Today was an easier day. The temperature has dropped and we didn’t have as far to walk. We woke refreshed after a comfortable night’s sleep and ate a hearty breakfast, with tasty homemade treats.
Packed lunch in our bags we set off, glad to avoid the road and head straight up onto Cleeve Common. Before long we heard a shout and out lovely hostess was running after us, my sunglasses in their case clutched in her hand, dropped when I was adding the packed lunch to my bag. Oops!
We were heading up, the top of Cleeve Hill, the highest point on the Cotswold Way our first aim for the morning, very close to where we had stayed.
Cleeve Common feels quite wild, although incongruous golf greens are dotted among the long grass. Sheep graze, one lamb sliding down a slope on his bottom as he hurried to his Mum on our approach. Soon we reached the high point, landscape laid out before us like a map, an exhilarating feeling.
The walking was relatively gentle, along the edge of the escarpment, flowers blooming all about us, butterflies fluttering and diving, silver washed fritillaries on wide orange wings, small tortoiseshells, marbled whites, skippers, meadow browns, gatekeepers, peacocks, colour and beauty to delight and entertain.
I loved the wildflowers, purples and yellows the most dominant colours, an almost constant pleasure as we walked.
Leaving the rich grasslands behind, cared for by Butterfly Conservation, we headed into a more agricultural landscape again, along field margins and, what felt like, a long stretch of road walking along shaded lanes, trees arching overhead but the tarmac hard and unforgiving beneath our feet.
We dropped down along a woodland edge path to Dowdeswell, the reservoir not looking as I had expected. Along the way we had spotted a Dor Beetle on the path and sadly, another wildlife casualty, a fledgling great tit, perfect but dead, lying on the path. Slightly concerned that it’s one casualty per day now- a shrew on Sunday, the mole yesterday and now the great tit. Hope there are no more.
By the reservoir we were delighted to come across a house selling teas, coffees, cold drinks and snacks to eat in their garden, the Cotswold Oasis, opened after the local pub turned into an Indian restaurant. Fortified with fizzy pop and a bar of chocolate we were ready to tackle the hill.
The next section of our walk took us through Lineover Wood and the meadows alongside, cared for by the Woodland Trust. We stopped on a handily placed bench to eat our sandwiches, a moth joining us.
We passed through another field of cattle, cows, calves and a huge bull clearing the way as we chatted gently to them as we passed. The ascents seemed easier today and soon we were back on the escarpment, enjoying the far reaching views.
The final stretch of walking for the day was alongside crop fields, beautiful in the sunshine, glowing golden.
A final butterfly appearance for the day, an accommodating small tortoiseshell and soon we were at the Seven Springs pub, where we were to be picked up by our host for the night.
We had time to enjoy the most enormous meals and relax in the sunshine before being picked up and taken to the beautiful Detmore House, our home for the night.
Our room is beautiful, the view is stunning and we have spent a relaxing evening unwinding, reading and chatting, tomorrow is our longest day’s walking- I am nervous and excited in equal part!