UK Mountains Walking, Mountaineering and Equipment Reviews
The Winchcombe Way
42 Miles longOfficial Guide Available
The Winchcombe Way
Day 1

Being a circular walk, or more accurately a figure of eight walk, it is perfectly possible to start and finish at any point. The traditional start/end point is, of course, Winchcombe itself but for logistical reasons, we decided to begin at the Hobnails Inn near Alderton on the Western loop of the walk.

Winchcombe Way

So it was that at 8:30 we crossed the road outside the pub and disappeared into a field in the general direction of Alstone, a village that claims to be over a thousand years old. It is a typical Cotswold Village with brown stone houses, a lovely Church and plenty of flowers in the gardens. Passing through we were soon out in pleasant fields again, heading cross country towards Nottingham Hill, the first climb of the day.

It was then that disaster struck for the first (but not last) time, Adriana's left boot parted company with the sole at the front. Now I like to think I pack essentials for all eventualities but I have to confess I was not ready for this. We had to improvise! A piece of cord from one of our stuff bags saved the day. I removed it, hooked it around the front of the boot and tied it to the laces. Pulling it tight it closed the gap between boot and sole allowing us to continue.

Just before the climb up to the summit of Nottingham Hill begins, the walk passes underneath the GWR steam railway line very close to Gotherington Halt station - well worth a detour the guide told us. Being reasonably local, we continued up the hill, promising ourselves we would return another day to see what all the fuss was about.

Nottingham Hill is a good pull up but on a good path and the summit plateau is soon reached. It was here we decided on our first snack break; a twix bar. We also decided that the weather was warm enough to ditch thermals and trousers and go into T-Shirts and shorts! Suitably changed we continued on to the end of the lane to meet a quiet road that took us to the top of the Winchcombe - Cheltenham road. Crossing that, we walked up to the Golf Clubhouse and onto Cleeve Hill, the highest point of the entire walk.

We had to make another stop here to patch up Adriana's already blistering feet. Luckily, or by design I had a spare pack of Compeed in the First Aid kit. Thus repaired we set off again over the Common towards the radio masts when disaster struck again - the sole from the other boot came loose! More string from another stuff sack, similar repair and we were off again. We would be passing through Winchcombe later on so planned to buy a roll of duct tape to do a proper job.

Cleeve Common seems to go on forever and as we walked across I remarked that it would be a navigation challenge for anyone who didn't know it walking across on a misty day. We knew the common well and the day was superb so no such problems for us and we soon came to the boundary wall that marks the edge of the common. From here, the walk crosses several fields and along a track before arriving at the ancient Long Barrow of Belas Knap.

Another break and a Mars Bar and were heading down via a devious route to Winchcombe which is in view but never seems to get any closer! Eventually we came into the High Street and, finding a place to stop, I set off in search of repair equipment. On my return with a 5metre roll - enough to repair the boots of the entire 1st Batallion of the Winchcombe Fusiliers, we fashioned toe pieces from the tape which we were confident would last the entire weekend, so good was the job. Adriana, having discovered earlier that her bag of creams had been left behind - something of a major disaster then disappeared in the direction of the nearest chemist to replace said creams. My cries of 'but we only have £50' fell on deaf ears.

Thus repaired and replenished we continued our walk out of Winchcombe and steeply up - everywhere it seems out of Winchcombe is up as we would discover in a couple of days. This particular pull up Dunns Hill to the Farmcote Estate was particularly steep prompting the remark 'I thought you said that Cleeve Hill is the Highest Point'. 'It is' I replied, 'but not necessarily the steepest'. This feeble attempt at observational humour was not well received it has to be said so I decided my best recourse was to continue ahead just out of pole range to avoid any physical damage to my person that may occur as a result of the sense of humour failure that was obviously happening.

Once at the top, the walking eases considerably so we decided to declare a lunch break. Looking back we could see Cleeve Hill, looking ahead the rolling Cotswold Countryside. It was a beautiful day and we were enjoying it. It is a well known fact in walking circles that sitting around enjoying the peace and quiet having a lazy lunch does not make the finish any closer whereas walking does, so we reluctantly packed away our mats and remains of lunch and set off towards Guiting Wood - a potential camp site. This section is along lanes which is not much fun for the feet and a real shame give the grassland around. The Farmcote Estate own all of the surrounding land and clearly do not like the idea of humans walking on their grass - hence the road work.

At the end of the lane, we headed into the wood which was similarly uninviting. At every path crossing, there were 'Keep Out' notices. There is one path sunshine and one path only! Finally we were through it and past the one third point so every step on today would be a bonus. The route follows more road, this time down into Temple Guiting and I kept my eyes peeled for a likely camp site, but nothing struck me as being suitable so we continued through the village and out the other side. I remarked that this village was on one of my longer cycling routes which, for a moment, took our minds off the pain and discomfort of the day.

We soon came into fields, occupied, unfortunately by sheep which precluded them as likely spots. Then we spied a farmer in an adjacent field so stopped to ask if he knew of anywhere we might camp for the night. 'Well', he said, 'this is my field and you are welcome to stay here'. Perfect! He even offered us water and milk should we need it and advised on collecting wood for a fire! It took us a few minutes to pick the best spot to pitch but were soon relaxing over a hot coffee with boots off and feet airing - down wind of course. As with all wild camping, by 8pm there is nothing to do. We had eaten chicken in rice for dinner, some chocolate for dessert, washed up in the nearby stream and sorted our kit. I was asleep in minutes, Adriana some time later, tomorrow would be another tough day but we were ahead of the schedule and suitably pleased with ourselves.

Day 2

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