Our Anniversary Foot Trail – 21 years young

It’s an unseasonably warm sunny October day in the deepest rural Cotswolds in England. 8 of us are gathering at a Foot Trails country inn, in anticipation of some wonderful walking to mark and celebrate Foot Trails 21st anniversary this year!

We’re a group of travellers and adventurers from the UK and the USA. David Howell will be guiding us over 3 days, accompanied by Foot Trails co-founder Alison Howell and Maggie and Alastair from the Foot Trails team.

We will be exploring the Cotswolds off the beaten track. Enjoying an area where both of our families have a strong history and connection.

Tonight is a relaxing start. Drinks in the bar of our country inn followed by dinner. We set off in the morning to follow along the River Windrush.

Day 2

Pablo the cockerel welcomed us to breakfast with a cock-a-doodle-doo! We set off on our walk into the early morning mist. A heavy dew on the grass tested the waterproof nature of our boots!

We passed Asthall Manor where the Mitford sisters grew up and followed the River Windrush. Our paths led us past hedgerows filled with red rosehips, hawthorn berries and blackberries. The signs of autumn. Mist hovered in the distance and sat along the river. We chatted and sometimes walked silently taking in the views of the landscape. Occasionally the sound of a pheasant filled the air or the shrill call of a buzzard or kite overhead.

As lunchtime neared we came to Burford – a market town with a long history. The town today is made up of an eclectic mix of houses and buildings from different centuries. We paused at a pub for lunch – baguettes filled with all sorts of goodies and platters of meat and olives, chips and salad and the most amazing tasting bread.

After lunch we enjoyed some free time exploring Burford with a little shopping for some. Our walk soon led us out of the town and back into fields alongside the River Windrush. It was a really peaceful spot with the sound of water in certain spots and a fisherman on the bank. 

Soon we were back at our country inn some 9 miles later. Ready to take off our boots and enjoy an afternoon cup of tea before dinner.

Day 3

After breakfast we jumped aboard a minibus for the short drive to the start of our walk.
Today we took a 9 mile trail through some of the areas most beautiful and off the beaten track Cotswold villages. We passed endless charming cottages and grand manor houses. We also saw deer.

At lunch we paused at the pub and enjoyed local pork and apple sauce rolls, goats cheese rolls and salads and fries.

In the afternoon the sky turned milky white and the landscape took on the effect of pale muted layers of countryside. We passed a field bright red with poppies.

We hopped back on the minibus a little weary but very relaxed and happy! We certainly saw the Cotswolds off the beaten track. Looking forward to a nice hot soak in the bath before dinner!

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Day 4

We started the day with a leisurely breakfast before hopping aboard the minibus for a short drive to the start of the trail.

In our first village we stood opposite the old telephone exchange and a village stores that used to have the village bath house. The overnight rain had luckily stopped but the raindrops clung onto flowers and plants giving them a jewelled effect. The wet brought out the colour of the landscape and trees more vividly. 

Our morning walk was punctuated with countless beautiful Cotswolds stone cottages and houses. We were off the beaten path. Quite some distance from a large town. We had the countryside almost to ourselves.

Our next village had the remains of a priory founded by the Knights of the Hospitaller. Here the church carried stone carvings around the south and north doors created some 900 years ago!

At lunchtime we reached our third village. Here the village pub had been an inn since 1856! It had a wonderful cosy atmosphere with two fires burning. Wonderful on an autumn day. We all chatted over lunch and enjoyed toasted cheese sandwiches on Sourdough bread and fried in butter!

It was difficult to pull ourselves away from the warmth of the pub but we stepped out into the fresh air once more. Our afternoon walk led us through a peaceful river valley where we crossed the water on stepping stones. Here we saw sheep and heard the cry of buzzards overhead.

Soon we were arriving to our final village. One of the party gathered windfall apples to make a crumble at home! And the bus met us again to drive us back to our country inn for hot baths and tea.

In the evening we enjoyed our supper together before our last night of rest ahead of our farewells in the morning.

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