Day 16

on May 26, 2010 | 5 comments

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Bath to Old Sodbury

Last night was a little bit more of a subdued affair after the night before. Yes, Stu and I went out but it was just round the corner for a very nice pizza – my shout to say thanks for being so great and letting me crash a little longer than planned – and then it was back to the flat to watch a film. We watched Ninja Assassin which as it goes was a pretty good film if you like that sort of thing if course. Great fight scenes for sure.

Once that was done I sorted my stuff out ready for the morning and tried to get some sleep. I guess the walk ahead was playing on my mind as I lay there until well gone midnight, wide awake and not able to switch off.

I’m not sure exactly when I eventually dropped off but I awoke around 6:30am and waited for my alarm to go off. Stu was up and about early so I thanked him once again for being so great and he went to work.

I sorted myself out and hit the road just gone 8am and made my way out of Bath, in the fresh air of the morning; a welcome change to the heat of the previous days. Bath’s a lovely place and the past couple of days have been great, so it was with a little sadness I made my way through the streets to pick up the Cotswold Way.

One thing about Bath…there are quite a few hills, and to hit them at the start of the day, after not having walked for a couple of days, was a real wake up call to my legs. I don’t really remember too much of the beginning of the walk as, as Stu put it, it was head down and drive in true Bath style up the hills.

It wasn’t until I reached the site of the Battle of Lansdown that I actually started to take note of where I was and what was around me.

The battle was held on the evening of the 5th July 1643 as part of the English Civil War. After the earlier stages of the battle the parliamentarians were forced to take position behind the wall I was stood next to. Ok, it probably wasn’t the exact wall but that’s where it all took place.

It was interesting to read about the battle but it was more interesting to find out that the battlefield area is still pretty much exactly as it was back in 1643. You could see why the landscape played such a vital role in the eventual outcome of the battle.

Having spent a reasonable amount of time finding all that out I thought I’d better get back on the trail and carry on with the day’s miles. Standing around wasn’t going to get me to Old Sodbury very quickly that’s for sure, especially as the trail looked as though it was about to get interesting and by that I mean hilly!

Sure enough, no sooner had I left the battle monument the path started to head downwards. Not a problem I hear you say, but I learnt early on in this walk that what goes down invariably always goes back up again…and it did!

After negotiating yet another field of cows – they were actually blocking the path so I carefully went round them – the climb back up started. It wasn’t too bad and I thought that if that was it, not a problem. That, as it goes, turned out to be a foolish thought as I soon found myself climbing up to Hill Farm, and it’s called that for a very, very good reason!

By now the day was beginning to heat up a bit which made the hill climb a little on the uncomfortable side. Still, upon reaching the top I was greeted with a stunning view over the landscape below.

A much smaller hill climb later I made my way through Cold Ashton, a lovely little place, past the very large manor house and through the churchyard. I thought it a little strange that the Cotswold Way would take you through the churchyard but it was a lovely little church, which was nice.

Cutting across a farmer’s field to Pennsylvania I stopped to chat to an American couple walking in the opposite direction. They were making their way to Bath along the Cotswold Way. We talked for a little bit about my LEJOG walk and they told me that they met another guy doing the walk the day before.

With the sun gettng a little bit hotter, coming in to Dyrham Wood was a welcome relief as he shade was lovely. Standing there having a drink an old guy jogged by, then stopped and asked me where I was walking to. I told him the ultimate goal upon which he told me he did it last year, in 63 days! Now that’s hardcore. We had a really good chat as we strolled through the wood and then he was off running again, training for a sponsored run coming up. Clearly he’s a lot fitter than I am?!

Dyrham came and went and I soon found myself crossing the M4, using a bridge and not playing chicken with the traffic! This was a big milestone for the day and really hit home that finally, I’d turned the corner and was actually walking up the country now – hurrah! This also meant that I was now level with home and souh Wales. All very pleasing thoughts.

