Pennsylvania to Bath
Distance: A gruelling 14 miles!
Weather: Horrible. Wet. Cold. Mud. Mud. Oh, did I mention mud?
Terrain: Whoever said that the last day was all downhill lied! It was a typical Cotswold Way walk. I was teased by tarmac tracks as I struggled through muddy bridle paths.
STORY OF THE DAY
I left Pennsylvania with confidence. It wasn’t raining yet and I knew I only had 10 miles to walk today, all downhill (they lied!)! I hopped over puddles, climbed hills until I reached Cold Ashton. From here it went all downhill (metaphorically speaking). I admit it, I was stupid. I thought I knew better and simply assumed that the trail went in a certain direction. I was full of beans and I couldn't wait to see my husband and daughter so each stride was confident and full of determination… in the wrong direction!
At Cold Ashton, the rain started so I put up my umbrella and I continued listening to the podcast that I was totally engrossed in (big mistake!). The umbrella gives limited vision which resulted in me missing the next Cotswold Way! In fact, it wasn’t until my podcast finished, 45 mins later, that I realised I had walked nearly 3 miles, in the rain, in the completely wrong direction!
My first tears of this journey
I was in the middle of nowhere, going in the wrong direction and if I am completely honest with you, I had a few tears. It was wet and miserable, and so was I!. I took Nellie off my back and nipped behind a bush to have a quick wee. Being female, in the rain and needing the loo is another experience that is not very pleasant. (too much information?). I returned to Nellie and talked to her like she was my best friend. “OK Nellie, what shall we do now? Shall we have a look at the map? ” – she didn't respond. She is not a good friend! (Nellie is my rucksack, just in case you missed that!).
I managed to navigate my way through footpaths and country lanes until I hit the A46. It was here that I had a dilemma. I could take the A46 all the way to Bath and be there in two hours. Or, I could try and find The Cotswold Way. I was on this very busy “A” road having a full on conversation with myself! I gave myself a bollocking for being so stupid in the first place, followed by a lecture “Julia, you have not walked all this way from Chipping Camden to do your last day along the main road”. It was also very dangerous as there was no path along the A46! My other choice was to walk along a quiet B road, which would have been my best option, except that the road was flooded. Again, a few more tears and another kick up the rear end before taking a deep breath and giving myself a bit of a motivational talk!
My brolly was up, and my podcast was turned off and I headed for the footpath which was not far. I walked along the A46 for a short distance until I reached the public footpath that took me across more muddy fields, hills, cows and smelly sheep. 4 miles later I felt euphoric when I spotted my first Cotswold Way sign. I did a little dance over the cattle grid whilst singing very loudly “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, Bet Your Bottom Dollar That Tomorrow, There Will Be Sun”. I’d walked for four hours and now I was back on the trail. Phew!
I traipsed through another field of cows and this time I just moo’d back at them!
I climbed the massive hill up to Landsdowne (famous battle) and hid my last Adventure Geek box. I didn’t listen to any music, books or podcasts at all for the rest of my journey. I also never walked through any villages (so couldn’t dry off or have a coffee), and I did not see another soul until I started the descent into Bath.
A muddy slide into Bath
My Nordic Poles were just like ski-poles today as I slid my way in the mud down to Bath. As I emerged from the final footpath into a park, my two little robins were sitting on the fence as if to say “well done, you are nearly there”. I thanked them and had a burst of energy as I launched Google Maps to see how far the Abbey was. I then receive a text from Matt “you are nearly there! Keep going” – Knowing that I’d made it this far and my family were waiting for me at the Abbey was all about too much. I burst into tears!
The final walk through Bath seemed to go on forever. It’s such a beautiful city and I will certainly return in the future. I felt bad as I didn't really take in much of Bath at all. I took a few photos but all I wanted to do was reach the Abbey and give my family the biggest hug ever.
The Abbey is hidden within the heart of the City. As I put my backpack on the bench and sat down for a well-earned rest my family appeared from around the corner. Hugs all round! What a day!!