For this walk we used: Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL45 and the wardens-way leaflet. Distance: 13.5 miles.
I wanted my 40th birthday to be memorable, and a bit of an adventure. A mild weather forecast meant it was the perfect opportunity to finish walking the Warden’s and Windrush Way in the Cotswolds. We had already walked along these trails between Bourton-on-the-Water and Naunton (5.5 miles), which you can read about here.
First I researched hotels in Winchcombe, and booked a room at the White Hart Inn. Then we planned what items we would need. Food is a main factor in anything we do, and more so now that we are vegan. We decided to take food for 2 days, rather than picking up supplies from Winchcombe, but another time I wouldn’t do that.
Our check list looked like this:
- Water (1 litre each)
- Trekking poles
- Map with waterproof cover & pdf guides
- Compass & watch
- Phones & charger
- Cash & debit card
- Waterproof jackets, gloves, and hats
- Thermal base layers
- Spare socks & underwear
- Lightweight trainers
- Folding knife & sporks
- Paracord & tape
- Basic first aid kit
- Shewee, toilet paper, bin bags
- Toothbrushes & toothpaste
Not knowing how muddy the trails would be, we wanted to give ourselves plenty of hours of daylight so we set off from home just after sunrise at 07.30. We parked the car near the telephone box in Naunton, before making our way down the track to the dovecote. There was a metal gate at the bottom, which we struggled to open. It was pretty funny, there we were with all the gear, and we couldn’t open the first gate.
We had also walked some other sections of the Warden’s Way before through Guiting Power and Guiting Wood. It was nice to be able to join up the dots on the map, and it always feels comforting to be in familiar territory.
We stopped for lunch on a log at the far side of Guiting Wood to eat our hummus, carrot and falafel sandwiches, when suddenly the whole place came alive with people. There were several walking groups of at least 20 people, and a couple who looked a bit lost. We said hello cheerily through mouthfuls of food. As we were packing up to leave, the lost couple approached us. “Is this the way to the quarry?”, asked the man. Realising there are a lot of disused quarries in the area, I answered “You’d better come and have a look at the map”. He was holding a copy of Pathfinder’s Cotswold Walks, so I knew they had gone off track as we know that book pretty well. Glad to help, but trying not to sound like a know it all, I pointed them in the right direction. That was us not so long ago, I thought to myself. Now we always take a map and compass, and even so, it still isn’t always easy.
Before long we saw Winchcombe in the distance, and followed the track down the steep valley. We rested again on a bench and admired the view. A group of mountain bikers sped down the hill, waving to us as they passed.
The route became familiar once again as we made our way through fields and passed Sudley Castle on the way into Winchcombe. The White Hart Inn was very busy when we arrived, and we were half an hour too early for check-in. It was a bit of a shock after having been surrounded by peaceful countryside all day, and we took a while to adjust to the sudden noise. We ordered a couple of drinks, and found a quieter room to sit in. A log fire was gently smouldering away, and we began to relax into our new home for the night.
The Warden’s Way is a beautiful walk, well signposted and highly recommended!
Our Rating: 5/5