Totally wiped out today. I meandered around the city for a couple hours and stumbled onto this scene.
I eventually ended up in the Roman spa museum. Very cool, very well preserved imperial Roman site. It lay buried, forgotten and preserved for nearly 1,500 years. The lead lining of the pool was so precisely laid that it is still water tight 2,000 years later.
After my historical excursion I headed back to the hotel, napped and watched a 2-hour documentary about Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. It took an unusual amount of will to peel myself off the bed and do some more exploring.
I went to a gin bar and had a decent but overpriced cocktail. And now I’m eating a very American meal at one of the only restaurants still serving food on a Monday at 8pm.
There’s another cocktail bar around the corner. I think I’ll see if I can find a fitting nightcap and call it a night. Copenhagen tomorrow.
I am sitting in the tiny courtyard of my Bath hotel. My cigar is down to a nub. Oddly, the cry of seagulls cuts through the now foreign and otherwise deafening electric drone of the building’s utilities machinery.
Not more than two hours ago, I bid farewell to Bart and Ronny. If either of you end up reading this, I want to say again, thank you for your companionship. I hope that our paths cross again. I could not have asked for better company.
It’s time to reflect on my adventure.
Here are the cold hard facts:
- Days walking: 7
- Miles traversed: 102 plus a few lost and not so lost wanderings
- Elevation gain: 12,000 + feet
- Days with rain: 2
- Heart palpitating sunsets: 2
- Pubs visited: 22
- Pints of real ale consumed: 38
- Varieties of real ale consumed: 35
- Cigars smoked: 7
- Ounces of medicinally applied whiskey: 7
- Pointless alliterative phrases penned: 11
- Friends made: 2
- Episodes of joyfully induced tears: 3
- Randy Newman songs spontaneously hummed or sung: too many to count
Fascinating foot facts (make that 12 pointless alliterative phrases penned):
- Blisters: 3
- Sacrificed toenails: 1
- Incidents of medical treatments applied: 14
There is no way to articulate what this trip has meant to me. I wrote in my initial post that I viewed this adventure as “sustenance for my metaphysical me,” and that’s exactly what it was. I can’t, in good conscience, characterize it as “recharging the batteries” or by employing some other trite phrase. This was something I dreamt about for half my life and my entire adult life. I was afraid it wouldn’t deliver. But it did.
Thank you all for sharing in my adventure. I know there are a number of you who took more than a mild interest in this enterprise. I hope with all sincerity that each of you can identify your own Cotswold constitutional and have the courage to take the chance to be enchanted.
I am now, and will forever be, the Pedestrian.
THE LAST drops of the thundershower had hardly ceased falling when the Pedestrian stuffed his map into his pocket, settled his pack more comfortably on his tired shoulders, and stepped out from the shelter of a large chestnut tree into the middle of the road. A violent yellow sunset was pouring through a rift in the clouds to westward, but straight ahead over the hills the sky was the colour of dark slate. Every tree and blade of grass was dripping, and the road shone like a river.
Those of you who have peppered me with questions on facebook, please send me direct messages if you are still interested in the particulars of the trip. This, of course, will not be the last of my entries here. I still have a few more days to explore England and will be in Copenhagen for a few days. Stay tuned.
I walked all day amidst a shower to arrive in Bath. It rained for about 5 hours of the 6 hour, 17-mile walk.
At times it was cold and the whole time it was wet. I had lunch at a gas station, and actually, it wasn’t bad. About half way in, I caught up to the Belgian duo and walked the rest of the day with them. All in all, a good way to finish up my walkabout.
The weather broke for a short stint as we came down over the hill into Bath, it was like the weather gods were granting us one little mercy for our efforts. A couple of blocks before the actual end of the path, we stopped at an old traditional pub, The Star Inn. We had a couple of A+ pints and I got to see something I’d never seen before, 2 kilderkins (18-gallon casks), both filled with Bass. They dispense by the pint or pitcher.
102 plus miles and my Cotswolds constitutional is at a close. I’ll write up a full conclusion tomorrow. Right now, I’m at a little bit of a loss for words. I’ve had such a great time and met some awesome people. Now on to some more pubs.
Today’s walk was fantastic. There were clear and sunny skies and it was downright warm at times.
Walking out of Wonton Under Edge, I stumbled into a 17th-century almshouse – medieval pubic housing for the needy. In the peaceful courtyard was a tiny chapel where the residents were required to worship daily.
The landscape consisted mainly of rolling hills and wide open pastures, which made for a much more leisure walk of 16 miles.
I crossed through a number of very small villages each remarkably charming, even Thomas Kinkade-esque, and warm but completely quiet. One of the joys of this hike is walking out of a pasture or wood and walking passed these beautiful homes.
These villages are often too small for a single store, although occasionally there might be a solitary pub. By the time I came to a village with a pub on the route, they just finished serving lunch. So I downed a quick pint and hit the road to Tomarton. My Belgian buddies are staying at an inn down the street, so I plan to meet up with them for dinner (at the only pub in town) in about an hour.
Tomorrow will be the last day of walking. It’s a long 17 miler with no place to stop between here and Bath.
