The Cotswold Way
110 Miles from Chipping Campden to Bath:
Day 3 Cleeve Hill to Birdlip (16 miles)
The thing is…I don’t mind walking 10+ miles in one go. I do it often at home, even once or twice a month.
But the challenge of a long walk is doing 10-15 miles day after day. In Cleeve Hill, on the morning of day 3, I was feeling good, not nearly as sore as I had anticipated being, but I was also a bit daunted by the 16 mile day ahead of us, and the one after that, and the one after that.
We started with a gorgeous breakfast and beautiful views, and then we were the first walkers to take our boots off of the shoe racks and get out and on with our day. It was a quick climb back up the hill from the village of Cleeve Hill which is just a little row of buildings hanging on to the side the hill.
We were in good spirits as we climbed that first hill.
It was cloudy, humid and windy!
The clouds were moving and changing quickly as we went.
In the distance you could see bits of clear sky and then they would be covered again.
But the day was supposed to warm up, so we carried on, grateful for the cloud cover.
We rounded Cleeve Common and then descended for a long stretch through a forest.
It was a long slog down from all the elevation we had gained the day before, but the paths were great and the sky started to clear.
Wild garlic blooms lined the paths through the woods.
It almost looked like the green-carpeted forest had been dusted with snow.
But of course, it was much too hot for snow.
We were glad to happen upon a farm shop for a smoothie and snack stop after coming off the hill.
After our quick rest, we climbed again.
Not as high as the day before, but still, we had a good amount of elevation to get back up to Charlton Kings Common with views across Cheltenham and the Severn Vale.
A man at the farm shop told us that this stretch was the prettiest bit of the whole Cotswold Way.
We can’t be sure, but it was a lovely stretch for sure.
But we were tired and starting to be hungry again by the time we reached the top of the hill.
Somewhere in our haste and fatigue, we took a wrong turn and came off the ridge a little too soon.
One detail about the Cotswold Way is that since it stretches so far, different folks manage the signage and it is not all uniform.
The trail is very well-marked, but the markings aren’t always the same color. AND there are some other trails that are easy to confuse with The Cotswold Way, such as The Cotswold Way Circular Walk.
This arrow pointing down fooled us because we were coming at this sign from the right of this photo and didn’t see the very clear markings on the front of this post until later when we came back from this wrong turn.
After that small mishap, we took the correct route down off of Charlton Kings Common and marched on. We felt close enough to our destination at this point that we decided we would push on and have an early dinner, but then we met a dog walker who told us that there was a great restaurant called the Star Bistro that we would pass in just a mile or two.
Great! We said. We would definitely stop there. We turned off the path to follow the signs to the Bistro that is set inside of a care home facility (which the restaurant’s proceeds benefit), but they were closed for the day in order to host a private event.
Disappointed, we sat on some picnic benches outside and had a snack.
I actually lied down on my back on the bench and closed my eyes for a few minutes.
Whatever steam I had woken up with that morning was long gone.
We still had 3 or 4 miles left to go and I was beat. We also had two more small hills to climb.
I was tempted to follow the road on the map and skip the last couple of hills, but once we got moving again, I knew I would stick to the path.
It had warmed up quite a bit, so I moved a little slower up Crikey Hill.
Onward we went along a ridge and up one more short hill, through another forest and down towards Birdlip, which we reached around 5:30pm.
I pretty much collapsed in the pub where we were staying. We immediately ordered beers and chips before even looking at the menu. We downed them quickly and then ordered dinner before we went for our showers. We were sweaty and gross, but too ravenous to care. I’m not even sure what we ate.
Then we went to our room, showered and fell into bed.
I can tell how tired I was at the end of a day on a walking trip by how few pictures I have, and on this day I literally only have this one photo of the Birdlip town sign. Apparently, I coud not even be bothered to photograph the pub where we stayed.
I think I slept really well this night, but honestly, even if I didn’t, I am sure I was happy to just not be moving for several hours.
I do remember that I checked the weather (as always) before bed and warned Kandace that tomorrow there would be rain, and lots of it.