Day 33 - Winchcombe to Chipping Campden
The last day of the Cotswold Way today, and the heatwave that will hit next week has also started to rev up. So a prompt breakfast this morning to try to get some miles in before it got too hot. I would much rather walk in the rain than the heat.
As with yesterday, today’s route took in some of the Cotswold Way, some of the Winchcombe Way and a section on road. When I planned the whole route a number of months ago, I was looking for a mixture of lovely walking combined with pragmatism about getting to my final destination without adding too many extra miles. Today represents that aim well. I saw some great views and walked through beautiful villages but knocked off some of the extra distance so that I got there in less than 15 miles. Which given the heat today was a blessing.
I started by picking up a sandwich at the North’s bakery in Winchcombe. I was particularly taken with the tray of lardy cake there. This has been a favourite treat for many years, and is a Gloucestershire specialty. Hardly a health food, it involves large quantities of lard as well as raisins and sugar. I was so delighted to see it, and very tempted to add it to my rucksack. But then I considered the lard seepage into the rest of my belongings, and sadly declined.
The initial section of today was easy enough walking over fields, taking in some of the lovely archetypal Cotswold buildings.
But it all felt like hard work. The pack felt heavy, everything felt too hot and my leg was hurting again. I was glad to meet Carmen and Katharine who had travelled over from Wisconsin to walk the Cotswold Way. They cheered me up enormously.
Stanton was a lovely village to stop and rest my leg whilst taking a break. The architecture and the beautiful stone is so attractive, it’s no wonder this area is used so often by film and media companies wanting to encapsulate an ancient sort of England.
Then a steep climb up Shenberrow Hill, something near 800 feet in a short distance. The path was fortunately shaded for a lot of the ascent, but I was still getting overheated by the time I got near to the top. It was a blessing to go through Snowshill where there was an open pub.
The path has been pretty clear, generally well trodden and with sturdy and functioning gates and stiles. Just one place which annoyed me today - a gate that was tied closed with a rope that couldn’t be removed. It was too short for me to be able to duck under it with my rucksack, so I had to remove all my kit to get through it. And then the farmer had put a sign on asking for walkers to close it properly…..
A sad sign of the times, chatting to three young tree surgeons who were cutting down a number of mature ash trees due to ash dieback. As they pointed out, better to cut them down than they fall on someone, but very sad nonetheless. I complimented them on their skill as they were manipulating their ropes and chain saws. They laughed and said they were daft to do the job. I didn’t believe them.
As I was approaching Broadway beacon, the air became fragrant, and there were even more butterflies in front of me. The Cotswold Lavender company has a clever business model. They grow lavender in a large field from which they make gifts, toiletries, fragrances and suchlike. But one can also pay to walk around the field to get up close to the lavender. I decided I didn’t need any extra walking today so demurred. But then was very pleased when the road came up close so that I could see the plants. It reminded me of the poppies I saw in Cornwall.
Finally I arrived hot, sweaty and tired, at Broadway Tower. My friend Sophie has set me the challenge to find a massive monument dedicated to a woman. Not exactly that, but at least this folly was commissioned by a woman. Barbara, Countess of Coventry wanted to know if a beacon on this hill could be seen in her house in Worcester. So she had a folly built to find out. I’m sure we’re all relieved to know that it can indeed be seen.
If you climb Snowden in Wales, it is disconcerting when arriving at the summit to discover a teabar full of visitors who have made the journey up by train. It was a little like this here, it had been a slog in the heat, and my pleasure at arriving at the tower was somewhat tempered by the large car park and the big cafe. But turn away from that and the views are just as good. A great place to enjoy the view, have a cup of tea and do a quick LFT before seeing my parents this afternoon!
After having a chat with another harassed geography teacher marshalling more Duke of Edinburgh expedition teenagers, I enjoyed a chat with Bengt and Ulla from Växjö in Sweden. Working out how to spell that took quite a percentage of the time of our conversation. It’s pronounced Vecksher, or thereabouts. They were staying in the Lygon Inn in Broadway, adding more and more nights to their stay as it’s so lovely. I explained about the charity, we discussed travelling, and all agreed we weren’t old.
Staying in Gloucestershire, but only just, the signs telling me that Worcestershire was just to my left, I approached Chipping Campden on the last section of the Cotswold Way.
The final stretch was down a grassy track described as The Mile Drive. I guess it is about a mile…. Normally I’d have enjoyed this gentle soft walking, but I was hot and tired and achy legged. I was glad to see the village.
But I was even more glad to see my parents approaching in Chipping Campden. They have kindly given me a bed for the night in their house in the Cotswolds, fed me and done my washing. And when I described my disappointment at missing out on lardy cake this morning, we took a detour into Northleach and Mum found some. What a result.
A lovely interlude before heading into the Midlands tomorrow.
Distance travelled: 14.5 miles
Total ascent: 1620 feet
Calories burned: 2015
Local tipple: Dad’s extremely strong gin and tonic
Dinner, made by Mum. Excellent!!!
Gazpacho with garnishes
Strawberries and cream
Video of the day