the Times crossword, or attempting to at any rate. Sometimes I can get about 75% done, other times only one or two answers. It depends on the day as they get progressively harder throughout the week and it was a Thursday so I did about half.
I headed back outside for a smoke and took a wander back down the road, crossing over and going down a lane to find the PRW which headed diagonally up the hill to meet the CW. I intended to use this in the morning as a way to rejoin the trail, without having to go the mile back down the road before climbing the hill. It seemed simple enough and I headed back, having a final smoke before going up about eleven.

Day 6  Walking 10-5.30

I'd not got a great sleep last night. I'd left the radiator on low to make sure everything was dry for morning, my baselayer especially. I'd had to get up in the night and open the window as even though it was on as low as I could get it it was still too warm for my liking. It had took a while to get back off and I was a bit fuzzy this morning. Hence I was late up at about 5 to 8.
I headed down, ordering the poached eggs on toast as I didn't fancy the full English again and thought I would go for a slightly healthier option. Coffee was poured and not for the first time this week was disappointed with it. too weak and cheap tasting, I never bothered with my flask, reasoning there was a garage a hundred yards further towards town and I would get a capo from there and tip it in my flask.
My eggs arrived, well I say eggs, one egg, one slice of toast. I'm sure the menu had said poached "Eggs". Being an obvious walker I would have thought I would have warranted two. I had toast afterwards as well which filled me up some more. I don't normally do breakfast, not eating usually till dinner time but when walking will always have a decent brecky to start the day. I took a banana and blueberry muffin from the table on my way out, reasoning that would make up for it.
Getting squared away upstairs I was out the door by half nine, heading to the garage to be disappointed by the coffee there as well. It was one of those miniature machines, which has those cups with the tinfoil lid with the coffee and powdered milk in. You take the foil off and fill with hot water. Not the most inspiring coffee to say the least. I couldn't be bothered to put it in my flask, instead taking it with me, going down the lane to the stile and sitting there drinking it before tackling the hillside. Finishing it I realised I didn't have a bin to put it in and refusing to be one of those people who just drop crap everywhere, crushed it flat and not being able to get it in the side pocket of my pack without taking it off, I shoved it in my left trouser cargo pocket, where it spent the next two days to the end of the walk, annoying me. Each time I stopped and took my pack off I would forget and setting off again would realise it was still there and I had forgotten to transfer it to my bag, also forgetting to put it in a bin when I had the chance. It actually made it all the way home with me!
Girdling my loins I set off, to traverse the hillside to link up with the Cotswold way at Colgate farm, which seemed like a simple enough thing to do. Things are never that simple though.

Climbing up to Colgate Farm.

Still climbing.

