Soon after finishing the South West Coast Path in the heatwave of July 2021, my thoughts turned to which National Trail to try next. Kat had often talked about doing all 14 National Trails in England and Wales in a single year (!), and had already done: Hadrian’s Wall, Thames Path and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Cotswold Way came out on top: at 102 miles it was doable in a week, Kat had enjoyed a weekend visit to the Cotswolds in November 2019, and it was reasonably accessible at about 2 hours west of London.
It turned out to be a great walk with epic panoramic views, lush deciduous woodlands, green rolling hills, pretty Cotswolds villages and charming accommodation. There were ancient hill forts, such as at Hinton, where only the grass covered ramparts gave a clue to its past. Not far from Pennsylvania (the one in South Gloucestershire) was a random ‘Message Box’ where walkers left their thoughts. The Belas Knap Long Barrow, south of Winchcombe, was over 5,500 years old and was constructed by prehistoric people as a place to bury their dead. Cam Long Down was as dramatic in real life as it appeared on the map. And just north of Ryeford, the trail even took me through a vineyard!
The key stats for the walk:
⁃ Total distance: 164 km / 102 miles
⁃ Total ascent: 3,852 metres / 12,638 feet
⁃ Total time on the trail: 39.2 hours over 6 days.
After the arduous SWCP, the trail was relatively gentle, although there were a few steep ascents / descents, such as up Stinchcombe Hill right out of Dursley.
As ever, Katrina was with me every step of the way and I dedicate every mile, every butterfly, every cooling breeze, every mushroom, every clump of moss, every stunning view, the joy, the pain and the experience to the love of my life.
Say ‘yeah why not’ and keep following the arrows.
These are some photos from the hike: