In preparation for the 102-mile walk along The Cotswold Way, I knew I needed to get some hill training under my feet. I will be averaging around 15 miles a day so it is important that I can easily walk that distance without feeling overwhelmed or fatigued.
My Nordic Walking Club colleague Diana suggested The Knightley Way, which is an 11.mile route from Badby Woods to Greens Norton in Northamptonshire. Diana is also walking The Cotswold Way with me, so not only was the walk a good idea for getting in practice for the walk itself, but it was also a good idea to see if we had a similar pace, and could walk with each other for hours on end without getting on each other’s nerves.
My sister-in-law (Helen) decided to join our outing as she is new to hiking and was very enthusiastic about the adventure. Helen had recently purchased new hiking boots and with exception of a few park runs (or park walks), she had not really worn them in. Helen borrowed my daughters Nordic Poles, but they soon ended up attached to Diana’s backpack. If you have never been trained on how to walk with Nordic poles they can be more of a hindrance rather than a walking aid. Personally, I can never imagine going on a hike without my trusty poles.
An eerie shrinein Badby Woods
We met outside The Windmill Pub in the quaint little village of Badby and Diana led the way. The trail was waymarked quite clearly, with exception to a few areas when my trusty Geocaching app came in handy (Inbuilt OS Map is ace). The first part of the trail takes you through Badby Woods. I have walked through Badby Woods many times and it is absolutely stunning when the bluebells are out. Today, we stumbled upon a little shrine (which we all thought was a kids den and play area). Apparently, this shine has been here for many years, but no=one really knows why it was created in the first place. It was all rather spooky.
We emerged from the woods onto the escarpment and the beauty of Fawsley Hall and the surrounding area was simply breathtaking. All this beauty is on our doorstep and I find myself questioning why I don’t walk this particular walk more often.
We climbed many stiles, walked over endless muddy fields, got lost a few times and sang out hearts out to Meatloaf “Bat out of Hell” before we stopped for a well deserved early lunch at Farthingstone. The pub was full of character. From the homemade pork pies to the open log fire and the cosy sofa’s. They had a ceiling full of jugs and a toilet full of bedpans (yes!, they had a rather weird collection of bedpans that were displayed in the ladies loo). I was curious to see what was being displayed in the men’s loo, but I guess I will never know.
Click the video below to see the bedpans!
At Farthingstone, Helen admitted that her feet were sore and she had a few hot spots from where her new boots were rubbing. We sat on the very pink benches outside the pub as Helen unveiled her feet to the world. They were not “hot spots” but fully blown blisters on both heels. Trusty Compeed was extracted from Nellie (my pack), and I instructed Helen to let her feet breathe and remove one layer of socks. We applied the Compeed plasters and she was ok to walk a further three miles to Litchborough.
As Helen hobbled up to Litchborough church I watched her with pride, knowing that she had achieved a lot for someone who has never walked a hike before. All three of us were sat on a bench outside of the church waiting for a lift and I asked Helen the question “Has the pain in your heels put you off hiking in the future?” Helen simply responded “I didn’t expect to be walking over muddy fields, and I now know that a goal of 26 miles for the Moon Walk may be best to do next year rather than this year, but it has not put me off walking. When is the next one?”
I am pleased to report that Diana and I walk at a very similar pace and we can chat to each other about anything. We covered all sorts of topics from family history to spirituality, so I know we will get on absolutely fine on The Cotswold Way. We have agreed to walk the full 11,5 miles again in a few weeks time. Helen and a few others will be joining us, so watch this space!