Walking the Cotswold Way Skyline

There are a couple of more recent walks that I would like to write about today but I’ve realised that I still haven’t shared the experience of walking the Cotswold Way along the skyline route, near Cheltenham a couple of weeks ago. This was led by another member of the Brunel Walking Group. Apparently, it was also his first walk-leading experience and I for one think he did very well (I certainly wouldn’t have guessed it). Some of the details from that day are bound to have slipped my mind in the time that has since passed but, one thing I cannot forget is the heat from that day…

Cooper’s Hill – home of Cheese Rolling!

We started off (after meeting up in Bristol) at a lay-by car park on the western outskirts of the village of Cranham (apparently, it’s home to Lilly Allen among other celebrities, if you really wanted to know…). From there, we climbed up through the woods to reach the peak of Cooper’s Hill, which is perhaps best known as the site of Gloucestershire‘s annual Cheese Rolling event!

But we weren’t there to roll cheese…

It really is far more steep than you may at first realise and, when you notice the house at the bottom of what appears to be a very steep hill; you can’t help but wonder about the number of casualties that may be involved with this each year. It’s closed off from public access for the rest of the time in order to try to prevent the rate of erosion on the hill.

From there we made our way on towards Crickley Hill; passing this building through one of the fields (I honestly forget the word here… Was it an old Roman Villa?!). Regardless; it looked as though close access was denied to the passing public. Still, that didn’t stop one European-sounding family from hopping the fence as we moved forward!

I don’t particularly like ‘cows’…

In one of the next fields, we had to negotiate our way past of herd of what I assumed were only cows… But, according to our resident Herdsman (and hero of the day), they were in fact bullocks. Having worked on a farm, he knew how to handle them. He wasn’t afraid and we were just able to make our way safely through the kissing gate (I took this photo immediately after passing through).

I couldn’t see any horns on those ones, which was why I would’ve assumed they were less threatening. In two of my own more recent walks, ‘devil cows’ have been a feature that I’m sure you’ll get to read about soon!!

We passed a calming reservoir (much needed after the beef encounter…) where fishing is permitted in some areas. Further ahead, we notice a few horses who were certainly dressed for the occasion.

Too hot for horses.

I’m now beginning to remember that most of these photos have already appeared on Instagram, which is one reason why I’d not previously added them to a set on Flickr. All photos were taken using my smart phone, which explains the persistent ‘blob’ towards the top left-hand corner of each shot.

We stopped to rehydrate in a nearby churchyard, after a passing local had very kindly informed us of the availability of an accessible water tap behind the church itself.

Sun Dial Clock – one hour behind BST!

What I enjoyed most about this stop (aside from the break in the shade) was the sun dial-style clock mounted high on one of the walls (…Even though it appeared to be one-hour behind).

A few more fields amongst lots of wild overgrowth (one reason I rarely wear shorts on a walk) eventually lead us to the beginning of our long climb up to Crickley Hill; the toughest part of the day where, upon reaching the top, we would stop for lunch and take in the extraordinary views.

North-westerly views from Crickley Hill.

From there, it was mostly level and then downhill, although we were still exposed to the sweltering sunlight while following the ridge line. Even while descending down through a nature reserve on our return to the car park, there was little more than a warm breeze to keep us cool… I remember following a path created by these great tyre tracks; each one must’ve been close to 4ft wide… That was uncomfortable. All I’m saying is that it’s rare to experience pain in that area of my body while I’m out walking! :-S

Our intended pub stop resulted in arrival at a set of locked doors so, we jumped back in to our cars and headed off for another stop at a tavern more sensible in keeping their doors open while the Wimbledon tennis final was drawing to a close… I’ve never been a huge tennis fan but it was great to be able to catch the last game or match and of course, to be able to witness a Brit take victory, shortly before the return journey to Bristol! That pint of coke was very cold and very welcome.

In spite of the many insect bites and nips I received that day, it was great to see different part of the countryside another side of the Cotswolds. We don’t seem to visit this area as often as we visit the Mendips or even Wales (as a group) and that’s one of the reasons I’m grateful to be a member; for a chance to experience somewhere new.

Thanks for reading.

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