When I agreed to lead the walk for the South Midlands Group on 8th October 2017 our walk co-ordinator Mark Parker made clear it must be a walk in the country so we could get the benefit of the Autumn leaves. Living in Cheltenham I thought that it would be a good idea to include the Cotswold Way which runs about 3 miles east of the town.
21 walkers duly met up in a large layby 4 miles east of Cheltenham which was fortunately not as busy as it is later in the day. We negotiated the 3 metre trip along the A40 before we entered the footpath network which was going to take us up to the Cotswold way near Cleeve Common. There was such a buzz of conversation that the noise of the A40 was soon lost. As we neared the Cotswold way we ran into a group of horse riders who waited for our large group of walkers to pass.
By the time we started down the Cotswold way the sun had come out and it was getting warm. The views were magnificent. When we got to the tree line we were faced with a barrage of green leaves and a feel of the return of Summer. A coffee break was taken to get us ready to cross the A40 at the Dowdswell reservoir for the steep climb up to the lunch stop. The steep hill divided the fitter from the slower and I joined the slower group. We all arrived safely and took a picnic lunch in warm sunshine with a great view of Cheltenham down the valley.
After lunch we ran into another walking group who were taking a particular interest in a large beech tree. Some of our Group were taking an interest in some of their Group in the Summer conditions. We then left the Cotswold way and headed east towards Dowdswell many metres below. At this point I got the Group on the wrong path but we were rewarded with another fantastic view of the valley before we returned to the farm track through the farm.
As we got down towards the bottom of the valley we were in a large field with a lot of cows with their calves. We waited and they obligingly moved through to the neighbouring field with a few harsh stares on the way.
We had now reached posh Cotswold with a very pretty church, security guards outside the big house and a fish and chip supper in the village hall on Friday night.
After a short stretch along the road we were blessed with a gentle woodland and field stroll into Andoversford past the old gates of another large house. The village pub hosted most of the group for refreshments while I lead the remainder back across the A40 and the last mile through the fields with the grass still growing and a feeling of late Summer. I then returned to the pub to find everyone in cheerful mood ready to walk the final mile.
The 8 miles rewarded us for the ups and downs with some truly spectacular views on a warn October Sunday.
NB. I wish to clarify that I am not nearly as dictatorial as Tom makes me out to be above, but I do find he responds well to a bit of discipline. Excellent walk Tom, thank you. Mark.