Blockley early morning
Setting off at 6.10am, I continued along Monarch’s Way through Blockley, the main part of which is Cotswold at its beautiful best, money, and lots of it, evident from the size and quality of the old cottages and houses, all lovingly maintained. The route then went through Broad Campden and then Chipping Campden. From here I went up to Dover’s Hill on the Cotswold Way with far reaching views from the escarpment, the northernmost edge of the Cotswolds. I brewed some coffee here whilst enjoying the vista.
I continued along The Mile Drive on the Cotswold Way down to the café at Broadway Tower, meeting again my friend Kim, who I’d last seen on my LEJOG when she kindly allowed me to camp there. Fortified with a pot of tea and a generous slice of chocolate fudge cake, I made my way down through Snowshill (which featured in the film Bridget Jones’ Diary)
and then down through the hamlet of Taddington, then Cutsdean, Ford and Temple Guiting. Harvesting was going on everywhere. At Kineton, I took a path south-west and joined the Wardens’ Way into Guiting Power, through Naunton where, just south a bit, I followed the Windrush Way almost into Bourton-on-the-Water. Light was fading so I found myself a soft spot of grassy ground beside a hedge and spent a peaceful night.
Up at 5.45am, I was on my way shortly after and it was surprising how many people were about in Bourton, even at that time. From here, field paths and quiet lanes took me the three miles or so to Sherbourne where I headed eastwards through water meadows to the village of Windrush. Crossing the River Dikler here, I followed footpaths and bridleways northwards through Great Rissington, Little Rissington and then Wyck Rissington where I joined the Oxfordshire Way. Passing through Gawcombe and then Bledington and Kingham, I was home at 5pm having walked a total of 57 miles.
This was my first outing using just a bivy bag, an Alpkit Hunka, an excellent piece of kit which until now I've only used to make sure my down bag remains dry under the tarp. Having no tarp this time meant that I was able to move off much more quickly in the mornings, as it often has to be dried either from rain or condensation. Also, the walking day was structured differently. I tended to be away earlier, I would stop in the evening between 6-7pm and prepare a meal and I would then walk another couple of hours until it started to get dark and then find somewhere unobtrusive to spend the night. However, with a bivy, even though it's red, it's not nearly as conspicuous as a tent or tarp. Definitely an experience to be repeated and could add an extra to a tarping trip as, particularly when rain isn't expected, I wouldn't necessarily need to put the tarp up.