We were up early, determined to get to Bath so that we could catch a train home to The Potteries during the afternoon. After breakfast, the lady of the house showed us a route that avoided walking along perilous roads. This involved walking through pasture adjacent to the busy Freezing Hill Lane, before crossing the road and going down the drive to Hamswell Farm. From here was a footpath to Hall Lane and back onto The Cotswold Way.
This worked reasonably well, although I missed the turn for the footpath and we ended up at Hamswell Farm. We had to retrace our steps up a steep incline to pay for my mistake! Having got to CW, we immediately started to climb again, up to Lansdown, the site of a Civil War battle in 1643. Once again, we had a sense of vantage. The day was bright and blustery with bands of grey cloud scuttling across the sky from the south-west. We could see that it was pouring down at places nearby, and rainbows were a recurrent feature of our morning. But….we lead a charmed life; except for a few desultory drops, we kept dry all the way to Bath.
From the battlefields of Lansdown, it was all downhill.
That is, until we reached the outskirts of Bath itself, where CW, rather than take us to the city centre, decided to climb Primrose Hill which gave us a view of the back end of the unprepossessing suburb of Weston. A second climb up to Sion Hill tested our loyalty- we broke ranks and headed down Weston Park East, turning into Weston Road to get to Royal Victoria Park.Although this involved walking two sides of a triangle, we had had enough of futile descending & ascending. At Royal Victoria Park, our guide promised us, “toilets, snacks, kiosk & picnic tables”. The kiosk was for the park’s approach golf course (one obviously doesn’t have pitch and putt in Bath). The toilets were locked. Keys were only for members or for those who could proffer a receipt for their round of golf. The young lad in the kiosk said that rules is rules. We avoided the temptation to reek our revenge in the most obvious fashion; our continence was heroic.
The walk in to Bath may have been spectacularly urbane, but we were preoccupied by our lower bodies. Our bladders demanded haste, but our legs and feet refused to comply. As we approached the official beginning/end of the CW, we found an unpretentious hostelry, The Raven. Their toilets were open to all and sundry. Not only that but they served a decent pie – Heidi (goats’ cheese, sweet potato, spinach and roasted garlic) and Fungi Chicken (chestnuts as well as the two main ingredients). Hey, we were in celebratory mood….what with nearly completing our epic walk, and with freshly emptied bladders. So, we had two beers, Ravens Gold brewed by The Blindmans Brewery of Leighton near Frome, and a glorious pint of….. I’ve forgotten the name, but it was from Teignworthy Brewery in Newton Abbott.
Back on the mean streets of Bath, we hustled through the crowds to The Abbey, and there, set in the paving stones, is a circular bronze plaque to confirm that we had indeed done it – EFI as our son put it.
It was a short hobble on to Bath Spa Railway Station. The journey home was straightforward, changing at Bristol. In the late afternoon sunshine, we looked east to find clear views of the Cotswold ridge with its thick mop of woodland. Farewell, CW! Great to spend time with you!