June 9, 2013
Today was our last day walking the Cotswold Way! Since it was a fairly long walk, we had breakfast at 8 am. Breakfast this morning was interesting—scrambled eggs on toast with smoked salmon. Rosemary got the porridge she had asked for but nobody else got anything other than the eggs and smoked salmon. Quite a change from the typical full English breakfast we had been having.
It was a cloudy, windy morning so we thought the weather had changed, but after we got going the clouds cleared off very soon. After a short tour of Tormarton our route took us out of the village and over the M4, luckily via an overpass. We walked along country lanes and byways for quite a while, so it was fast travelling. After an hour or so we passed by the back side of Dyrham House, which was used in the movie “Remains of the Day”. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit the house today, but we had a good view of it from the Way. The rest of the estate was mostly surrounded by high walls, so we didn’t see any deer in the deer park.
So far the Way hadn’t had us climbing any big hills, but now that changed and soon we found ourselves labouring up a path through Dyrham Wood. Almost at the top we came across a message box. It was supposed to be there so you could leave messages for other walkers, but in practice it has become the Cotswold Way visitors’ book. So we wrote a short note in the book before carrying on. After passing over the top of the hill we went down through the hamlet of Pennsylvania and then into Cold Ashton. Here there was a fancy house with very decorative gates, but it really didn’t rival Dyrham House at all. From there we had some downs and ups, and when we came to a bench at the top of a climb we decided it was lunch time.
A plaque on the bench stated that it had been donated by the owner of Lilliput Farm, which turned out to be just across the valley, so we gave the farm a friendly wave to thank him. Christine had kindly packed us a lunch, because we had run out of food and there hadn’t really been any places lately to do shopping. Just as we were finishing, Neil and Christine came up the hill and joined us on the bench. After chatting with them for a while we carried on.
The next section crossed fields which were the site of the Battle of Lansdown, which took place in 1643. Along the way there were three information boards which told us about this Civil War battle. Then we walked around a golf course and the Bath racecourse. No racing was taking place, so it was very quiet and empty. But we were definitely getting near the end: we came out onto the viewpoint which overlooked the city of Bath, our final destination.
It wasn’t far to walk down into the suburbs of Bath, but just in case we thought we were finished with the steep hill-climbing, there was one more, Primrose Hill. We climbed up a very steep paved path, reached the top, and then angled down Sion Hill into Victoria Park. Now we were on the home stretch, and everything was suddenly different. Instead of meeting the occasional dog-walker, we were passing hundreds of people spending a sunny Sunday afternoon out in the park. In the streets with the grand architecture and the massive Georgian buildings there were tour buses and clumps of tourists.
Our route took us past many of the sights of Bath, along Royal Avenue and then through the streets to Bath Abbey. The waymarks were tiny now and hard to find, but we knew where we were headed so we found our way. The plaza in front of the Abbey was very crowded, so we couldn’t see the official end of the Way. But by then neither of us really cared. We listened to a woman singing for a while, then checked our map to find how to get to the youth hostel.
From the Abbey we walked along the river and then across Pulteney Bridge, which led us to a road with a sign pointing to Bathwick Hill. Yet another hill to climb, and now it was very hot as well. But finally we found the hostel, an Italian-style mansion, near the top of the hill. We were pretty tired when we got there. Neil and Christine arrived soon afterwards and we considered the idea of going out for dinner. But the hostel had basic pub-style meals so we just had fish and chips there.