My Trail Story by Mindy

This is the story of Mindy Bell and her experiences exploring England as she hiked on the Cotswold Way. Along with the Coast to Coast, and Hadrian’s Wall Path.

Cotswold Way
Photo by Mindy Bell

Staying on the trail with FarOut Guides 

My good friends at FarOut in Denver design and code the “go-to” apps for staying on the trail. This is a challenge for me at times! FarOut worked with the Trailblazer  in Great Britain to develop a series of British hikes that I downloaded. I hiked sections of three different trails, while based out of enchanting cottages with lovely hosts. I deemed it “reconnaissance” hiking since I only did a few sections of each trail. But it was great to see different parts of England as well as hike the unique trails.

First up was the Cotswold Way. This trail begins in the most charming town of Chipping Campden – near the 14th century Woolstaplers Hall (now a museum). For those of you not up on woolly lingo,  a wool-stapler buys wool from the producer, sorts and grades it, and sells it to manufacturers. The Cotswolds were a key center of the wool industry and I never walked a section of the trail that didn’t also include sheep. 🙂

The Cotswold Way also has loads of archeology. This includes the Crickley Site that shows occupation as early as 3,700 BC. This was occupied by some of the first Neolithic people in Britain. Another Neolithic site along the Cotswold Way is the Belas Knap Long Barrow. Excavations in the 1860’s found remains from 38 humans in the four chambers and behind the portal.

a tunnel through a hill
Photo by Mindy Bell
sheep in a field along the Cotswold Way
Photo by Mindy Bell

Each section I did was fantastic. My hubby and I also went out on a boat trip to an offshore island with PUFFINS! Not to mention diving GANNETS! Oh, and RAZORBILLS! It was glorious. 

The strangest section of the Cotswold Way goes by the Cleeve Hill golf course. Cleeve Hill is a large common area. During the spring and summer grazing sheep are allowed on the course! I got lost on the course because it all looked the same to me. Thankfully the app brought me back to a nature reserve – a much less homogenous landscape!

purple flowers on shore line
Photo by Mindy Bell
Mountain side with a beach
Photo by Mindy Bell

Next up was the Lake District where I hoped to hike part of the Wainwright Coast-to-Coast Trail. This 182-mile track, created by British hiker extraordinaire Alfred Wainwright, crosses three National Parks; the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, and North York Moors. It is not well sign-posted so having the FarOut Guides app will likely save you extra hours of hiking.

We connected with the trail near Patterdale, but didn’t hike very far. The fog limited our visibility to almost zero as we climbed, so we hung out in the lowlands with the sheep. I researched why we see so many painted sheep and got two answers – one is just identification of your sheep from your neighbors, and the other is to determine which ewes have mated – the ram is loaded up with a sack of dye and deposits it during mounting so the farmer can tell which ewes have been impregnated. The things I’m learning…

sheep in a field
Photo by Mindy Bell

My final England hiking goal was the 84-mile Hadrian’s Wall Path, steeped in the history of the Roman Empire’s northern boundary. While trail guides tend to start the hike from the east, the app has a slick feature where you can change the direction you are hiking so you don’t have to read the guide backwards, no matter where you start or which direction you go.

I first toured the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle, near the west end, to learn more about the Roman history of this area. The museum had an entertaining and educational animated film where I learned that the wall was begun in AD 122 under Emperor Hadrian to separate the Roman Empire from the barbarians (Scots!) to the north. The history is interesting and I’d love to do the entire walk, reading more about the history as I went along. You can’t see much of the wall near Carlisle, but it is another charming town, and I enjoyed walking along the river and parks.

Photo by Mindy Bell

My husband and I drove to Housesteads Fort, the best-preserved of the 16 forts along the wall. We toured the fort and you can see my favorite part above! Then he dropped me off at Cawfields, Castlemile 42. I hiked along miles of solid wall until I found him at the Twice Brewed Inn in the town of Once Brewed – or something confusing like that!

mountain side
Photo by Mindy Bell

All said, I loved the hikes I did in England and want to do more!

Related Trail Guide

Follow the Cotswold escarpment past scenic countryside and rich history on the Cotswold Way. The Cotswold Way is a National Trail in the United Kingdom. It runs from Chipping Campden to Bath, following the beautiful Cotswold escarpment for much of its course. The trail leads through quintessentially English countryside with little villages of honey-coloured stone. The trail follows open farmland all the way to the historic city of Bath. Because its route follows the Cotswold escarpment, the route often offers fantastic views of the surrounding country, including such famous landmarks as the River Severn, the Forest of Dean, the Black Mountains along the Welsh border, and the Vale of Evesham. As is the case with many trails in the United Kingdom, the Cotswold Way also passes many notable places of historic interest, including the location of the Battle of Lansdowne, Sudeley Castle, and the ruins of Hailes Abbey.