Walking the Cotswold Way: Old Sodbury to Cold Ashton

After a rough night there was a decision to make in the morning. Was I well enough to carry on? I’d had a restless night, feeling very unwell. By the morning I was still feeling rough. We went for breakfast, all I could manage was water and dry toast. We had two days left, tomorrow we would be in Bath. We’d come too far to give up now. We had to get going!

We got going, plenty of water and rehydration tablets with us. It was good to be outside, instead of stuck in a stuffy pub. We left Old Sodbury and walked through the Dodington Estate. The walk through the Parkland was well signed, as is the rest of the trail,  but the additional reminders on every post to stay on the path and not to trespass definitely made you feel like you were being tolerated rather than being welcome on the path. It was very pretty to walk through though, rolling fields and a moat around the garden.

We emerged next to the busy A46, crossing it and crossing fields to head for Tormarton. It was Sunday morning, so the church was in use, a service about to start, but we were able to walk around the church yard and enjoy the ambience. The village was originally named after the church, Tormarton being an abbreviation of Tower Marton, a reference to the impressive church tower. We were taking it slow and steady and although still tired, I was beginning to feel a little better.

Leaving the village we were soon crossing the M4, slowly but surely we were getting closer to Bath. The fields beyond the motorway were edged with Cotswold stone walls that were in the process of being rebuilt. The golden hued stoned looked beautiful next to the fields of ripening crops, poppies dotting the field margins.

We walked on through an agricultural landscape, the M4 audible for a long time after we had crossed it. After crossing back over the A46 we made our way through a wood and more fields before we started walking along a long stone wall, the boundary of the National Trust’s Dyrham Park estate. Across the valley from our path, the hillside was lined with strip lytchets, evidence of long ago farming in the landscape. A gate in the wall gave us a view into the deer park it protected, where a small herd of young bucks grazed together.

Walking into the village, we had a view of the formal gardens and house, and we decided to venture into the park to use the facilities. It was busy, crowded with families out for a Sunday visit. We visited the cafe for drinks and a simple sandwich, I was beginning to feel more like my usual self. We didn’t stay too long or take time to explore the property, we were keen to continue on our walk.

Leaving the hustle and bustle of Dyrham behind, we carried on through woodlands and fields, climbing again up through woodland, stopping regularly to drink, I was feeling better but still weak and a bit useless. It was hot again, the sun bouncing back off the ground as we walked, the woods providing welcome shade.

As we walked down towards Cold Ashton, our overnight stop, we popped into the petrol station for more cool drinks to keep us going for the final stretch. We admired the pretty church and the ornamental gated entrance to the local Manor House. We were staying beyond the village in Whiteways bed and breakfast further along the A46, reached by a quiet country lane up to the main road. We were worried that this would be a noisy overnight stop, but the rooms above the garage, were roomy and peaceful, looking out over the fields beyond.

There are no pubs in the local area, so we were given a lift to a nearby farm cafe, where dinner was cooked for us and we were given a lift home by the friendly proprietor. A lovely way to spend an evening. I was glad of a relaxing evening and an early night.

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