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Day 4 - Cheltenham to Birdlip

14 or 15 miles/ 23 or 24 km Distance is approximate. Cheltenham is not directly on the Cotswold Way path.

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

Still trying to catch up! I’m now in a place called Leonard Stanley. It’s the neighbouring town to King’s Stanley, (close to Stonehouse), neither of which may be on the route map attached to each entry. It is Tuesday, Oct 25, and I have another evening of wonderful WiFi! I wrote three entries last night, from my notes and my memory, and if I can do the rest right now, then I’ll be caught up! Having said that… my apologies for any and all spelling and/or grammatical errors.

After that lovely couple, Jackie and Clive, dropped me off at the pub in Cheltenham yesterday afternoon, I got settled in my room. Some very nice person had carried my big pack up to my third floor room; it was there waiting for me! The third floor seems to be where I’m at these days! There is a bit of a routine after walking. I hung up all my damp clothes around the room, had my shower (private bathroom this time!) and got a little organized for the next day. I started writing this - again longhand. The Internet wasn’t working at all. There was a skylight window in my room, and as soon as I heard the pitter-patter of raindrops on the glass, I quickly got up and used the long pole with a hook on it, to close it. There was no rain coming in, but I was chilly after my shower.

In fact I am writing this in bed, and it’s 9:45 pm! (That should tell you something! I’m a night owl by nature!). It was a long day of walking. Tonight everything hurts. My back hurts, my left hip and knee hurt; my right knee (the one that was sore before I left Canada) is making itself known too. Last night the bed was very soft - this one is too. Probably not the greatest for my back. This is what I mean about feeling discouraged I guess. Am I too old for this? I know I’m not in the best shape for this, this time. There is a 100% chance of rain tomorrow - and I am busy thinking of ways to get there without walking! Cheltenham is not on the actual path (but it was close enough to find suitable accommodation for the night), so it will be tricky to find my way back to the actual route, not knowing the area at all - and in pouring rain. This Inn Keeper, as I was checking in, said he would drive me to a certain spot (a pub called the Air Balloon!) if all other plans failed. From there it was a short and easy walk, he said. Buses don’t run on Sundays here. So unless I am able to go with the luggage carrier fellow - I will ask him in the morning - I just really don’t want to walk in the rain, again. I took some Advil, and eventually that seemed to help. I am listening to the peaceful sound of the rain on the window above my head… I cannot keep my eyes open. It’s 10:03 pm.

I woke up a few times in the night, and heard the steady sound of heavy rain on the window. I wondered what the morning would bring.
I got up this morning at the appropriate time and got all my things together. There was no breakfast included here. The Inn Keeper had said that the luggage carrier would be back at 10 this morning (was it later on Sundays?) to pick up my bag. I was not completely sure that was right, so made sure I had everything down in the pub area (it wasn’t open) by 9 am, as per my original instructions. Since I was hoping to catch a ride with him, I also made sure that I had my boots, coat(s), poles and daypack all with me and ready to go. At 9:15, someone tried the front door to the pub. It was locked. Then in one second there was a brief knock at the side door, close to where I was standing. I opened the door and in flew a man in shorts and runners, saying I’m here to pick up a bag. I quickly asked if I could go with him, if he had room. He said sure, if I wanted to. And off he went to his van parked across the street. He flung my bag inside as if it weighed nothing (!), I got in as quickly as I could, and off we went. (Moments later it stopped pouring rain, and was just a light rain!)

I can’t tell you what an enormous relief that was. To have not missed him, if I had not been ready by 9:15, and for him to have agreed to take me, as well as my luggage! It was a really interesting ride. Of course there were other stops he needed to make, picking up and dropping off bags at various hotels and inns. We had easy conversation along the way, about many things. Very nice fellow, Mark. He said that in their high season, the company transports up to 250 bags a day, up and down the Cotswolds! He is co-owner with his business partner Peter, who is the one I was corresponding with from Canada to arrange it. Peter is away with his family in Italy at the moment, although I met him that first night in Chipping Campden at the first place I stayed. They operate this luggage transport business out of that inn.

The journey to Birdlip didn’t take very long in a car! And of course what I would have seen walking would have been much different than what was outside the car window. But I got to see a little more of Cheltenham. It took possibly an hour, probably less, including all the stops we made. He was very accommodating, and I thanked him very much. I sort of half-joked that if it continued to rain like this, he might see me again. He laughed and said that was fine. There were other bags to take into the hotel in Birdlip in addition to mine.

So it was a bit of a rest day for me. Needed, and very much appreciated.
It was not yet 11 am! Of course at this large - and really beautiful - hotel, guests had not even checked out yet! So there would be a wait, until about 3 pm for check in. I sat (very happily) in their beautiful lounge and had coffee and cake. I thought it would be a great time to catch up on this blog! And although their Internet was working fine - it didn’t seem to recognize my devices. I tried and tried to get connected, but couldn’t. Very frustrating, because I had such a wonderful chunk of time to spend doing just that! Instead, I sat and wrote longhand. And chatted with a few people who had come into the hotel lounge or pub area for their Sunday lunch or “tea”. Children too. There was a family sitting next to me who were three generations. Grandfather and 5 year-old grandson were assembling a model “Spitfire” plane from a kit. No glue involved - these pieces all snapped together. Absolutely age appropriate. It went very well!

By early afternoon, the sun was desperately trying to come out. Got to my room about 3:30. Yes, that was a very long wait. Lovely room; I should sleep well tonight. I even made a reservation in the dining room for dinner later. By 4:30 it was raining again. We’ll see what dinner brings. I will also try and find some weather on the news (on TV) later.

Posted by Laura Walking 20:53 Archived in England

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