he Cotswold Way, which is a long distance trail of over 100 miles off road running, is something I have wanted to complete with the dogs since a failed attempt at the West Highland Way nearly 5 years ago now.
My friend Karen and I decided over 6 months ago we were definitely going to do it and the training began almost straight away, after the European Championships in Scotland in October last year. Although training through the winter was easier, unfortunately for us, the weekend we had chosen for our run turned out to be one of the warmest of the year.
The advantage of the good weather were the amazing views we were afforded along the way, the brutal hills out of Bath (where we started) gave us our first taster of the route and the scenery we could expect to see.
The views from the top of the escarpment above Bath were amazing but the temperatures made the climbs harder
Day 1 took us from the centre of Bath by the Abbey, to Tormarton and included a big climb out of Bath up to Lansdown then across through the village of Cold Aston, cutting across some A roads before finishing up in a lay-by near Tormarton. The first day wasn't too bad in terms of temperature and was the shortest run day at 15 miles.
Day 2 was Tormarton to Dursley and again included some big ascents and descents along the rolling Cotswold hills. The Cotswold Way has been set up to include the best views the route has to offer and we weren't disappointed, the last loop gave a fantastic view right over the Bristol channel - our total mileage for the day was 25 miles.
Day 3 was the longest and toughest day as far as I was concerned, it was also warm and I did have concerns about how the dogs would cope. However, we found that there were plenty of natural water stops and troughs for the dogs to cool down in. The down hills were as brutal as the up hills and I was glad I'd chosen to run each leg of the Cotswold Way with only one dog. We finished the 27 miles for that day with smiles on our faces at the top of Crickley Hill.
Day 4 took us from Crickley Hill along the top of another Cotswold escarpment, over Leckhampton Hill and then after a brief drop down into a valley, back up along the top of Cleeve Hill. The weather again was warm but we started early and finished by lunch time in the town of Winchcombe having completed another 20 miles.
Day 5, our final day, started leaving the town and up a hill (a recurring theme on this challenge) through lots of farmland and woodland until we reached our dog swapping point in Broadway. We were swapping dogs every day at a convenient point and were followed everywhere by our support team in vans with the other dogs. The hill out of Broadway was one of the toughest we encountered (just what you need on the last day!) but once at the top by the Broadway Tower, the rest of the route was downhill. So following a long, gentle downhill across more fields to the end of the Cotswold Way (or start if you choose), we arrived in Chipping Camden having completed another 19 miles.
So with a total of 106 miles done, all 106 by the humans and then sections by each of my 3 dogs, we finally finished our epic challenge and went home for a well-deserved rest! I wanted to say thanks to everyone who supported us and sponsored us, between Karen and I, we raised £1000 for charity which made the whole experience even more worth while.
The NATBs will be keeping you up to date on their members, their dogs and events for the 2015/2016 Season. Hope you enjoy!