(This walk was done in November 2021)
There is something quite exciting in reaching the end of a goal. I really, really wanted to walk the whole of the Cotswold Way before year end and time was running out on me. The weather was turning cold and wet, the days were getting shorter… and I still had a fair amount of miles to go. Also I wasn’t as fit as I had been in the spring and was a bit worried about managing the remaining distance in just one day.
I got dropped off in Tormarton by my dad, who was not quite convinced my plan was a good idea, he kept asking me if I was sure… The village itself is small, but very old, they even found remains of people from the Bronze Age, 6000 years ago, when digging for an oil pipeline. A few other historical figures were born or lived here through the ages, some linked to Henry VII and Henry VIII, etc. I didn’t have time to visit St Mary Magdalene Church, I was a little worried about the mileage ahead of me, but as all old churches it was surrounded by a lovely old cemetery. I find them places that invite calm and contemplation…
The road out of the village takes you across the M4 motorway, which is noisy and busy and a bit of an eyesore. I was keen to leave all that behind and immerse myself in the last of the Cotswold landscape. The child in my however found being on the bridge a little exhilarating, like being in a place where I shouldn’t be.
Soon I left behind cars and farms and the rhythm of my steps was my only company. This is what I had badly missed. Solitude and nature. Fresh air, my thoughts. I don’t like listening to music or podcasts when I walk, I find that they intrude and change the experience.
This stretch of the Cotswold Way is very open but the paths do vary a lot, which makes the going easier!
The trail takes you past Dyrham Park, which looks splendid and well worth a visit when it opens again in the Spring.
On I went.
In this box there was a book where people wrote messages… a bit random and there was no explanation… but I wrote one too. I guess it’s just a human instinct to want to leave a trace of ourselves. I was here, I exist.
The village of Cold Ashton has a pretty church and a very impressive Manor House. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book and was originally owned by Bath Abbey, but got caught in the Dissolution of the monasteries and passed into the hands of the Mayor of Bristol etc. etc.
On and on I walked.
The landscape changed, it opened up. More rolling hills than woodlands. It seemed old, but also domesticated, like a giant garden rather than wild nature. Still beautiful.
We were nearing Bath and passed the site of the Battle of Lansdown in 1643
Then on again, through the golf course – mind your head, those players are not happy about you crossing their fairways – and along the edge of the racecourse…
Bath appeared like a mirage in the distance and although… there was still quite a way to go my steps quickened… the end was in sight!
And finally… Bath Abbey! The official end of the trail. I made it. I was muddy, starving and absolutely dead on my feet but I felt totally giddy… I wished there had been someone there to greet me and share the achievement with me… but I had to make do with a giant hot chocolate and a donut.
Once on the train I slept all the way home.