Cotswold Way Day 2: Dursley to Tormarton

Distance: 20.4 miles; Ascent: 2970ft

A GPX file of the walk can be downloaded from https://www.strava.com/activities/7195680125

Wanting to complete the 48-mile journey over 3 days, I decided to cover 3 stages of the Cotswold Way on day 2. I knew it would be a challenge, so I started early to give myself extra time. Luckily my calf pain seemed to have gone away after a bit of massaging and a good night’s sleep (I highly recommend this Airbnb in Dursley, by the way).

I climbed out of Dursley to reach the Stinchcombe Hill golf course. To save my legs, I decided to take a signposted shortcut across the golf course to avoid the plateau circuit (which apparently offers one of the finest of all Cotswold panoramas according to my Cicerone guide). Coming down Stinchcombe Hill, and out of the wood, I soon spotted the Tyndale Monument up on top of the next hill in North Nibley. Full of energy and looking forward to reaching North Nibley, I then encountered a totally unexpected scenario.

“The field” (with Tyndale Monument up on the hill)

Following the Cotswold Way signpost, I came off a road to the edge of a field. It was a field full of chest-high crops (rape seed I think), and I could just about made out a faint line through the field. With no hesitation, I boldly marched through the field, and suddenly, I started feeling my trousers getting wet. Before long, my top and socks were getting wet. My shoes started squelching. All the moisture, from the overnight rain, that had previously clung on those crops decided to migrate to my body. Totally soaked, I reached dry land and could only laugh off the misery. As I walked past a house, I spotted a tap with a sign saying “FREE WATER FOR C.W. WALKERS”. This was of course a very nice gesture from the resident, but somehow, given the circumstances, I could only feel the irony. I then saw some walkers coming the opposite direction. I told them about the field, and apparently they had been warned.

A bit wet

Going through North Nibley, which itself was a neat village, I found the start of the climb up to the Tyndale Monument. The imposing tower was built in honour of William Tyndale, who translated the New Testament into English (more on him later) and was subsequently executed for “heresy” by the Catholic establishment. There was an opportunity to climb the steps to the top of the tower, but I was more than happy to drink in the view while simply wandering along the top of the knoll.

View from Nibley Knoll

The following 2-mile walk down to Wotton-under-Edge was pleasant enough. Wotton-under-Edge is one of those pretty Cotswold towns that would otherwise warrant a few hours of visit, with its many interesting buildings. I, however, only spent half an hour or so to buy some lunch and to visit the fascinating Perry & Dawes Almshouses. Cotswold Way beckons.

Jubilee-ready
Perry and Dawes Almhouses

The way then followed a stream to ascend Blackquarries Hill. This incidentally is a recurring theme of the Cotswold Way: dropping down to villages/towns from the escarpment, and then climbing back up again. I noticed the weather was starting to turn, and without much warning, drizzle turned into sleet shower. I sought refuge underneath a tree to put on my rain jacket, before the path led me to the exposed hilltop. It was just a stark reminder that the Cotswold Way is not just a pretty village walk, and that often you can be in pretty bleak remote landscape just on your own.

Sunken path towards Alderley
Meadow towards Alderley

This walk on the hilltop lasted a mile before I entered a plantation. By that time, the rain had stopped and the sun had timidly come out. Plantation track turned into a sunken path, and I was soon in the village of Alderley, with a few very pretty cottages. A very pleasant walk through the Kilcott Valley took me to Lower Kilcott, where the route headed southeast to reach Hawkesbury Upton, passing the Somerset Monument.

Somerset Monument

The well-surfaced track out of Hawkesbury Upton allowed me to relax and enjoy the view out towards Wiltshire. When the track turned into fields, and the view was by blocked tall hedges, walking became a bit more tedious. Luckily, boredom did not last long as the route started winding its way down to Horton, and then onto Little Sodbury. Supposedly, it was in Little Sodbury where William Tyndale once said:

If God spare my life, ere many years pass, I will cause a boy that driveth the plow shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost.

The present St Adeline’s Church in Little Sodbury has a stone plaque commemorating this.

“But the word of the lord endureth for ever”

En route to Old Sodbury, I could see on the map an utterly unnecessary detour that the Cotswold Way decided to take to go over the top of a hill fort. I thought about skipping it, but eventually yielded to the instruction. Was it really worth the climb? I am not sure, but at least it gave me an opportunity to stop and have some food and water. Joining the main path again, I was soon taken to Old Sodbury. The St John the Baptist Church must have the bench with best view in the world.

Bench with the best view

The rest of the walk was through the grounds of Dodington Park (estate now owned by a certain Mr Dyson). By now, I was pretty tired, and my legs were starting to hurt in all sorts of places. The genius of Capability Brown was sadly lost on me. Frankly I just wanted to get to the Compass Inn hotel in Tormarton and stop.

Dodington Estate

Cotswold Way Day 1: Stroud to Dursley | Cotswold Way Day 3: Tormarton to Bath

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