After leaving the Bantam Tea Rooms, where we had spent the night in comfort, a hearty breakfast inside, our first day walking the Cotswold Way started from the market hall in Chipping Campden. The beginning (and end)of the trail is marked by a stone and an inscription on the floor.
We walked out through Chipping Campden, past golden buildings, before turning and heading up the first of many hills to come. The sky was blue, sun shining and already it was feeling hot. The top of Dover’s Hill gave beautiful views and a very welcome breeze!
From there we walked on through scorched fields, bare earth cracked and fissured below our feet, grass brown. We sought out patches of shade, grateful to hedges and woodland that we passed through for keeping the heat at bay.
The main landmark of the day was Broadway Tower, dominating the landscape in all directions. Built as a folly in Victorian times it was designed to impress and be seen and even all these years later it still manages to do both.
From here it was a steep walk down into Broadway, butterflies around us and even a hummingbird hawk moth ahead on the path. Sheep that we passed were seeking out shade, hiding out under the trees.
As lunchtime approached we found ourselves in Broadway, a beautiful town with a broad high street of glowing Cotswold stone.
The houses and businesses all have their individual quirks and it’s a delightful place for a wander, bustling with people on this beautiful Sunday.
We happily made our way inside a tea room for “Cotswold afternoon” tea, sandwiches and a cool drink.
Thirst and hunger sated it was back out into the increasing heat of the afternoon. Passing the Church we headed back up hill and eventually onto the escarpment. Grasshoppers buzzed, overhead a buzzard and a smaller hawk (a kestrel perhaps) fought, the smaller bird dive bombing the buzzard in an impressive aerial display. For a long way we could see back to Broadway tower, a point of reference along the ridge. A copse of beautiful old beech trees provided welcome shade and an obstacle in the form of shed branches.
Beyond here we were walking in wide stone tracks, white and hot, the heat reflecting back up at us, each small Copse or taller hedge plant a welcome break from the heat. We were very glad to have bladders full of water, with rehydrating tablets dissolved in to keep us going.
We were grateful to be heading downhill again towards Stanton, our stop for the night. Before we reached there we passed this quirky mounting block, covered in horse shoes:
We were glad to arrive at Shenberrow Hill bed and breakfast where we had a warm welcome and a cool drink. Our room and en suite wit impressively deep baths we comfortable and relatively cool- we’ll sleep well tonight!
We spent the evening at the pretty Mount Inn at the top of the village with commanding views of the local countryside, tasty local beer and delicious food. A lovely end to a first day on the Cotswold Way.
My feet are fine, legs are good to go tomorrow, the heat today was challenging, with a few moments where I began to feel very hot and slightly shaky, but drinking and taking snatched moments in the shade refreshed me and I felt good when we finished today’s walk. I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow will bring. We’re aiming for Cleeve Hill, the highest point on the Cotswold Way!