Reaching the farm a notice said that the PRW had been diverted and to follow the diversion which would take me to a white post and then to head to the left back up the hill. I found the obvious white post, went left to be confronted by a large metal fence, which had a cow marshaling arrangement behind it. There was no obvious way through, no gate or anything, no sign for the diversion. I had to go back down the hill to the next gate and again bear left, before heading up the hill again. Reaching another gate, still with no signage, not even a PRW sign, this was chained up as well. I knew the CW was only about 20 yards in front of me, just through the trees on the other side of the gate. Thinking "fuck it" I climbed over the gate and not being able to get through the undergrowth followed this line of trees up the hill, seeing the CW now but barred from reaching it by a barbed wire fence I didn't fancy trying to scale. Reaching the top of the hill and reaching the top entrance to the farm the barb wire ended and became a wooden fence, which although had no stile or gate, I determined to climb, sod the farmer and was back on the CW. This whole thing pissed me off no end. Ok, sometimes I can quite understand re-routing a PRW. There were times on this walk where the way cut diagonally across a field when it would have been quite reasonable to amend it to go round the edge with no real detriment to the path or to the walker. I can sympathise with the farmer here. But if your going to get permission to reroute don't take the piss with the diversion. This had been ridiculous, the signing was wrong, the gates had been chained, I had near enough gone all the way back down the hill I had just climbed and would have been better just walking the mile down the road and following the official route. I was well pissed off to say the least and was of a mind to compose a strong letter to the local authority airing my grievance.
Anyway, back on the Way I carried on, an arrow straight path between fields, fairly overgrown on each side,  batted away stinging nettles with my poles, which come in handy for these occasions.
This put me on a minor road for half a mile before I reached a crossroads literally as well as metaphorically. The choice to be had was turn left, following the CW to reach Cleeve Common, and not miss the diversion I was planning to take, to miss out Cleeve hill and about 4 miles of ups and downs, or straight on, a long straight stretch of minor road to reach the radio/TV towers, to then take a right and reconnect with the CW a mile or so later.The choice was simple, today was a long day and what with the palaver of trying to get past Colgate farm this morning, I headed straight on up the road which was long and boring but straightforward. Around two miles later I got to the end of the road where a few cars were parked, a couple of dog walkers setting off on the common. It was a large flat area, I couldn't see much land past this field as it dropped away out of sight. I did the right turn keeping the stone wall to my right, passing another trig point, this one with the brass cap missing. Carrying on the path which was just an impression in the grass led me down the hill, turning in to a more defined vehicle track, still on grass. It wasn't until I nearly reached the bottom, and upon checking my map I realised I'd stayed too far to the right and had actually come out on a track a good mile south or where I should of. I could see now that I should of headed diagonally across the common rather than sticking to the right. Oh well, it had added a mile to my journey but I had still saved about 3 miles and probably a couple of hours as well, given the terrain involved.
I was happy enough, it was a good track and I met a couple of rather large but friendly dogs, who after an initial barking session welcomed a friendly scratch behind the ears.
I reached Wontley Farm, a deserted ruin set in beautiful surroundings. It looked like an ideal candidate for refurbishment and I wondered why it hadn't been done before. The building on the left had a massive hole in the side and you could see in to the roof rafters and floor joists. There were a couple of signs warning to stay away as the structure was unsafe and I didn't argue, although it was exactly the sort of place, as a kid, I wouldn't been able to of stayed away from.

Approaching Wontley Farm.

Yes... All Wontley Farm.

A short climb up the road and I soon rejoined the CW on the same road before following a field edge up to Belas Knap, an impressive Long barrow that still looked intact, although the signs said the roofs of the alcoves had been replaced with concrete before recovering the structure with its earthen mound. A couple where picnicking on top and I joined them some distance away to enjoy a coffee and smoke

Belas Knap Long Barrow

. A walker approached from the same direction I had come, on crutches, hopping along. He didn't stop and carried on though so never found out if he was doing the whole thing or just out for a walk. Fair play to him either way. Crutches but still had a fairly large backpack on. Finishing my break, I headed down the hillside to take me to Winchcombe. This was a pleasant stretch through fields dotted with sheep, some who scurried away at the sight of me, others who didn't bat an eyelid at my presence. Do sheep have eyelids?.

Winchcombe in the distance.

Some sheep.

A nice grassy descent.

 This brought me into Winchcombe, a proper Cotswold town, lots of old buildings, a quaint, but busy high st. I selected a pub and went in for lunch. Rare roast beef, onion and horseradish was asked for but they had ran out. I looked crestfallen, the girl behind the bar said she had beef brisket instead if I fancied that. I fancied. Going into the rear garden I found a seat under some trellis work and wrote up some of the days events while waiting for lunch to arrive. It so did and was very very good. The brisket fell apart and the horseradish complemented it perfectly, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Leaving I spied a tea shop and thought to myself, next one I see I will go in and get my flask filled with some, hopefully decent coffee. Another one came up within 50 yards so ducked in. A Chinese guy was behind the counter and I asked if I could get my flask filled. He didn't seem to get it so I took my flask out motioning for him to fill it with coffee. It took another minute before he grasped what I wanted. It took two cups and his assistant, a Chinese girl asked if I wanted hot milk in it as well. £4.30 it cost which I thought was a bit much for a 400ml flask.


