Yesterday, Leigh Allinson, Will Calver Jones and I completed 48hr Cotswold Way Walking Challenge 2015. We did the first half back in July, covering 30 and 20 miles over two days. Ultimately, we were beaten by the weather and the terrain.
Leaving Cheltenham at 6am we arrived at Edge to set off just after 6:30, in the dark.
The first half of the route was pretty tough going, but we managed an average speed of around 2.5mph. Climbing through damp woods and across fields in the dark, following the heels of the person in front, slowed our pace, which was already hindered by the gradients we had to tackle.
Ten hours after we started, the light was beginning to fade, and we were looking at spending the next seven hours walking, through twenty miles of the Cotswolds' most spectacular scenery. In the dark.
We were aching, and blisters were making themselves known. After dosing on ibuprofen, most of my aches, which had been with me for the previous five hours, disappeared. Our pace also picked up as we were treated to long stretches of flat or gentle climbs.
Shortly after leaving Cold Ashton, in the dark, we realised we realised that we were being followed, most likely by Slenderman. We hadn't seen anyone else since we left Old Sodbury - why would anyone be out in the hills around Cold Ashton at 10pm?
When you reach Cold Ashton you're only ten miles from the finish. Although quite flat, with just a few climbs, those ten miles took nearly four hours. Just outside Beach I felt the skin holding my blisters finally give up. We still had about seven miles to go, so I wasn't looking forward to those.
When we reached Bath at about 1:15 we felt like the only sober people in the city. We certainly looked out of place. Tired, hungry, mucky, and limping.
We lost track of the Cotswold Way signs soon after arriving in the city. Luckily, the signs are small circular black stickers, with silver print, stuck to black lampposts, and many of them have been peeled off. With just a few hundred yards to go we decided to just head for the abbey. We'd done the work, now we just needed to find the marker.
Leigh spotted Mary-Jane Sweeting sitting in the car right outside the abbey, parked in a bus stop. Police were around, but were too busy marshalling drunks to their buses to pay much attention. Besides, it was approaching 2am.
We quickly dumped our gear, found the marker, posed for a photo, then got in the car.
"I like cars," said Will, as we settled into our seats.