Monday 13 August 2012

A Wet Wolds Wander (12/8/12)

A photo-lite trip report this time – I forgot to take my camera!

Like millions of other Brits, we have spent much of the last couple of weeks mesmerised by the goings-on at London 2012. Although we had been grumpily underwhelmed by the prospect in the weeks, months and years prior to the opening ceremony, come the day we caved in and got hooked by stories emanating from the Olympic Park and elsewhere.

But despite the obvious success of Team GB, by last weekend it seemed the time had come to get out and do a bit of exercise again for ourselves, having contented ourselves with most local potters in recent weeks.

So, with a decent forecast predicted, we packed lunch and a minimum of gear into the car and headed for the Cotswolds. It had been a fair while since our previous visit, so we were happy to settle for an old favourite circuit from the pretty village of Guiting Power.

Now I know many people consider the Cotswolds to be little more than a countryside theme park of chocolate-box villages for the minor aristocracy, “get-off-my-land” media-types, and writers of middle class angst novels; the air rich with the pervasive whiff of money, privilege and horseshit. But despite these obvious attractions, look carefully and there is still an undeniably beautiful landscape of wooded hillsides, long ridges and clear streams waiting to be explored.

Although perhaps less suited to the hill-walker or backpacker, the Cotswolds is an area buzzing with opportunities for the day walker and LDP-er. Besides the eponymous Cotswold Way, within a 3-mile radius of Stow-on-the-Wold alone there are no fewer than 9 other waymarked LDPs with a huge variety of length, difficulty and theme on offer – the Wardens Way, the Windrush Way, The Diamond Way, the Gloucestershire Way, the Gustav Holst Way, the Oxfordshire Way, the Monarch’s Way, the Macmillan Way and the Heart Of England Way – let alone the web of interconnecting paths yet to be “Way-ified”. Phew!

Anyhow: with our circuit chosen and our rucksacks packed, we headed off under a disconcertingly grey sky. Despite a reasonable spell of weather and an encouraging forecast, the promised early morning sunshine had faded, and before we had crossed more than a couple of fields, spots of rain began to fall. Weather forecasting appears to have much in common with the investment industry: past performance being no guarantee of future outcomes.

Over the next half an hour, a steady drizzle set in, and we took an early lunch in case conditions worsened. Which they did, and for the next 90 minutes we trudged along – happily enough, immersed in our own thoughts – through full-on rain, occasionally distracting ourselves from soggy discomfort by discussing the performance or otherwise of our current crop of summer gear (of which more in a future post!).

In the end we decided to cut down our planned 13-mile route, taking a shortcut along metalled lanes to lop off around 3 miles of walking. Of course, at this point, the rain relented slightly – but not altogether, as a final soaking just before getting back to the car demonstrated.

So, not quite the sunny ramble we had envisaged. However, in spite of the soaking we had enjoyed our outing, although it was a relief to shed our sodden rucksacks, jackets and boots when we got back to the car.

One important lesson we did learn, though: being out in the rain can be quite enjoyable – but it helps if you have a bit of decent gear to keep the elements at bay!

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