Still Winchcombe

Yep... Winchcombe

Leaving I went over the road to a newsagent/gift shop where I managed to get a collection of postcards to post off to friends and family, including a really bad one for a couple of friends, Ron and Charlotte. I'd told them I would get the worst one I could find for them and it was a corker. A close-up of a lone sheep trotting down a road on the white line. It could of been anywhere in the world really. A couple where in asking for directions to the river walk. I pulled my phone out and showed them on my maps exactly how to get to it and we wandered down together as I was going in the same direction. He recognized my accent, he was from Bolton, just round the corner from where I grew up. We said goodbye and good luck and I re-crossed the road to take a small lane out of the town. This soon reached a stile where a quick coffee was in order before some more field walking to Hailes, a collection of houses and a farm. I took a shortcut I had planned, missing out another 3 mile of climbing the escarpment and coming back down, instead going across more fields for another mile or so to reach Wood Stanway, coming across a collie sheep dog who was getting on a bit. He came over and I gave him some attention, scratching his ears and head and rubbing his stomach when he rolled over. He was a friendly old soul and reminded me of Monty in some ways. I said goodbye feeling a bit sad that I wouldn't see him again.

Friendly Dog.


 More fields were crossed before I reached Stanway, another mile away. This was a fantastic little place with a waterwheel, a collection of really old houses and a large impressive gatehouse to what must have been an equally impressive country pile.I had a coffee on a seat which stretched around the trunk of a large tree, on a lawn on the corner of the little road I was on. It was good coffee which was welcome.

Entering Stanway.

Nice gatehouse sir.

Having a coffee.


Stanway Church.

Setting off again, I left the road, going through a gate which had a "Bull in field" warning sign. Thankfully there were no bulls on this occasion and I passed through unharmed. The next field with an identical sign was passed through without incident, passing a couple of women walking the other way. They had no gear and were obviously just out walking for a bit. Approaching them I couldn't miss one of them with her garish costume of lurid pink tracksuit and getting closer, saw lots of gold chains and rings on her. With her bleached long blond hair she was to all intents and purposes, apart from being of the opposite sex, a dead ringer for a late DJ who has been in the news somewhat over the last couple of years. I wondered if anyone had ever had the audacity to bring this to her attention and advise her to change her style. Passing them I became aware of a strange noise ahead, something I couldn't place. Approaching the next fence and gate, I spotted a watering trough at the fence about 20 yards to my left. The racket was coming from this and I surmised that the farmer must have turned the water on at the farm and the sound was air escaping from the pipes. Going through the gate I manged to avoid quite a few fresh cowpats on the path and thought to myself, " Ah, now there might be Bulls, I'd better keep an eye out. After only going about 30 yards an almighty bellowing and mooing rose up from what sounded like at least a hundred cows, the sound coming from my front right. Next minute, directly in front of me, just over the brow of the field, a large herd of horned brown cows came charging towards me, on the path I was on. I looked around, seeing to my left, about 50 yards down the field a gate separating this and the lower field. I rather quickly moved off the path heading to this gate, ready to throw myself over it if needed. All the while I was reaching in my pocket and getting my phone out, setting it to video and I manged to video the event. Luckily the cows, although giving me a look stayed on the path. The farmer appeared over the brow on a quad bike, he gave me a wave and I waved back with my free hand. They settled down somewhat, all heading for the trough I had just passed. It all became clear what had happened then and I had a good laugh to myself at it all.It must have been a daily occurrence, them being fed then led up here for a drink. There where other walkers behind me in the previous field who had stopped while the cows calmed down.

Chuckling to myself I carried on,finally reaching Stanton, a charming village. One of the few places I had really been looking forward to reaching. It was total chocolate box Cotswold. There wasn't a modern house in site and I wandered slowly up the road taking loads of pictures.

Lets just say all these are Stanton..Save me captioning them all!