Not havng eaten yet I stopped at the Compass Inn in Tormarton and treated myself to a very nice sandwich and a pint of orange juice and lemonade. It was quite a nice pub but I spotted something that would definitely be up Stu’s alley…all manor and colour of sambuca! I guess it’s somewhere I’ll have to drive him to when I’m done with the walking to say thanks again for his hospitality?

Old Sodbury was only a couple of miles away so after the break I put my boots on and went for the final leg, which took me across the very nice Dodington Park.

Finally in Old Sodbury I made my way to the Dog Inn to gt a refreshing pint and to see if they had any rooms for the night. They did – bonus- and upon finding out I was walking for charity Joan, the land lady, gave me £20 back to go towards my sponsorship and also moved me to a room with a bath so I could have a good soak. Lovely lady.

I did indeed have a nice soak and after speaking to Alice and Elisa I popped to the bar for dinner and another beer. After last night’s pizza I was still in a bit of an Italian mood so I ended up having a very nice lasagna and some olives and bread. All very yummy and extremely filling.

The Cotswold Way was a section of the walk I’d been really looking forward to doing and I’m pleased to say that today’s walk was highly enjoyable, full of lush green countryside and a mixture of woods and farm land. I can only hope that the rest of the ninety or so miles left of the Cotswold Way are just as enjoyable.

As far as the new boots go, they didn’t make my already hurting feet – yes, even after a couple of days off – any worse so I hope this means that maybe, just maybe, they might pet the old aches and pains sort themselves out. Only time will tell on that one!

Photos and Route Details

If you want to find out more about this day you can see the photos I took or view the route details.

5 Comments

  1. Hag

    May 27, 2010

    Sounds like regardless of the hills you had a very enjoyable day and the couple of extra rest day did you the world of good, which is always a good thing. I’m glad the new boots appear to be helping you although judgement shall be reserved until further on in the walk, hopefully thats the feet thing fairly sorted now.

    If it’s one thing that can brighten the spirit when you feel tht nothing else can go wrong, it’s that unexpected little spark of human kindness, whether a small donation, a free sandwich, or getting moved to a room with a bath.

    It may not make up for the pain in your feet/ankles/knee’s/back/shoulders (am i making you feel old yet) but it must feel REALLY good knowing there are still people out there with REAL emotions who are willing to do small things without being asked just to make certain parts of your day that little bit more bearable.

    Keep up the good work matey and congrats on making it over the M4!

  2. Matt

    May 27, 2010

    Hag you really have just said everything I wanted to say! great milestone turning the corner bruv!!

  3. Ian

    May 27, 2010

    Did you not read the paper last week cuz, there was an ex squadie who did the walk in 29 days last month !!!! He walked every day from 6.45am til 7pm and ran the last 20 miles ! Now thats hardcore lol. Still he had back up support and probably didn’t carry a heavy pack. Glad to hear you are up and running again though. Watch out for them there cows. Cheers Ian.

  4. Stu

    May 27, 2010

    Fair play for dealing with those hills, they are not small.

    So, we’re off to the Compass huh? You’re on. I am definitely very interested to check out the sambuca. 🙂

    You’re doing damn well, so keep up the good work. I just hope you make it out of Glawster in one piece. Not my favourite place on earth. 😉 (Allez Bath!)

    Enjoy the Cotswolds and remember, that proper ale country up there! Hook Norton et. al.

    • Darren

      May 27, 2010

      The Compass is now following me on Twitter 🙂 Not sure how they got to me but there you go. I’ll gladly drive you out there when I’m down next!

      Somerset didn’t seem to last long, much like Devon. I can’t believe I’m now in yet another county!? I think the Cotswold Way is about 100 miles long…I’ve now done 34 or so of those miles already. It won’t be long before that’s done at this rate.

      Glawster, as you put it, is only 20 miles away. Two shorter days ahead…hurrah!