Looking back on Day 8 of 8 on the Cotswold Way – yes that’s right, finish line day!
We clocked this day in at 15 kilometers and just over 5 hours back in July – wrapping up before the sun was sweltering but still warm enough that the cold ‘finish line’ pint in the ONLY pub with air conditioning in all of Bath felt amazing. In fact, it felt epic!
We kicked the day off as early as possible as part of our continued ‘beat the heat wave’ strategy. We were staying in Bath so had to arrange taxi transport from our B&B back to Cold Ashton to start our walk back to Bath (where the finish line is for the Way).
Our walking company had arranged the taxi to pick us up at 930am originally but in light of the 35C temps we expected by noon that was no longer going to work! Chatting direct with the taxi company, they agreed to change it to 6am for us. We had to skip our included breakfast at the B&B but totally worth it! We were on the trail for 630am and the temperature was really comfortable of hours. That 3.5 hour difference would likely mean a 10C difference – that’s a big deal!
Much of the day (morning really) was spent walking though fields of cattle or crops. Most had wide open views of the hills and other fields around us – the sense of being small in such a big space was fantastic!
The path today was ‘easy’ in that it was a lot of rolling up and downhill – not the dramatic, heart pumping climb in and out of every town we had grown used too. The trail and the views were still spectacular mind you! Recognizing that we would soon be playing in Bath and London and the views would be all city scape and not these beautiful green hills – we had to snap one more selfie ‘up top’. So lush!
A little bovine excitement …
One of the fields we crossed had a ‘Bull in Field’ sign. While we appreciate the heads up, the warning can make you a little more nervous than is maybe warranted. I could have probably crossed this field blissfully unaware that Mr Bull was present but the sign had me on high alert. (Refer back to terrifying Bull vs Brande of 2008 on Hadrian’s Wall incident here for background lol)
We stayed together walking with a pep in the ole step to the rock stile (steps up and over the field’s rock wall perimeter) where we would leave the field behind – no reason to dilly dally even if Mr Bull was being entertained by his ladies in the far corner.
As luck has it though, when we stared our trek across the very long field, the cattle also made their move and started to make their way to the same end of the field we were headed towards. But no worries folks – our graceful, stealth like hiking skills had us at the rock fence well before the beef arrived. In fact, we were so non-pulsed by the walking steaks and hamburgers heading our way that we hung out at the rock wall a while for a little photo shoot. We knew we could just pop over the fence quickly if the beef headed our way.
Little did we know, the fence was not complete. The beef walked right through the gap to the very next, again long and large, field we were also heading into. Another field where we had to walk to the far side of AND then walk the length to the farthest corner (where the cattle were heading too) to reach the next stile to leave said beef filled field behind. Yikes! We double timed it a little more seriously this time … just in case Mr Bull heard us laughing at him and took exception to our tom foolery!
We made it and little did we know that would be some of the last livestock we would see as we wrapped up Cotswold Way. Soon we were in more urban settings, passing though a golf course (where we took a nice snack break), then city parks and finally the city itself.
By the time we did get into Bath late morning, we were smoking hot – the temp was already in the low 30s and the approach into Bath was full of steep hills and little shade. An emergency iced latte was required from the cutest coffee shop called Hungry Bear before we even approached the finish line.
Rested a bit and refreshed a little, we made our way to the Bath Abbey where the Cotswold Start/Finish is located – a circular plaque on the ground with an acorn in the center, matching the one we started at in Chipping on Campden.
Unfortunately the Abbey was in full swing all week for local university graduations so we couldn’t visit the actual Abbey (as many do when they finish or start) and we had to act like bouncers to get some time with the acorn plaque without a grad in the frame. So while not quite what we expected – it felt pretty amazing all the same.
Right, well there is the Cotswold Way wrapped up with a spectacularly hot finish but what a long distance adventure! While not listed as difficult or even moderately strenuous in guide books, the Way should not be underestimated. There is a good amount of work on the trail to be done – you cannot achieve great views without great climbs. Most definitely easier that the Offa’s Dyke Path but still a heck of a work out and but felt great to finish.
Ok now let’s go find a celebratory pint …