Katie and Shelley’s Cotswold Way (part 2)
Our Colleagues Katie and Shelley recently walked the Cotswold Way with the aim of enhancing their knowledge of the route as well getting to know a few of our wonderful accommodation providers. In this the second of two blogs, the girls travel from Painswick to Bath.
Painswick to Dursley
Yet another glorious day of sunshine as we dip in and out of beautiful countryside, beech trees, wildflowers and wooded areas.
As we start to emerge from one of the wooded areas by Ringhill farm we see an eerie child in one of the open barn shutters on the top floor of the farm. We soon realise that this eerie child is actually a slightly creepy doll left there as an interesting welcome for Cotswold walkers. We go on to a narrow escarpment which twists and turns around Haresfield Beacon and see the once remains of an Iron Age fort.
The path takes us through rows and rows of grapes at the new vineyard at Ryeford, making our mouths water, before reaching Stroudwater/Ebley canal, both the lowest point on the Cotswold way as well as one of the few areas of water on the route.
Other than the gorgeous variety of animals we have already seen on route we got to add a visit from a drove of friendly pigs to our list. Snuffling up to the fence close to the path in the hope of sharing our lunch.
On top of Coaley peak we discover Nympsfield Long Barrow, built over 5500 years ago. Although no longer complete and missing its roof you can still clearly see the burial chambers.
Coaley Peak offers more stunning views that include the Seven, Forest of Dean and even the Black Mountains in Wales are visible on a clear day over 40 miles away.
We finish by climbing to the top of Cam Long Down and enjoy the 360 degree panoramic views before descending into Dursley, our home for the night.
Dursley to Old Sodbury
Today we start with two options to our morning. You can take the slightly longer route round Stitchcombe Hill and golf course or you can take a short cut skipping this loop. If the weather is bad or you’re feeling tired the shortcut is a good option, however if you’re lucky enough as we were to wake to a gorgeous day and are feeling relatively fresh then the longer scenic route is well worth the extra effort. Make sure you go all the way to Drakestone viewpoint for your secluded morning views and first glimpse of the Tyndale Monument.
The Tyndale Monument itself appears suddenly as you turn the corner from a winding track. It was built in 1866 in honour of William Tyndale a translator of the new testament and stands 34 meters tall. It’s left unlocked with an honesty box. So for a small contribution, and if you have the stomach for it, you can climb the 121 steps up the spiral staircase to the top for more tantilising views.
We thought we’d seen some impressive home-made shelters along the Cotswold Way but found the winner in Westridge Wood. It even had two chairs inside.
A little further along Wotton Hill we found a very sweet plantation of trees surrounded by a circular wall. They were planted in 1815 to commemorate the victory at Waterloo and then replanted after a bonfire for Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1887.
There are a number of fantastic churches that graced our route today along with another spectacular monument near Hawkesbury. We chose not to visit the top of this one though.
If the monuments are too tall for your taste then you might like the beautifully quaint folly near Horton. It was erected as a millennium project to provide a resting place for swallows and barn owls, which are in decline due to loss of habitat.
Before arriving at Old Sodbury for the night we pass the Iron Age fort of Soppa’s at Woodcock farm which was mentioned in the Domesdays book.
Old Sodbury to Bath
Today was our last walking day from Old Sodbury to Bath. We were treated with sunny skies throughout the day. The route began fairly flat through peaceful farmlands. We past through Doddington Park (owned by James Dyson) and Dyrham Park, and spotted a group of young deer grazing in the field. We then zigzagged our way through fields of crops and woodlands towards Cold Ashton.
A few miles on from Cold Ashton we reached the very field where the Battle of Lansdown took place in 1643. You can’t miss this historical point on the trail as it is marked with blue and orange signposts. The Battle of Lansdown was played out between two equally matched armies of the Royalists and the Parliamentarians. You can’t help to imagine when walking the chaos that occurred all those years ago. We then spotted the war memorial which is linked to the battle which was built in 1720. It is known to be the earliest surviving war memorial in Great Britain.
The trail then winds slowly down towards our finishing point of Bath. This was a great highlight of the walk as our first glimpse of Bath is from Prospect Stile. We enter the city passing by the famous Royal Crescent. Bath has so much to offer from the famous Roman Baths to Jane Austen’s house. The Cotswolds Way technically finishes at Bath Abbey where we both took in the magnificent architecture of the building.
Overall we have both really enjoyed our adventure through the Cotswolds. We have learnt a lot about the history and the local area. We chose to walk this route over 6 walking days. These were long walking days but really allowed us both to get a real feel for the route. We offer several holidays on the Cotswold Way to suit your own walking pace. Each village we passed through offers something different from the charming yellow stone houses to the secret gardens to explore!