Day 4 was another early start at the top of Crickley Hill, with Judo accompanying me for this 14 mile section along the top of the escarpment above Cheltenham to Cleeve Hill. The weather was still humid but thankfully there was a bit of a breeze for most of the route and it remained cool enough for the dogs throughout the first few hours.
The views once we got out of Crickley Hill Country Park and back up on Leckhampton Hill, were just stunning and we took time to just admire them and appreciate we were more or less the only ones on the hill. We also got to see the Devil’s Chimney and Leckhampton Limekilns, although we deviated slightly from the trail and added in a monster hill in the process.
The Cotswold Way then led us (gently) down the hill to cross the A435 and back up the other side into some woods. The trail has been very conveniently set up so that you have to do very little on roads and wherever there are roads, they tend to have pavements or be quiet lanes for safety.
We wound our way through a couple more woodlands, Lineover and then Dowdeswell Wood, where we started the climb back up to Prestbury Hill Nature Reserve. I did comment at this point that it was like trekking in a rainforest with the humidity, so I was grateful when we were back out on the hill again with the breeze.
At the main Cleeve Hill carpark after 14 miles, we swapped dogs over for the last 6 miles of the day, down into Winchcombe. I had the company of Tegan for this leg as she had missed the two long days. We had a killer hill just a mile and a half into the run and we all had to practically crawl up it. That was hardest bit of the day 4 trails and not something I’d like to do again in a hurry!
Once we were yet again back up on the hill, we travelled across some fields to the ancient Belas Knap Long Barrow, which was swarming with people because of the beautiful day. We had a little rest in the shade of the Long Barrow and let a large group of kids ahead of us over the style, before catching them up and overtaking further down the hill.
The next few miles brought us down the hill through some fields with grazing sheep and into the town of Winchcombe, where we ended the day on a total of 20 miles. We passed by the entrance to Sudeley castle and then down the main street to our waiting crew and vans, happy to have completed another day successfully, if a little slower than we would perhaps have intended.