Old Sodbury to Cam
Fortunately the torrential rain from yesterday evening had dissipated and this morning was a clear, fresh – almost cold – morning, just right for walking.
After a good breakfast I was on back on the Cotswold Way at 8:35am and attacking the first of many hills of the day, and that was just getting out of Old Sodbury! Soon after the hill up past the school in Old Sodbury I was back in the countryside and making my way to Little Sodbury and Horton, navigating yet more cows, but getting some great views.
Out the other side of Horton I was yet again greeted with a nice hill and as I started to make my way up it I unfortunately disturbed a bull who was just about to have his wicked way with a cow exactly where I needed to walk! As I walked by, after they’d moved out of the way, I apologised to the bull, who was now giving me a bit of an evil look – I made my way swiftly to the gate in to the woods just to be on the safe side. The woods were full of white flowers (don’t know what they were, sorry) and the path was very pretty indeed.
Making my way past Hawkesbury there was a very tall monument called “Somerset Monument”. This was erected in 1846 in memory of General Lord Robert Somerset, a general at Waterloo. The imposing, slightly tapering square tower is approximately 100 feet high.
After that little find the walk returned to a mixture of rolling hills, woodland and open fields, all of which made for some lovely photos but to be honest, not the most interesting thing to talk about. Once you’ve seen one field you’ve seen them all.
Around lunch time I came in to Wotton-under-Edge, by which time my feet were beginning to ache a little and my tummy was feeling a little empty after the morning’s walking. So, walking through the high street – up the hills again! – I came across a sign for the Swan Hotel, an inn dating back to the 17th century. Sounded great so I made my way along Market street, entered, ordered my now customary orange juice and lemonade and got myself a sandwich. All ordered I dumped all the gear, took my boots off and rested for half an hour.
I’m glad I decided to take the rest because no sooner had I rejoined the Cotswold Way I was making my way up an absolutely corker of a hill, Wotton Hill. By now I was beginning to feel a little bit conned by the two ladies I spoke to over breakfast this morning. They said that there were some big hills ahead but not to worry, I’d be going down them. Nothing could be further from the truth! This was horrid and even after the rest I was completely shattered by the time I reached the top. Unsurprisingly, the view from the top of this very steep, very big hill was absolutely stunning, which I suppose made the struggle worth while…maybe.
After admiring the view, i.e. as I stood there holding my sides trying to catch my breathe and looking out over the patchwork landscape below, I cooled off walking through Westridge wood, where the Cotswold Way took a very meandering path. Instead of just going through the woods in a nice sensible fashion it wandered over here, then over there and at one point I was almost convinced that I was going round in circles, checking my GPS to make sure I was still indeed heading in the right direction.
Once through the wood, and up yet another hill, I came across another monument. Similar to the previous monument earlier this one was erected in 1866 in memory of William Tyndale, the first person to translate the bible into English.
The views from the top of Nibley Knoll – no, I’ve not made that up – were absolutely stunning. I could see the Severn Bridge off in the distance and look over all the miles I’ve covered over the previous days pretty much.
The way down from Nibley Knoll (puts a smile on my face every time I write that) was steep and rather awkward. The 200ft decent was down a not very wide muddy path. Someone had made some steps in the path but to be honest, these to me just made the going harder, especially with the pack on my back.
Safely down, and walking along Nibley Green I looked ahead and almost gave up there and then. The next hill I had to tackle was even bigger than Nibley Knoll (the smile’s still there) and by now I was really beginning to feel pretty wiped out from it all, especially as the sun was again getting quite warm. Time to grit the teeth, put the head down and just go for it!
I was doing ok until I reached the top of the first bit of the hill where the heat of the afternoon was just too much so I dropped the gear, took my boots off and sat there, not moving, for a few minutes. The hope was that this little break would give me enough energy to make the final couple of miles. My fingers were well and truly crossed on that one!
Shortly before Dursley the final hill climb for the day lay before me. I didn’t want to do it as it just went up and on at such a steep angle I could have cried. In actual fact it was only a couple of hundred yards from bottom to top but it did go up a couple of hundred feet in that short distance and by the time I made it to the top the sweat was dripping from me…literally.
Almost stumbling along by now I crossed Dursley golf course, the end of the day’s journey tantalisingly close. One thing I’d not noticed on my map was the fact that to get to Cam I’d have to go down the 200ft I’d just struggled up…doh! At the other side of the golf course, through more woods the path dropped away very sharply and it was all I could do to stop myself from falling down it, especially as the path was not exactly easy to negotiate with the weight of the pack trying to push me down the hill quicker than my legs could handle.
With a massive sigh of relief I reached the road in to Cam and that was when the search for somewhere to stay for the night began. Now, Cam’s not exactly a small place and I thought to myself that there must be a pub or something that would have rooms for the night but as it happens the only place in Cam to stay is Foresters bed and breakfast. Other than that the only other place in the area to stay at was back in Dursley. What do people do when they need to stay in Cam? Or is it that Cam isn’t a place anyone wants to visit?!
Anyway, I managed to get a room at the Foresters, cleaned myself up and waited to phone the girls. They were both hilarious on the phone tonight, Alice telling me that she’d just done two bottom burps. This cracked me up and we both just laughed and laughed. They always put a huge smile on my face every day no matter how much pain I’m in after the day’s walking.
That done I popped along the road, very thankful for buying the other shoes I can tell you, where I bought sausage and chips for dinner and popped in to Tesco to get some food in for tomorrow’s walk.
The scenery along the Cotswold Way has again been stunning but I must admit, the hills have really taken it out of me today. Granted, I’ve been suffering with my chest again today which was annoying as I thought it was a lot better this morning. I’ve been taking something for it which might be doing some good but it seems to be taking an awful long time to clear up. Hopefully it’ll be sorted soon and I can get back up to full steam again.