 I came to my accommodation for the evening, the Old Post Office. Going through the open gates I went around to the back where I spotted the hostess Jo and a couple of younger women sat at a table having a drink. I greeted them, which brought me to the attention of their dog, a small curly haired poodle type, who started barking and approaching. She warned me to be careful as the dog had bit someone earlier in the day. I crouched down offering my hand as it approached, starting to scratch its head. It sat down and bent its head towards my hand so I could scratch harder of which I obliged. All three were amazed at its attitude to me. I laughed at this saying I had a way with dogs and not to worry about it having a go. From then on it never made a sound, only coming over to see me for another scratch.
I love dogs if you haven't already noticed!
I took my boots off as requested, leaving them in  the cloakroom, before finding my room, as directed at the very top of the house. Again!!

Roughing it for the evening.

That a window.

The bathroom was shared with the other room on this floor, but evidently the other guests had already had use of the facilities so I had it all to myself. A nice shower and freshen up later I went down to have another wander around the place before heading up the lane to the pub halfway up the hill. Jo, upon arrival had told me she had reserved me dinner here earlier, which was jolly nice of her.
I opted for the Cumberland sausage, sitting outside under a tree with views down into the village and over the valley. I spent a pleasant couple of hours here, enjoying the food and drink and the views, going inside as it got darker and cooler to have a coffee. I left a generous tip as I was feeling largesse by now.

Topping up the reserves

View from the pub.

Setting off in the dark I was ruing not bringing my head torch with me when my phone rang.. It was Charlotte, who was home alone, Ron being out on a job and she was a bit nervous being on her own and wanted someone to talk to. I told her I had managed to find her the worst postcard available and I would be posting it in the morning. We chatted whilst I wandered down the road looking for the Old Post Office in the pitch black, walking past it and having to turn around. Still not finding it until I recognised the car outside. I still had to feel my way to the gate though. Entering the house by way of the kitchen I found my host, hostess and daughter ensconced at the table, enjoying a bottle of wine. I commended them on their B&B, saying today was the day when I finally felt I'd arrived in the Cotswolds proper. We spent half an hour chatting, getting on to the subject of wind farms and their respective pro's and con's. The husband was the head of a anti wind farm group and we discussed their inefficiency. After about 20 mins he got up saying they were going in the living room to relax, I could see they'd had enough of me by now and didn't hold it against them one bit. I left them to it, going in to the garden for a smoke and drink of the can of Coke I'd been hauling around with me for the last few days, which I'd put in the fridge when I checked in.
One of their cats was outside and like dogs, they always seem to gravitate towards me so I gave it a stroke and fuss over. It disappeared and came back again a couple of times. While having another smoke the husband came out, heading to the out building to fetch another bottle of wine. We had a quick chat about how they came to live here and work and so and so. They were a lovely family, perfect hosts.
Finishing my smoke I went in about 11 and went to bed.

