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Day 2 - Broadway to Winchcombe

12 miles/ 19.3km An amazing adventure in the mostly pouring rain!

rain 12 °C
View Cotswold Way, England on Laura Walking's travel map.

As per previous entry - writing this on Mon Oct 24 - from Painswick.

I stayed in a little pub in Broadway last night. A lively, but mature sort of place! By that I just mean the clientele in the pub area were friendly, and quietly enjoying their pub meals together. It wasn’t a rowdy place at all… but very busy. I even went down to have some fish and chips in the pub at dinnertime. I had actually taken my iPad down with me, thinking that the Internet only worked down there, or at least worked better down there - but the Barman said, “Oh no, it’s raining. It’ll be back up tomorrow!” And that was that. I closed my iPad and got out my pen and paper. So this has been the story for the last several days. (It’s great that there is no smoking inside pubs anymore, that is a huge bonus!)

I didn’t sleep terribly well - nothing about the place - was just feeling a little achy. In the morning, I got up in good time, and took my big pack down to the bar area, so it would be ready to go. There was no breakfast included here, but I had stopped at a grocery store on the way in yesterday, so I had something to eat. I left with my little pack at 9:45am and again it was overcast, with rain forecast today, and all week, actually. I had my rain gear on from yesterday, although not my rain pants… just sort of semi-waterproof pants. Anyway, it was a good thing because by 10:30 it was raining… and by 11:00 it was POURING! Eventually, of course, I was soaked right through. It doesn’t take long!

Of course in the midst of all of this poor visibility, you’re looking at your feet hoping you don’t step in a pot hole of some sort on these very muddy roads and tracks - I was looking for where I thought there should be one of the signs marking the Cotswold Way… but didn’t see anything. The rain was dripping off my hood, you know, glasses fogging up, etc. I didn’t feel lost, or too worried or anything… I knew I was in the right area, just maybe not exactly on the right path. (There are tons of Public Bridleways and Public Footpaths that all crisscross each other, so I knew I would come across something familiar eventually). In this weather I was not about to retrace my steps, so I just kept going. Eventually, still thinking that I was in the right vicinity (and actually I was), I came to a paved road with houses on it… and so followed this for a short while. I came to a T intersection and a car was turning near me, so they stopped and we chatted for a second. They were from London, so didn’t know this area, but they said that they just passed a pub down at the bottom of the hill. We said goodbye and I headed down to the pub. At least I could get hot coffee, warm up for a minute and be dry for a second, use a bathroom and get directions. I had high hopes! Got down to the pub and it was CLOSED! Closed for renovations. All of a sudden the couple in the car reappeared, thinking the same thing I was thinking, that it would be nice to sit in a warm place. She quickly apologized to me, and said that they hadn’t been IN the pub, they had just seen it from their car! She was disappointed too.

I walked up and down this little town, from end to end, and other than private homes and a large church, there were no other stores or places to take shelter. So I walked back to the church, they are often open, and it was! I opened the “bird gate”, a wrought iron door that has bars close together to keep birds from getting in, and went inside. The church itself was open too, but it asked people to remove their muddy boots, which I was not going to do. So I sat in the little vestibule out of the deluge. I added another layer of clothing, I had a light jacket in my day pack which I put on under my soaking rain coat. And I had something to eat. It was a peaceful place to have found. I consulted my guide book to see if I could figure out where I was. The name of the pub was also the name of the town, so I found it in the book. I wasn’t far off - and if I walked back up the hill to where I had first talked to the couple in the car, I should be on my way. Just then, as I was putting all my gear back on… wet, and getting colder by the second, a man appeared just outside the birdcage door. Then a second and a third. I opened the door and they came in, all drenched as I was. We had a conversation that involved maps and so on! These three friends (in their 80’s!) were out for their annual walk around the Cotswolds and the three other fellows with them had done another route that day. Anyway, of the three, Tony, Tom and Geoff, the last was obviously their defacto leader! He had the maps and would consult the others as to which direction they should go. They were doing a circuit of sorts and were eventually going to end up in the same place that I was headed, the town of Stanton. The two others were in agreement and they asked me if I wanted to walk with them, or if I was okay on my own. Geoff added that it probably wouldn’t be very interesting for me! They figured it would take an hour or so to get back to Stanton, where they started. They had missed a turn as well - and we had all ended up in that church vestibule together! (Tony said later that that had likely been divine intervention!) I figured that I would rather be lost with other people than wandering around in the pouring rain by myself… (I’m not sure Geoff really wanted me along… but the other two were giving me food and were very chatty!) Anyway, we set off together. They were very, very nice. Lots of conversation about their lives and wives and retirement and grandchildren - the places they’ve walked, and their hip and knee replacements! They were really a hoot! Lovely and funny too! Geoff even warmed up! It was lovely walking with them… although it seemed a very circuitous route we took. I swear we went up and down the same two hills three or four times! And half way up, one of those times… or maybe it was on the way down… the sun came out! The clouds parted and there was blue sky! We had a lovely rest of the afternoon walk. Mind you the ground was muddy and we were all wet and cold… but their lightheartedness was really contagious. And it did rain again, but the sun appeared again as well.

Now, as mentioned above, I was on my actual way to Winchcombe today. Stanton was roughly about halfway - but basically took the rest of the day for us to get there! As we walked into Stanton, a very affluent part of the Cotswolds, it was starting to look grey and dark again… and started to rain. As it turned out, Geoff had driven his car to Stanton, as that was where they had parked to start their walk today. They were so nice, that they drove me to Winchcombe, probably less than 10 miles, and right to the door of the pub where I was staying. I never could have walked the rest of it at that point, as wet and as cold as I was. And it was getting dark - and still raining.

What wonderful people one meets on the way!

Posted by Laura Walking 19:35 Archived in England

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