Statistics: 10.75 miles, ascent 1460′, descent 1069′.
Sarah and Nick served us a tasty breakfast in Blair House’s very pleasant dining room. The following morning June joined in our first activity, a visit to a local point of interest. She walked with us to the south end of Winchcombe and up the hill to Sudeley Castle, a 15th-century castle that had replaced an earlier, 12th-century edifice. Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife and his widow, had lived in this rebuilt facility until her death. The castle is grandiose and impressive and the gardens are still maintained in an immaculate condition. Some portions of the property incorporate ruins from the earlier castle. We toured both the house and the grounds for a very enjoyable morning.
After our tour and bidding good-by to June, we rejoined the Cotswold Way, beginning a long, steady climb through a grassy hillside dotted with resting sheep.
As we ascended, we had a view of the castle and Winchcombe behind us before being engulfed by woods. At the top, we were greeted with a Neolithic burial mound containing a “long burrow” known as Belas Knap Burrow. Dating back about 5,500 years, Belas Knap Burrow is 178′ long, has five entrances and at least 38 graves have been discovered there.
Continuing on into a forest, we were treated with hillsides covered in bluebells.
When we popped out of the forest, we realized that our planned route had taken us in a large U and now, once again, had a view of Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe and several fields filled with recently shorn sheep.
Cresting the next hill, we viewed Postlip Hall, which, in 1614, is a medieval hall that was remodeled in the Jacobean style.
Walking along a lush, wooded path behind Postlip Hall, our path along the Way soon headed up Cleeve Hill.
At the crest of Cleeve Hill was Cleeve Hill Golf Club. Not only were the views
Walkers were welcome to stop in the golf club for refreshments, so we took advantage of that offer without realizing that we were just minutes away from our B&B, Cleeve Hill Hotel. Finally arriving at the hotel, we were welcomed by our gracious host,