Day 7  Walking 9.30-4.30

Unfortunately, much as I liked the place and the hosts, I again found myself on a single bed with an uncomfortable mattress which after a couple of hours tossing and turning, I gave up on, putting the quilt on the floor and using the bed throw as a quilt instead. This as usual allowed me to get some sleep and as it was the shortest and last day today I was having a lie in as well, ordering breakfast for half eight, the same time as the other couple who were staying. Going down and entering the kitchen I wished Jo a good morning and asked if she could provide some coffee with which to fill my flask. It wasn't a problem and she directed me to the dining room at the front of the house. Entering I met the couple staying. I had seen them last night in the pub and imagined they were locals We introduced ourselves, they being Neil and Monique from Boston, Massachusetts. He struck me as a very laid back individual, easy charming manner, she seemed a lot more serious. We joked about various things and he got it, she didn't really raise a smile. They seemed an odd pairing. 
The room was glorious, stone walls, mullion windows. It was actually the room which up until the 1970's had been the post office itself. I went with the full English, Jo bringing me a large cafetiere with enough for my flask as well. We chatted while we ate. They weren't walking the Way as such, just spending a few days here and there having a wander about. They were off to Broadway today which was on the way so on leaving I wished them well saying I would probably see them at some point out there.
Getting my stuff sorted I went back down and paid up, thanking Jo for her hospitality, not mentioning the poor mattress. I say poor, there was nothing wrong with it, just I do not do soft mattresses at all and cannot sleep in them.
Setting off I determined to stick to the Way all the way, pardon the pun. It was the shortest day today and I wasn't going to rush, not that I had all week. The day began with a climb out of Stanton, back up the escarpment up Shenberrow Hill. It was steep but over a lot sooner than I expected.
Coming out on top near a farmhouse and an old settlement I turned left which took me down the farm track. There were a lot of sheep up here, a large group where resting under a stand of trees. This was easy walking now, level and good underfoot. After crossing another farm track it narrowed and started heading downhill at a gentle pace. Approaching a farmers gate, I saw a herd of cows congregating at the usual trough placed right by the gate, on the path. A couple standing rearguard, eyed me dispassionately, tails swishing. As I approached they turned to face me, forcing me to stop a minute to assess options. I headed to the right, going up the hill a bit until I reached the fence then turned back left, sticking to the fence line to reach the gate. The cows were only 10 yards away and I quickly shot through the gate before they could get any nearer. Breathing a sign of relief, I bumped into a more friendly member of the animal kingdom, another sheepdog stretched on on the track, who on hearing me, craned his neck around to get a look. He didn't bother getting up, just rolled on to his back as I got to him. I obliged and tickled his belly. Another friendly old soul. Going left I headed down another track, dodging a post van who was on his way to the farm. About quarter a mile later, I got to a stile which took me into fields, still heading down. I had spied Neil and Monique from 200 yards back going over the same stile. They were just ambling along and I soon caught them up. They had come the easier way, along the Winchcombe way from Stanton, a route I had looked at as an alternative to this mornings initial climb. We chatted for five minutes then I went ahead through a bit of wood before emerging into the open, Broadway to my right at the bottom of the hill with Broadway Tower behind up the next hill. I looked for a good seat to have a coffee and soon saw it in the form of a fallen tree branch, which had another branch behind it slightly higher. It worked perfectly as a seat with a bit of spring to it, with a springy back rest. As I say perfect.

Perfect coffee spot.

Broadway Tower to the right.

Being an old hand at this walking business now, if I may be so bold, you soon learn how to spot a good spot for a seat, whether it be tree branch, stone, banking etc. I poured a coffee and had a smoke, Neil and Monique passing in short order. I waved, saying I would see them in Broadway no doubt.
A large group of teenagers passed, on their way up the hill. They looked like they ranged form 15-19. All had large packs with tents and sleeping bags attached. The smaller they were the bigger the pack seemed, but maybe that was just perspective. I wished them a good time,feeling all's right with the world when our youth can get out and enjoy themselves like this.
Leaving my comfy seat behind I was soon in Broadway, again catching Neil and co up as we entered the high st. There was a market on, it being a Saturday, not many stalls and not really a lot on offer to a walker. Neil and co were going up to Broadway tower as well so again I said goodbye, saying I hoped to see them up there later. I meandered down the street. It being a Saturday it was very busy with tourists.Quite a few groups had obviously come on coaches. It was a nice village, very picturesque. I was on the lookout for a nice coffee shop with outside seating, but didn't see one, instead opting for the pub where I sat out the back, in an astro-turfed beer garden with a coke.
A German older couple joined me in there, having something to eat and drink. I didn't stay that long and was soon off along the street again.
It quietened down, turning into residential houses, all very pretty indeed. Lots of pictures were took here.


The Way turned off to the right, a kind local out with her dog holding a gate open for me as I approached. I was now on the hill climbing up to Broadway tower, a climb of about 600 feet and some change.It was grass fields all the way, soft underfoot but reasonably steep enough to have me stopping every two minutes for a breather and a chance to look back down into the valley below.

Onwards and upwards to Broadway tower.

There was quite a few people coming up and down, as I got higher I kept expecting to see the tower ahead which would tell me how for I still had to go but I didn't actually see it until I was barely 50 yards away, after coming through a line of trees. It was a lot smaller than it looked earlier when I was coming down into Broadway, but still an impressive structure. I had a good wander round it taking pictures, a field just below had a few deer in which came into my viewfinder.

Finally coming into view.

