The day’s statistics: 11.7 miles, ascent approx. 1000′, descent approx. 1000′.

Upon waking I could hear steady rain on the window. Today we would get wet! All wrapped up in rain gear, we began the walk at the Cotswold Way stone marker that is just outside one end of the Market Hall.

Beginning marker of the Cotswold Way

Walking through town after leaving the marker, we passed by some lovely homes before reaching the trailhead where we met many other hikers also planning to make the trek to Bath. Although we usually see and get to know other hikers along any trails taken, this group was slower or faster than we were, since we only saw two of them, a father and son team, anywhere on the trail. Once on the path, we slogged through mud until we reached Dover’s Hill, named after a Captain Robert Dover. In 1612, Captain Dover started on this hill what he named “Olympick Games”, consisting of leapfrog, skittles, wrestling, and shin-kicking!

Dover’s Hill

Dover’s Hill is a wide open, grassy area where on a clear day the view must be phenomenal. I imagine on a beautiful day this would be a great picnic spot; numerous picnic tables were placed along the path. Soon we were walking next to acres of yellow rapeseed fields which brightened the gray day.

Rapeseed in full bloom

Continuing, we walked what is known as Mile Drive both next to and directly through culivated fields which by this time were a sea of mud. With each step my boots became heavier and heavier with the messy, sticky mass.

Mile Drive

Relieved to see the pouring rain reduce to a drizzle, we pushed back the rain hoods and could take in the views a bit easier. Next we were greeted with the Norman style Broadway Tower which was designed by James Wyatt in 1798. Yellow primroses were scattered all around the surrounding hillside, making for a pleasing view.

Broadway Tower (center left)

Descending from this tower through blooming hawthorne trees, wildflowers and little, leaping lambs, we entered the charming village of Broadway. The streets are lined with attractive buildings made of the local, honey-colored limestone. At the town center is a wide open lawn area surrounded by shops. This was a perfect time to stop, dry off and have a cup of tea and a pastry.

Broadway

Leaving Broadway, we climbed up a steep trail that at the top gave us a splendid view back toward the Broadway village nestled at the base of the hill.

Broadway

The afternoon was spent ambling through expanses of wild garlic blooms and bluebells before steeply descending via a slick, muddy path to the little village of Stanton, described in travel books as the quintessential, perfect English village.

Stanton

We had scheduled a ride from Stanton to our night’s B&B, the New Forge House, in Toddington (a nearby town off the trail). When originally planning the trip, I had been unable to reserve a B&B in Stanton; Toddington was the best alternative. Since we arrived a little early in Stanton, we decided to visit the 12th-century church in the heart of the town. When chatting with the locals at the church, we discovered why the local B&B’s were filled: an episode of “Father Brown” was due to be shot at the Old Post House just up the street the next day.

Church of St. Michael in Stanton

After thoroughly enjoying Stanton, we called our B&B host, Clare, in Toddington to come and fetch us. She met us at “the cross” in the middle of Stanton which has been a meeting place here for centuries.

The cross or meeting place in Stanton

Her B&B was lovely with comfortable rooms and bath. A local pub was just a few minutes away for dinner and our first day on the trail was complete!

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