A longer day today at 13 miles (21km), albeit the distance as the crow flies would have been much less. The makers of the route seem to have delighted in having the rambler wander around in circles (or squares, as the case may be) in an evident effort to link up all of the local attractions.
We left Winchcombe via the pretty Valentine Lane before striking out once more across fields.
From there we passed the town cricket pitch with views across to Sudeley castle in the distance. From the cricket pitch it was a climb up the hill to Belas Knap, a Neolithic long barrow of c.3800bc in which the remains of 31 people were found when it was excavated in the mid 19th century.
Leaving Belas Knap, the path crossed more fields (there is a pattern here) and then descended through Breakheart Plantation and crossed over fields to go around behind Postlip Hall. The fields behind Postlip Hall were the start of the climb up to the top of Cleeve Hill, which at 317m above sea level is the highest point on the Way. It was Easter Sunday when we crossed Cleeve Common, so it was filled with people walking, mountain biking and playing golf. It seemed odd to have all of these activities occurring in the one spot, but apparently it is not unusual in the UK. It seemed to work – the golfers patiently waited for people to pass before swinging their clubs.
Refreshments and accommodation were available in the area, however we pressed on around the Common beneath an old fort (which we didn’t notice) and on to a wildlife conservation area which is supposed to be popular with butterflies (we saw one, which was not on the identification board so I can give no further information other than it was either a butterfly or a moth). This part of the Way was used by both horses and mountain bikers and was the muddiest section of the path we had encountered to date.
The conservation area was the last of the points of interest on the Way for the day. From there it was a mixture of fields and laneways before we descended to the road at Dowdeswell Reservoir, where we left the Way to reach our accommodation at Charlton Kings, a suburb of Cheltenham,
Accommodation: Charlton Kings Hotel which has been extensively and tastefully refurbished. Notwithstanding the expensive looking décor, the hosts didn’t bat an eyelid at our muddy boots and gaiters.
Food: The Charlton Kings Hotel only does bar snacks but there are a number of restaurants close by. Even though the restaurants were close by we went for the lazy option of bar snacks and not walking any further for the day.