I have a tendency to look at vacations in a cup-half-empty kind of way. I find myself moping about how it will soon be over and dreading the return to the mundane. But oddly, on the mother of all vacations, I’m looking forward to completing the hike. There were a few times when I thought my foot would prevent me from finishing but now that I’m so close, I might be willing to crawl to Bath.
It has been a joyful grind. This must be satisfaction – getting exactly what you want to such a degree that you don’t crave more. How often in life are we ever satisfied in such a way? Good for me. High fives all around.
Happiness as halt of holiday hastens
Today was mostly fun. The Belgians stumbled into the Old Spot not long after I posted my lunch update. We shared a pint and hit I the footpath. I was two miles from my final destination when I started to ascend a large hill with a monument to local historical celebrity William Tyndale.
By the time I got to the monument, I started to become concerned about the trail markers. They didn’t seem to match up to my map. I’ve learned to just trust in the markers so I kept going. After a steep decline, I dropped into the outskirts of town. Figuring it was my final stop, I started trying to get my bearings. I soon realized I was not where I thought I was. It was about this point when a familiar voice called me from the building I was standing in front of. There, with his totally bald top of his head but long hair all the around the sides, was Bart the Belgian calling to me from the second story of his inn, an inn I had passed two hours earlier. I managed to walk in a giant 2-mile circle.
Rather than climb the hill again to find the right path, we walked another 2 miles down the road into Wotton Under Edge. Luckily, we found one of the pubs we were looking for right away. Then we found the second pub and had a few more beers.
Apparently, Wotton Under Edge is a really popular stop because there was no available lodging in the town. My B&B is 4 miles back up the path, but the owners came and picked me up and will drop me back where I left off. According to the owner of the B&B, there was a big landslide on Tyndale hill, which messed up the trail.
I’m exhausted. Until tomorrow.
8 miles down, 7 to go. I’m sitting in one of England’s most decorated real ale pubs. The Old Spot in Dursley with 7 pumps, serves up an ungodly amount of real ale. If the number of handles did not fully articulate this fact, the parking lot made it abundantly clear.
Usually I try to hurry through lunch but today I think I’ll wait for the Belgians and take my time.
It was a long day. A hard day. There were parts that were pure work.
Start at the beginning: Big old English breakfast. During breakfast, I met my first Cotswold Way buddies. Bart and Ronny, Belgians, completed the first third of the trail a year ago and are back to tackle the two-thirds. Turns out, they were staying at the same B&B with me in Kings Stanley.
The walk started with forest. Lots of forest. The most notable portion of the morning walk was Cooper’s Hill. Famous for its injury inducing cheese wheel race, Cooper’s Hill has been closed in recent years to stop people from hurting themselves for the sake of cheese.
More forests for a total of 6.5 miles, whereupon I entered the village of Painswick.
The village has a famous church with a cool graveyard and a lot of Yew Tress, 99 to be exact.
I had lunch at a local pub. As I was finishing, my Flemmish speaking pals stumbled in. We talked for a bit and I hit the trail to finish the last 10.5 miles. 10.5 grueling, sole crushing miles (see what I did there?). God, my feet hurt. But I’m a winner, not a quitter, so I opted to take the much longer stupid “scenic route” through Stonehouse, which sent me up a stupid steep hill where I took this stupid picture.
Coming back down the hill, I was in such distress that I opted to take a good long draught off the vitamin W from the flask. This little bit of liquid fortitude helped me make it to my B&B in Kings Stanley. The Belgians and I walked down to the pub and had many pints. Turns out one of them is a homebrewer, so we talked mostly beer.
One fun thing about walking alone is that my mind can wander. Often I find myself trying to work out some limerick or turn some words. More often than not, the result of my musings turn silly. Here’s a great morbid example. The link picture is not pleasant, so don’t click, unless, you know, you want to know.
Here’s something that I don’t think any of my friends and family in the land of eternal summer can possibly wrap their sweaty heads around: I’m sitting in front of a crackling fire – and it’s exactly where I want to be.
Today started out brilliantly sunny. I hoofed it up to the highest point of the trail, Cleeve Hill. I was worried about my foot but, luckily, Anna convinced me to pack some moleskin foot pads, which ended relieving my heel and making my day so much more enjoyable.
Today’s walk was front loaded with about 8 miles of pure vista. The trail followed the top of an escarpment that runs the edge Cheltenham. As a result, there were plenty of ups and downs.
I knew there was going to be rain this afternoon so I beat my beat feet to the end point. I finished the 16 miles in the same amount of time of the first 10 miles of the first leg of the hike. Despite my best efforts, I still ended up hiking 2 hours in light rain but luckily, the most vertical portions were behind me at that point. To be perfectly honest, I was looking forward to hiking in the rain. I don’t want to be wet the whole trip, but I figure that an English hike without rain is like an Old Fashioned without an orange peel.
Road weary and slightly bone chilled, this fire is a very welcome fixture.
I’m hoping that I can convey the variety of the trail by the time I am finished with this blog. Almost every mile reveals different scenery. Today, I leave you with a picture of a common forest view.
Racing rain results in rapid relaxation