One week ago, I took a stroll around the southern Cotswolds. Today, I’ve been out with The Ramblers on a more mid-range Cotswolds meander, beginning and ending in the often-bypassed village of Dursley.
It was actually a welcome change to be walking amongst others today, having not done so since November (when I was actually leading that walk). I’m never going to be the most sociable person in any group but there’s something warm about being amongst and sharing an experience with other people, even when it’s not expressed verbally.
This is one of those (very rare) posts where I’m going to struggle to find words to accompany the images. Someone else was leading this walk. It was rather nice to have a ‘day off‘ from being self-organised and to just enjoy the winter sunshine.
There isn’t much I could tell you about the local area and it would be hard for me, even now, to recall the names of each hill we climbed. I’d not even visited Dursley before. All that comes to mind is that one of my college tutors lived there – sadly, our paths didn’t cross on this day.
It’s surprisingly close to Bristol as well… I remember how much I used to endure the one-hour journey to Gloucester (and then back) in a past relationship. Cheltenham has also seemed so very far away. But Dursley… I’m sure it took me longer to reach Painswick or one of the other Stroud Valley villages… We should walk here more often!
As you can gather from the photos so far; we set off following the high street briefly before turning to climb up and through the woods. Like so much woodland at this time of year; these became increasingly boggy the deeper we travelled.
This walk was rather invitingly titled Downham Hill but, walking in an anti-clockwise direction, our path actually took as along a ridge-top path that looped around said hill (in the same way the Earth orbits the Sun). I think that’s Downham Hill in the photo above. But, if that is the case then, I think we also climbed it after lunch?!
After a brief initial climb to reach the woods in the beginning and, after making our way through so much trodden mud; we were asked to work hard before stopping for lunch after the first couple of hours.
Yes, it meant getting to the top of that monster above!
I’m looking at an online OS map but I cannot see Downham Hill referenced in order to determine a definite indication as to where we were…
But the views from the top were rewarding, to say the least! As often is the case up on the Cotswold Hills.
Much of the valley to the east of us, still shielded from the Sun, remained clean, icy and frozen.
So, straight after lunch and after a leisurely decent down one hill, we took our replenished energy and hiked to the top of this next hill, following the Cotswold Way.
Noting that last statement in the paragraph above; I think we might have been climbing Cam Long Down at this point, as the long-distance path runs over it and there’s a distinctly peak-shaped, conical hill further along the ridge.
I made my way to the top ahead of everyone else, including the walk leader, as a near-Domino-effect of bodies collapsed in a mud-fuelled chain reaction behind.
Again, the views of the county beneath spilled wide open. You could even gaze across the River Severn and on to the snow-capped Brecon Beacons.
From there, we followed the ridge to the top of Peak Down – without any doubt; our final ascent for the day!
We were grateful that the other side of this hill was so dry in comparison to the uphill section we so scarecely survived.
It would’ve made for a brown and sticky end to the walk, as we made our way back down in to Dursley. Still, there was nothing to stop the walk leader from taking an unexpected seat on the ground. It was only through ‘kindness‘ that I decided to not to take a photo as he struggled to regain his composure!
Nine-miles, three hills and my first group walk of the year. I’m certain I’ve said this before but I’ll be making a better effort to participate in more of other people’s walks this year. Familiar faces were keen to ask about walks I might be leading in 2015 and so I have that to duty to fulfil as well! We didn’t get to see as much snow that might have settled on Friday night but there’s nothing negative to take away from this experience.
Thanks for reading.
EDIT – I’ve just spotted Downham Hill on an online OS map as I come to publish this post! There’s no right of way passing over it so, we surely didn’t climb up or over it. It may also not be the one I’ve highlighted in my photographs… Still a little confused, here! 🙂