The walk along the Cotswold Way has now raised £2,150! All of it will go towards “providing ‘gold standard’ treatment and support for patients and their families”, as part of the Forever Friends Appeal of the Royal United Hospitals Bath.
Your support, and the shade from trees, kept me going as I walked towards Katrina, in Bath – thank you.
Here is a little more information about the walk.
One thing I did not check before I set off – a foolish mistake – was the elevation profile of the Cotswold Way. I thought, happily and misguidedly, that lockdowns spent walking around the City of London would have prepared me well for a hundred miles. Perhaps if the miles had been flat it would have, but it did not get me ready for the ‘glorious’ hills of the Cotswolds. A few hours up and down the Thames is not the same as a daily five hours or more on the ups and downs of this national trail.
Another failure on my part was to underestimate the usefulness of map-reading skills. Thankfully the Cotswold Way is as well marked as everyone suggested, but the extra distance to the night stops, sometimes several fields, or even a steep valley away, would have lost me forever, if it had not been for Charlie, who was able to assist as navigator for a good two thirds of the way.
It is amazing how much difference company can make when you set off on a long walk, especially when that walk turns out to be far harder than you thought!
Another great asset for us was the weather. We were lucky to have no mud or rain. Over the ten days of walking we only met a little bit of drizzle as we came down the hills into Bath. Other than that it was sunny, and hot … and then it was the humidity that proved to be the problem.
On each and every one of those hot, heavy, steep days I gave thanks for trees.
It was such a pleasure to walk through deep acres of trees. I don’t think I would have got to the end without them. Their shade stengthened our plans to plant as many as we can, especially having seen the loss and damage caused by ash dieback.
Apart from the joy of trees, another happiness of the Cotswold Way, especially as we had come straight from London, was that almost all of the over one hundred miles, are on footpaths through countryside and farmland. It even felt as if we had most of them to ourselves for much of each day, this perhaps due to the pandemic.
Occasionally, and especially as we neared Bath, we saw runners. It was the long distance, gazelle variety that so impressed. We learned from one that there was soon to be a relay race along the length of the course. We also heard of the 30 hour challenge – running the entire Cotswold Way within that time. I still find it difficult to understand how anyone can complete that run, let alone so quickly.
Our pace was barely visible in comparison. It was slow and peaceful, birdsong being the dominant sound. We didn’t listen to podcasts, music or audio books. We just walked, and talked, and when I was alone I just walked, happy to have the company of the small animals and the birds.
Blackbirds were my most frequent companions, flying down often on to path just ahead of me as though to check on what I was up to.
The other privilege of the Cotswold Way is walking through farmland. I walked down the edge of a shoulder high crop of barley, and we passed through and beside fields of livestock. There was no rubbish left anywhere.
One day of the walk took us through Sir James Dyson’s Dodington Estate. It looked beautiful. Even the lambs had that ‘little bit special’ look.
Which was not at all how I felt by the end of each day. My legs ached, my knees creaked, and my blisters expanded, especially towards the end.
But … the views were spectacular, England looked blissful, and every day there were wonderful messages urging me on, particularly from Katrina, and the ladies we walked with in Spain. And together we made it.
If you’re thinking of doing the Cotswold Way, I would highly recommend it. I think it’s a work of art … but I would advise a little more advance research than I did.
Finally, thanks again to Katrina for her passion about the Forever Friends appeal, and to you for your support. The combination has helped me to feel that I have been able to do something for her, and for others.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2021