The Cotswold Way frequently meanders inexplicably in circles or three-quarters complete rectangles – often bringing you back after a few kilometres to a point which, had you walked in a straight line, was only a few hundred metres from your starting point. It was undoubtedly this counter intuitive approach to orienting a path which led us to temporarily head off in our own direction, notwithstanding the frequent way marking. Chatting as we passed through Crickley Hill Country Park, we obviously missed a way marker sending us back in the direction from which we had just come, and instead plunged straight on down the hill to a laneway where the only way marker was for the Gloucestershire Path. Declining to follow that path, we headed up the laneway until we reached the A417. As I knew from reading the guidebook the night before that we needed to follow the A417 for a bit, I rejected Rob’s suggestion that we check the map and instead insisted that we head down (none of this North, South, East, West rubbish for me) the A417. Rob, as he always does when faced with my implacable certitude, waited for a while (a bit more than a km) and then pointed out that I couldn’t be right. A check of the map revealed that there were two A417s heading in different directions which met at a roundabout in the opposite direction to which we had headed. We reversed direction and headed back up to the roundabout, which was where the actual Cotswold Way joined the road. We then headed along the correct A417. In my defence it is not clear to me why two roads headed in different directions would both be named A417.
In terms of the actual day’s walk, there was a little bit too much road walking and a disappointing lack of tea rooms for me to be entirely happy. The day’s highlights were Leckhampton Hill, the site of an old fort, and Crickley Hill which has had various settlements dating back as far as some time between 3000 and 4000BC. We also saw a deer in the woods leading up to Crickley Hill. Birdlip, the day’s destination, is a small village which sat on the old roman road, Ermin Street, which ran between Gloucester and Cirencester. There is not much there for the traveller other than one pub, the Royal George, which was built in the 19th century.
Food and Accommodation: The Royal George, which is part of the Old English Inns chain. The food was fairly standard pub fare.