Monday, 14 May 2012

Cotswold Way - Day 3 - Winchcombe to Dowdeswell

Well, I needn't have worried about not quite finishing the previous leg.  By parking in the Back Lane car park I follow the Town Centre signs to come out exactly where I finished last time.  I take a diversion to get a picture of the Winchcombe stocks.  I am sure there must be a good reason why they have holes for seven legs in the stocks but have no idea what it is. 


It's a steep climb from Winchcombe up to Belas Knapp, in fact I think it might be the longest climb of the route, though I confess I need to investigate that in a bit more detail.  The views were good though. I know because I stopped to admire them plenty of times as I caught my breath.  

Belas Knap is a burial chamber dating back from around 3,800 BC.  The picture is of the false front.  As I arrive there an Australian couple are just leaving and a retired couple from Rutland have arrived a minute or two before me.  I get to chat with them and it turns out that all five of us are doing the same stages today and tomorrow.  We'll bump into each other several times as we walk and build up a bit of friendly camaraderie as we walk.    

It's very windy and quite cold up so high but if you keep moving it isn't so bad.  I finish the coffee from my flask and push on.  I walk down through a beautiful wooded path but it's very steep and actually, despite being downhill, it's probably the most painful part of the day's walk.  Also, in the back of your mind (well, in the front to be honest) there is the knowledge that for every step downhill there will be a corresponding step up hill to come and more, because I'm approaching Cleeve Hill and the highest point of the Cotswold Way.  
To this novice walker, it's hard work but it's well worth it, the views at the top are incredible.  

It's slightly odd to get to the top of a steep climb to end up on a golf course, stranger still that there are nervous looking sheep occupying the same space.  But there are golfers and grazers on Cleeve Common, I even spot lambs in a bunker on one of the holes.  Clearly got a baa-ed lie.  


Here it is, the highest point on the Cotswold Way, proof that I made it. 

The views are spectacular but sadly Blogger says the panoramas that I took from there are too big to post.  I can see why, they are big views!  So I'll link in with my Flickr account to post some of those later.  It's very windy up there and I am blown around a bit just trying to take photographs.  It must be a nightmare to play golf in.  But what views!

Anything will be a bit of a comedown after such heights and the nature reserve I walk through is pretty uninteresting to be honest.  Maybe it's the wrong time of year.  Much more dispiriting though is the sight, just past some disused quarries, of dumped rubbish.  Drinks cartons and bottles mainly but particularly vexing and perplexing is the old tyre that someone has gone to great lengths to dump in the middle of a beauty spot.  They must have had to travel some distance to do this.  Morons.  It does, at least, serve to highlight the lack of litter on the rest of the walk, so far.

Heading towards Dowdeswell is a lovely gentle downhill walk, just what the doctor ordered when you are approaching the ten mile mark.  The sun is out as well and it makes for a very pleasant end to the day's walking.

If I had one complaint about the day (and it seems churlish to complain about anything at all on such a lovely stretch) it is the complete lack of facilities along this section.  With the possible exception of the golf clubhouse (I really should have taken a look) there are no toilets, places to get coffee or buy food anywhere.  So it is a great joy to come across a house at Dowdeswell Reservoir who is offering tea, coffee, chocolate bars and the like at very reasonable prices.  If you are walking there do drop in at Langett.  Just ring the bell at the bottom of the drive and shut the gate before you walk up the drive so thatthe free range chickens don't get out.  I sat in their garden with a cup of tea and a Mars bar and it revives my spirits almost as much as the friendly welcome from my hosts.  They are Cotswold Way people and also offer a range of Cotswold Way goodies.  I buy a relief map before I leave; I will get it framed as my reward when I finish.  It's a welcome break, a little oasis and the world feels like a better place for the existance of such places.   

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