Cam to Painswick
Knowing that I had a shorter distance to cover today I clearly decided subconsciously to take an easier start to the morning. I struggled to get out of bed and even then everything seemed to take twice as long to sort out and pack. As I said, as the distance to be covered was shorter, I wasn’t too worried about it. Would I pay for this procrastination later? I guess we’ll see.
Vicky laid on a cracking breakfast, one of the best fry-ups I’ve had so far, and full to the brim I grabbed my gear and settled up for the night. We chatted for a bit about why I was doing the walk and she very generously donated £5 of the night’s charge towards the charity. She was a really nice lady so if you ever find yourself in Cam, stay there. Oh hang on, it’s the only place to stay in Cam!
The first part of today’s route took me out through Ashmead Green so I could pick up the Cotswold Way in Coaley Woods. Before reaching Coaley Woods though I had to negotiate Knapp Lane. Knapp Lane went on for about three quarters of a mile and, although not the steepest of hills, it became extremely draining. This was not a good thing as you will find out shortly.
As I entered Coaley Woods I was set upon by a very boisterous big black dog. It didn’t mean any harm but jumping up it almost toppled me over as the weight on my back shifted. Fortunately I didn’t end up on my backside. The owner came down the path and took hold of the dog and we started to chat about the walk. She told me that her cousin had a shop in John O’Groats which was a little bit of a strange coincidence. She very nicely offered me a coffee but as I’d only been on the road for an hour I politely declined her offer and carried on walking. Before that though she warned me that the path ahead was going to get a bit steep…joy!
Remember what I was saying Knapp Lane and how draining it was? Well, it was just the worse thing before the climb ahead, and I mean that literally. The path started off steep and got worse, and worse. I made it though, slowly, but I made it.
I guess you could say the climb was worth it as the views from Coaley Peak over the river Severn were amazing. Still, a view without the climb would have been nice for a change.
Another interesting thing to look at at Coaley Peak was the Nympsfield long barrow, a neolithic burial chamber dating back to about 2900 BC. The site was excavated in 1937 and 1974 and has since been partly restored.
Site seeing over with I hit the trail again through the woods, which took me all the way to Middleyard a few miles away. It was nice to be walking through the woods as the sun was again getting hot again so the shade was most welcome, although the wood path was a little awkward on my ankle, which I seemed to have aggravated during yesterday’s walk. One of the final bits of path was particularly awful and I nearly went over on it at least a couple of times yesterday. It didn’t feel too bad yesterday but it didn’t feel right while I was walking through the woods today, even using both of my walking poles.
With my ankle playing up a bit I wasn’t sure what was best to do so I thought I’d take a little break and think about it. As I was skirting round King’s Stanley I noticed a little “PH” sign on my map so I decided that a little rest in a pub, while having lunch, would allow me the time to think about what was best to do about my ankle. Decision made I headed towards the pub, only to find that it was no longer open for business – doh!
Spotting a bench over the road I trudged over, dropped my pack and took my boots off to eat my lunch. Looking at the maps I realised that to walk to Stroud, somewhere where I was likely to find a place to stay for the night, I would end up covering over half the distance I had left to Painswick. Looking at it that way, with the additional miles I’d have to make up tomorrow morning, I decided to take some pain killers and head for Painswick.
Making my way through Ryford I had to cross the railway line – using a bridge before you ask. As I made my way up the steps two ladies were taking a photo, one where my head now appears I suspect, so I apologised and we got chatting. They, like lots of people I’ve passed, were walking the Cotswold Way using the sherpa service, which basically means all your bags get ferried from one stop to the other making your walk considerably more comfortable. Maybe I should have thought about that, or would that be cheating? They asked for my website details, wished me luck and I was on my way again.
The final section of the walk through Westrip and Randwick was a complete nightmare. There were more hills than I could wave a stick at and I was really beginning to struggle. I soldiered on, taking a couple of breaks until I was half a mile away from Painswick, and heading down hill. This could mean only one thing – I’d very soon be heading back up hill again. Boy was I right! The final hill in to Painswick almost killed me and I spent most of it swearing at myself to get my sorry backside up the hill. It worked…just!
Thoroughly exhausted, feet hurting like mad I went to find a bed for the night. Feeling a little sorry for myself I headed straight for the Cotswold 88 hotel, took a room (don’t ask the price!) and soothed all my aches and pains in a very lush power shower.
Having free wifi in the hotel I made a Skype call to Russ, Matt and Rachel and best of all another to Alice and Elisa. They really helped to put a smile on my face after a very very tough day.
Calls made I popped out for a little walk/hobble around Painswick and ended up in the Royal Oak Inn for a pint and some dinner. Beginning to feel a little tired after all the hard work, I made my way back to my room to write up the day’s activities.
This was supposed to be a shorter, easier day, but in actual fact it turned out to be one of the hardest days for quite some time. I made it, just, which is something I should be happy about but it all but broke me today. Let’s hope the walk in to Gloucester is a slightly easier one.
One thing that’s becoming clear is the fact that I am probably walking the Cotswold Way the wrong way. I definitely seem to be doing more up hill than down hill! Maybe this is why I’m passing so many people doing it the other way?