For this walk we used: Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL45 and the windrush-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 Windrush and the Warden’s Way in the Cotswolds. We had already walked along these trails between Naunton and Bourton-on-the-Water (5.5 miles), which you can read about here.
Having walked to Winchcombe along the Warden’s Way we stayed overnight at a traditional Cotswold inn, the White Hart. It was full of character and atmosphere, and I loved it. We had dinner next to the log fire, and found plenty of vegan things we could eat, including a selection of olives and bread, tomato and red pepper soup, rocket salad and triple-cooked chips.
The following day, after a satisfying vegetarian breakfast minus the eggs, we set off along the Windrush Way. It was a beautiful morning, and once again we passed Sudley castle which looked like a scene from a fairytale. We strode out across grassy fields, making good progress, until we were stopped in our tracks by the muddiest of mud patches I have ever seen. We were puzzled about what to do, wading through wasn’t really an option. We attempted to make a bridge with an old piece of fence post, but that didn’t work. Realising we would have to find an alternative route, we scoured the hedges for any gaps. I found one, but it was still impassable. Suzy found another, and we squeezed through the brambles and jumped across the stream. I was a bit concerned about what might lie ahead. Sure enough there was another huge mud patch at the far side of the field, but luckily we managed to wade through, and those were the two most difficult parts of the whole walk.
Heading up and away, with Winchcombe now far behind us, the wind started to pick up while low cloud rolled in and filled the valley with rain. I sat on a log to change my already damp socks, Goretex lined boots are too hot! We were hungry, but the wind was so cold that it was not the place to stop for long. We pushed on up the hill, in search of somewhere more sheltered for lunch. A few fields later, we came across a pile of stones. A farmer was rebuilding a stone wall, and had made two seats from the rubble. They were perfect, sheltered from the wind, and with a beautiful view. We sat down to eat our peanut butter rolls.
In the woodland after ‘Tally Ho’ house we hit a metaphorical wall. We stopped to rest again, and nibble at some crisps and olives, but our spirits were low. I was wondering how on earth I was going to make it back to the car as my feet were sore, and both of us were feeling so tired. But we had been in that frame of mind many times before, and knew to be positive, and complete the journey one step at a time. After a while we remembered we hadn’t eaten that day’s chunk of banana bread! It provided us with a much needed boost of energy, and we felt so much better after that.
We kept walking for what seemed like an eternity, and eventually came to the end of a sandy track where there was a clay Pigeon shoot. I was glad it wasn’t on. After crossing more fields, we wandered into the pretty village of Aylworth, and I knew it wasn’t too much further. It would have been easy to miss the left turn up a steep hill towards Naunton, but fortunately we didn’t. This was where our journey along the Windrush Way ended, as we joined the Diamond Way (not marked) and after the golf course Naunton’s rooftops came into sight.
We were surprised that we didn’t enjoy this part of the Windrush Way quite as much as the Warden’s Way, but it is still a very interesting walk and well worth doing.
Our Rating: 4/5