The Glyme Valley Way Walk...
Previously done both halves, but never together, and the first half saw me very, very lost on an epic should have been 8km but ended up 17km walk. This is an attempt at getting it right.
The Glyme Valley Way Walk, devised by BBC Oxford, is described as a 'pleasant' all day walk. I still don't know what an oxy is, but whoever wrote that was a moron.
So with some trepidation, I caught a bus to Woodstock passing through Old Woodstock, with its 1960s and 1970s semi-detached indentikit houses, through to the newer Woodstock, with its crumbling, higgle-di-piggledy workers' cottages from eons ago.
I then headed on foot to Chipping Norton, described as 'the highest town in the Cotswolds'. That was my first mistake - no one needs an uphill walk. My second? Believing the weather forecast to be 'wrong' and that I would not get very wet. Twice. Third, believing my mobile phone would have enough battery to get me there. It didn't. Fourth, believing this was a sixteen miler. It isn't - well, it isn't when one gets lost frequently. Fifth, believing the buses would run at my convenience...they don't. Still, if nothing else I am tenacious. And inclined to lunacy.
I realised pretty much straight away, this walk would be somewhat perilous. Floods, Life Rings, First Aid equipment all available upon arrival.
Very quickly, one advanced to some lovely beauty spots...
As the climb began, my fellow fallen walkers rested a while...
Thankfully, in the early stages, the route is very clearly signposted.
I then got lost. Worryingly so.
I hoped nightfall was still hours away...
I then happened upon civilisation: a gaggle of children. Thankfully, I was cautioned this would be the case...
And then it was time to relax for lunch, and to enjoy the sights and sounds of the countryside in the chocolate box village of Glympton: Motorbikes. Fast cars. Lorries. Dustcarts all singing away the day.
There was plenty to keep the brain occupied and off the ever blistering feet, for example, why gates and bollards? And what's with the superfluous gate post?
This area is very popular with politicians too. Here's one that is struggling to keep his moat maintained now he's lost his MP expenses. Although it's rumoured Theresa May loves this area too.
As I ventured further into deepest wilderness, buzzards encircled and the partridges way outnumbered any pear trees. Was very struck by the good orderly direction of the sheep though...
I befriended the local residents of Kiddington quite readily as I sheltered from the first heavy downpour of the day. The later lot, however, I found quite hostile. I nearly didn't make the gate. "Mind the cows" the farmer said. I was running too fast to tell him I thought they were bulls.
And with that, I decided to rest a while and admire the view, eating my second lunch of the day.
And then onto the final push. Thankfully Oxford County Council had some handy tips to guide me.
But in between the foliage, was a lot of astonishing Cotswolds-esque architecture to admire as I neared Chipping Norton.
And then the final hall to Chipping Norton. By now, I'm walking at such a speed, your average nonagenarian would have no trouble overtaking me.
There were sure a lot of bulls. And they sure had a lot of baby bulls with them.
And then my battery died.