I walked the Cotswold Way in sections with my very good friend Alex, who lives ‘Darn Sarf’ and consequently if we want to walk together we tend to have to meet in the middle somewhere.
The Cotswold Way is the second National Trail that Alex and I have done together. Once we finished walking the Ridgeway we felt we needed another challenge to keep the walking companionship going.
We live so far apart that it’s not easy to arrange day walks near either one of us, so we decided early on to try and meet somewhere in the middle. The added incentive of completing a Long Distance Path would hopefully keep the interest going and give us something to aim for. Having a goal when you’re walking is always better than wandering aimlessly.
So we both set out very early in the morning and meet about 08:00 at a predefined location, normally at the point I have selected for the end of the day’s walking – we then dump one car there and drive to the start of the walk and walk back to the first car. At the end of the walk we drive back to the start, pick up the car then go our separate ways. It sounds simple enough but Alex still struggles to get his head round the concept at times 🙂 It does mean, however, that we get to do a series of linear walks along the LDP of our choice, walking it as if we would in one long “thru-hike” as the Americans would call it.
The Cotswold Way runs, unsurprisingly, through the Cotswolds, which, to my surprise, is not a National Park, just an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
The Way is often tortuous, sticking as it does to the limestone escarpment for as much of its route as is possible. It does this rather pedantically at times, making wide loops around headlands, along often vista-less paths, any sort of view being blocked by trees, to come back dozens of yards maybe from where it set out. I found these sections rather annoying and the middle section of the walk was ruined for me by these sometimes pointless diversions. But we were walking the Cotswold Way and if I want to be able to “tick the box”, then they had to be done.
We needed nine day walks to complete the route, starting in July 2011 and finally completing it in October 2012 – if anyone has taken longer to complete the Cotswold Way I’d love to hear about it, but I think 16 months has to be close to the record? Despite walking at all times of the year, we managed to complete the walk without getting rained on once – it was often cold, muddy in sections and we had some miserable grey days, but we never actually got wet!