After 10 minutes or so I went along the hill to the barn that Jo from Stanton had told me about, where I found a cafe with lots of benches outside on a garden lawn and lots of people enjoying their Saturday.
I ordered a espresso, a piece of lemon drizzle cake and to wash it all down, a large cappuchino, taking a table number and joining everyone outside.
Everything arrived and I couldn't resist sending a pic of my refreshments to Charlotte, who appreciates a nice slice of lemon cake and espresso. I told her I had to go to a thousand feet but I found my cake.

It would have been rude not to.

I spent at least an hour up here, the walk was nearly over and there was only a few miles to go.

Setting back off the path took me down the hillside to the right of the tower, passing a couple of American ladies coming up. I told them not long now for a coffee and cake, to which one said " If only". I made her day by saying " No tis true, there's a cafe up there, your nearly there". she was over the moon at the prospect and that put a spring in her step.
 Carrying on I soon came to a main road to be crossed then I was in a little picnic area, dotted with benches which had metal plates screwed down on them, presumably for instant barbeque's which seemed very decent of the council, rather than just putting a no BBQ sign up. At the last bench just before entering a field I took my pack off to roll a smoke as I could see it was all down hill from here for the next mile. Saddling up I got off, crossing the field to enter what was marked on the map as " The mile drive", a flat path in between trees where I spotted the accursed "Dog shit tree".

The Mile Drive.

Dog shit tree.

 Named by Lonewalker, a fellow walker and blogger, with a brilliant website, this is where dog shit has been bagged up by the dog's owner then hung off a tree or bush like a Christmas decoration. So instead of degrading into the soil if you can't be arsed to pick it up, it now hangs around, literally, for years presumably.
At the end of this was another few hundred yards of field edge walking, with views of Chipping Campden to my right.

First view of Chipping Campden

Approaching the end I could see a sign pointing that way, but Lo, thou are not going that way, that would be too easy. Instead the CW turns left, crossing the road to head up towards Dover's Hill. It was only about three o'clock and I could see from the map it was a very short climb, plus I was doing the official route today to finish so didn't hesitate to go left. In short order I was at the top, where it opened out onto a flat section maybe 50 yards wide by 400 long. There was a great viewpoint down into the valley, probably the best all week to be honest, so got my flask out and leaning against a log on the slope I finished my coffee and had a couple of smokes. There were a few people around , some walkers and some dog walkers, just people out enjoying the weekend sun.

The view from Dover's Hill

And did those feet....

Leaving, the path went to the end of the plateau and then back down the hill to the road along a narrow path between fields. Re-crossing the road another narrow path, this time steeper led me finally into Chipping Campden and to the finish line along the High Street. Not that I could find any sort of marker or plaque to signal the official start of the walk here. I went well past it anyway, searching for my room for the night at the Red Lion Pub. If I'd opened my eyes properly I would have seen it as it was only a hundred yards from where I had entered the high street and I must of walked straight past.
Anyway I was at the end of the walk finally, as always a bit of an anti climax.
I wont bore you with the details of my evening, food, drink, strolling around, taking pictures, the usual.


Well like I said at the beginning, I never set out to religiously follow the official route. This was about using the CW to head north as part of LEJOG. I probably, looking back now shaved, 10-15 miles of the official route by expedient use of shortcuts. When on LEJOG I would maybe even try to shave more off, but after doing it I know now I wont be coming this way, no way Jose.
All in all, it was still a great experience, a real slog. I didn't do any training at all and paid the price, being knackered and out of breath on all the ascents, but to me that's part of the fun. Pushing yourself to the limit all the time, feeling like you've achieved something. If I had spent all winter getting fit then would it have been as much fun?, I don't think so. Yes I shaved some miles off but still, I did it in seven days, which no one else I met was doing, all doing it in 8-9, even 10 days.Also I was told that it was a lot tougher doing it south to north, although I couldn't see it. Some of the descents were a lot longer than the ascents and just like the WHW, I would look back and think, "well I'm glad I was going down that and not up".
SO to sum up all I can say, and always say is, get out there and do it if your thinking about it. It's tough but rewarding in lots of ways, spiritually and emotionally.
Happy walking and good luck.

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