We finished the Cotswold Way on Friday in Bath. The last few days were just as beautiful as the first, even if we finally had some rain. What is England without rain?
The sound of the trail is the wood pigeon, cooing constantly. It’s a large pigeon with a white band around its neck. The views that will stay with me were of us walking through fields of sheep, scattering as we passed them. We also traversed cow fields which we sometimes had to shoo to find the exit gate.
We met few walkers. The most interesting was Becks, a college student, walking from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End on the Southwestern tip of England – about 1,000 miles, tip to tip through Great Britain and camping along the way. We met her twice on the path, once with her sister, once with her mother. What a fine thing to do on her summer vacation. I gave her my email address, told her about Jennifer Davis and encouraged her to hike the Appalachian Trail. Got to encourage these Yo’ung Ones.
Throughout the walk, we stayed in Bed and Breakfasts, each different, each with its own quirks. The rooms are small and the bathrooms are even smaller. It’s obvious that the bathrooms were added on so they could call it an “en suite”, that is, with a private bath. England is a crowded country. Even in the countryside where the properties have lots of land, the living areas are not spacious.
The best place was Orchardene B&B in a small, working-class town of King Stanley orchardene.co.uk. The owner, Leslie, was very active in her community and was an elected member of the county council. She was interested in talking to us and answering questions about the social system. She called herself a Green Socialist. Could you imagine anyone in the U.S. calling themselves a socialist – except real socialists?
Breakfasts were all the same and all huge. You could start with cereal, fruit and yogurt. All cold cereals, I’m afraid. The days of making porridge (oatmeal) are gone. Then a cooked breakfast of eggs, breakfast meats and mushrooms, tomatoes and baked beans. All topped off with toast and coffee or tea. It was much too much for me, so I enjoyed the cereal course – what they call the Continental breakfast.
As we got closer to the city of Bath, the Cotswold Way signs became poorer and private property signs got bigger. Most people who walk the whole trail start at Chipping Campden so it’s busier on the northern end.
Once in Bath, the signs stopped all together. From the guidebook, we learned that the trail ended at Bath Abbey, close to the tourist office. By then, it was raining hard and we just wanted to get to the end. There was no sign that we were at the Southern terminus of the Cotswold Way. We stumbled into the tourist office and asked to have our picture taken. No book to sign, no patch to buy. Another trail on our hiking resume.
We spent two days as tourists in Bath, including taking the waters – going to a thermal spa. Now we’re in London getting ready for another shorter hike.