Tag Archives: Birdlip

The Cotswold Way – Birdlip to Painswick

July 16 – Another continental breakfast this morning – I’m beginning to crave my full English! Eight and a half miles of shady woodland walking planned for today.

In an hour we reached Cooper’s Hill, home of the infamous annual cheese rolling competition. We saw this notice at the foot of the hill:

It’s hard to capture the steepness of a hill in a photo, but trust me, we are way high up and the hill is very steep. You can tell how hard we worked to climb the hill by the sweat that accumulated under Jim’s backpack, reminiscent of the silhouette of a Playboy bunny.

Every May holiday weekend, hundreds of people from all over the world congregate on Cooper’s Hill. A nine pound wheel of local cheese in a wooden container is rolled from the hilltop, and everyone scrambles down after it. The person who captures the cheese, wins! Ambulances wait at the foot of the hill to carry the many injured off to hospital. There were so many injuries that the local government demanded the contest cease several years ago, and refused any responsibility, but the annual contest goes on! Sort of like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, only with cheese.

Flowers blooming in the shade.

In Japan, this would be called a kami tree, with spaces for the spirits to live. Here it’s just an interesting tree.

After a while, we found ourselves on another golf course, also home to a Neolithic fort. You can’t fool me twice – it was just dirt.

Back into the woods. A pretty butterfly.

Then into Painswick, another Gloucestershire village that became prosperous in the wool trade. Walking into town, we came upon the Painswick Rococo Garden; a re-creation of a garden that occupied this very site in the 1740s. Built on six acres, the garden was a place to invite guests to schmooze and canoodle, with little cottages and secluded arbors.

There was also an extensive kitchen garden for fruits, vegetables and herbs.

The garden was abandoned and became overgrown, but is now being restored, using a painting of the original garden, and only plants that were available in England in the 1740s.

They recently added a maze to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the garden. We slogged around it for a while, but never found the center.

In town we found a stunning St. Mary’s Church. I’m still surprised that the C of E church is the fanciest one in town, and that all the churches are open to visit.

Also, the public stocks that were used to punish miscreants in the 1800s.

A pub supper, and we were off to bed. A lovely day.

The Cotswold Way – Winchcombe to Dowdeswell to Birdlip

July 14 – We hated to leave our luxurious substitute accommodations, but all good things must end. Back to our original historic hotel for breakfast, and then we were off. Totally bucolic walk today, with no tourist stops as there was nothing to see!

It rained a little last night, which made the morning foggier than usual. We climbed hills through the Cleeve golf course, hoping we wouldn’t get beaned by a stray ball. The wooden post up the hill has a trail arrow showing us which way to go – impossible to tell the trails from the sheep paths. Surreal walking experience amidst the mist. Here is a scenic hilltop view. Ah, let’s sit here and admire the… fog.

Mind you, I am not complaining. Most who walk this trail throughout the year see nothing but fog and rain every day!

The sun burned off the mist after a while.

Woodland walking.

Alien-looking flowers.

A sunny afternoon.

Our accommodation tonight is a room over a pub off the trail. The guide provided by our travel agent told us to leave the trail and walk one and a half miles to the pub. They didn’t mention that the walk was along a major highway with no shoulder. We jogged on the road when there were no cars coming, then dove into the scrub and cowered until the cars passed. Invigorating! The innkeeper gave us free beer for arriving alive.

July 15 – For the first time in the six weeks we’ve been here, we were not offered a cooked breakfast today. Our host provided a little fridge with yogurts, fruit, milk, juice, biscuits, cereals and porridge, in addition to the ubiquitous kettle for tea and coffee. Nice change from the full English, and it gave us control over what time we set out in the morning. Knowing that we had to do that mile and a half death jog back down the highway, we opted to leave at seven and hope that the Sunday morning traffic would be light. We lived to tell the tale. 12 miles today to the village of Birdlip. You can’t make these names up!

Spent the morning walking the ridge that looks down on the city of Cheltenham. We’ve gazed down on it from all angles, but will not actually visit Cheltenham.

Lots of families, bikers and dog walkers out enjoying a beautiful Sunday. Some pretty flowers.

At the top of Leckhampton Hill was a toposcope, showing what lies below in every direction.

We passed an old quarry area.

We visited the old Iron Age fort and Neolithic settlement at Crickley Hill. It looked like… a mound of dirt. Not a lot of artifacts in evidence from 6000 years ago!

Our accommodation tonight was off the trail, so if there is anything to see in the village of Birdlip, we did not see it. Our host picked us up, and will drop us back on the trail in the morning.