Start - Tormarton
End - Bath Abbey
Distance - 16,7 miles / 26.9Km
Walking Time - 5 Hours
Assent - 1,714 ft / 522 meters
And just like that it’s over. A total of 105 miles hiked over 5 days (well, 4.5 days actually but who was really counting?)
For the first time that week, instead of tranquil silence the day started with the rumble of fast moving traffic which soon became a roar as I crossed the M4 en-route to the paths finish line at Bath Abbey.
I’d been warned by other hikers that from here the route became less beautiful and involved walking along country lanes rather than footpaths & hillsides. This was true for the first mile or two but after that it was back to the sort of views and terrain I had come to expect from the first 4 days.
Skirting the beautiful Dyrham House & park, nourishment was provided courtesy of a Shell petrol station on the A46 but devoured with stunning views in the village of Cold Ashton a little further on. After that, the final major climb took me to the top of Lansdown Hill, now home to Bath Racecourse but also the location for the Battle of Lansdown which took place during the English Civil war. As well as several excellent information boards about the battle is the Sir Bevil Grenville Monument; erected in 1720 and apparently the oldest war memorial in the county.
From here the path began its long decent into Bath and once in the town it wound its way from park to park so only the final half mile sees you walking on paved streets. Bath Abbey is surrounded on all sides with narrow streets and alley ways so not until you are within 20m of its front door does it appear into view but what a wonderful proportioned building it is. Not too grand and opulent but large enough to make a statement.
And so mission complete. I sat for a few minutes to take it all in. Checked train times to get me home, booked a train that left sooner than I realised and then run through Bath like a crazed man, boarding the train just as the doors were closing.
The Cotswold way is an incredible route and one that has something for novice multi day hikes and those with more experience alike. Although 4.5 days may seem quick to some people, the record for completing the whole path belongs to Rob Forbes who completed the 102 miles in just 17 hours and 34 minutes in 2017. More commonly the route is completed in 7 to 10 days which reduces the millage being covered each day and allows more time for exploring along the way.
The whole route is incredibly well sign posted but organised walking tours are available if you want a completely stress free life. Accommodation and refreshment stop are sporadic in places so make sure you do your research and have a plan before setting off.
The Cotswold Way is a beautiful walking route and one that I can highly recommend adding to your adventure wish list.