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Along with my friend Alicia, I recently journeyed by foot along The Cotswold Way, one of the beautiful National Trails here in the UK.  I like to be as analogue as possible when not at work so I documented the journey visually (also as I was too tired to write!) and have shared it below.   I hope it is useful and perhaps inspiring to some.  For reference, we are in our mid-forties and fairly fit!

 

Top 10 learnings:

 

1. Take less than you think you need, especially if you are carrying your own pack .  My pack was 12.5kg and this was too much really.   Afterwards I worked out that I could have made do with much less.  At the end of this page I have made a list of everything I took, and used. Don't forget water - I used 2 litres a day in a camelbak (much easier than faffing with bottles) and it was not particularly hot. 

 

2.  This trail does include some pretty cotswold towns but essentially it is a walking route, taking in woodland, views, farmland and parkland.  Do not expect a leisurely bimble.

 

3.  There are hills, hills and more hills!   More than you expect!  This, combined with the heavy back pack took a toll on my knees and legs so I would recommend doing some strength training before hand.  Alicia did this, I didn't, and she fared much better than I! 

4. Book ahead - accommodation will be booked up, especially in the summer - we booked in January for August.  A list of accommodation and mileage is at the bottom of the page.

5. Take maps just in case, but the trail is mostly well signposted.   We used the below book which has the OS maps in a handy little booklet (saves buying all of the OS maps as the trail crosses a few of them), although I would not advise carrying the book itself as it is heavy!   We also took a Harvey Map, which is light and gives a good overview of the trail, but less detailed and not essential.  We also used OS maps online (subscription based) which was easy and we liked as it gives you stats each day.

 

6. Be aware that there are not always towns or villages where you can pick up food so always have a packed lunch and/or snacks to get you through.  Not all acommodation does food so plan ahead.  Our motto became 'if you see it and it looks nice, eat it!'.  Look out for:  Hayles Fruit Farm and Dunkerton's Cider Mill - both excellent food stops, which we discovered on the day!

7. Think about the length of your day.   We ended up walking for much longer than predicted because of the hills.   We completed in 7 days but, to me, this felt quite rushed.  I would recommend 10 minimum for an average walker.

8. Go with the flow.  You will meet interesting people - take time to listen and be open minded.  Be kind to yourself and others - ask if they need help.  You and your companions will have highs and lows - be aware and support when needed.  Respect the areas you walk through, bearing in mind that locals may see many walkers each day.

9.  Drink in the views - they are awesome, and enjoy being in nature. 

10.  Feel blessed for the opportunity to walk this beautiful trail.

 

Day 1:  Chipping Campden to Stanton:

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Day 2:  Stanton to Postlip:

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Day 3:  Postlip to Birdlip: 

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Day 4:  Birdlip to Middleyard:

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Day 5:  Middleyard to North Nibley:

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Day 6:  North Nibley to Tormarton:

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Day 7:  Tormarton to Bath:

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List of kit that was used and I would take again:                     List of accommodation and distances:    

VISUAL JOURNEY - The Cotswold Way
'To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature'

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