Led by John Bartram of the Cotswold Way Association (front left) and Mike Cripps of the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens (front right), walkers started the 102 mile relay walk of the Cotswold Way in Bath on Saturday. Image by Russell Sach
A celebratory relay walk of the 102 mile Cotswold Way route began in Bath on Saturday 11th September, with the first team walking from Bath to Cold Ashton. Their 10 mile walk coincided neatly with the start of the Bathscape Walking Festival 2021.
The relay, organised by Margaret Reid, Head Voluntary Warden, and Becky Jones, Access and Volunteer Lead at the Cotswolds National Landscape (CNL), will see a baton being passed along the entire length of the Cotswold Way between relay teams made up of CNL team members, Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, Ramblers, and volunteer walking teams from local businesses Robert Welch Designs and John Lewis in Cheltenham.
Each day of the week will see a new team taking the baton, designed and made by Robert Welch, and walking a section of the route. The aim of the relay walk is to celebrate everything the Cotswold Way has to offer: spectacular views, quintessentially Cotswold towns and villages, and an unforgettable walking experience. More than that though, it is to raise awareness of what it takes to look after a national trail like the Cotswold Way: the time, effort and funds spent taking care of pathways, stiles, gates, and access. Much of the maintenance work along the route is completed by volunteers, but few of the tens of thousands of walkers who enjoy the route each year fully understand how much work goes on behind the scenes. From scrub clearing, to way marking, to mending and installing access points, the work on the Cotswold Way continues all year round.
John Bartram, Chair of the Cotswold Way Association, commented, “The Cotswold Way has delighted walkers for 50 years, and what better time to celebrate it and to ensure that there are sufficient funds to keep it in first class condition.”
Becky Jones, Volunteer and Access Lead at Cotswolds National Landscape, said, “The success of the trail over the last 50 years has been down to the volunteers: from the Ramblers who created the route, to the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens who have given their time, skills, and enthusiasm to maintaining and improving it to make it such an important feature of the Cotswolds landscape for everyone to enjoy.”
And there is more to do – with a greater emphasis than ever before on working to make traditional walking routes more accessible to disabled ramblers, funds are needed now to continue to adapt appropriate sections of the route so that a greater range of audiences can enjoy and explore what it has to offer.
The relay teams will conclude their efforts on Sunday 19th September with a final leg from Broadway to the start/end marker stone for the Cotswold Way in Chipping Campden. And after that? Very likely a huge quantity of well-deserved tea and cake! Members of the public are encouraged to look at ramblers.org.uk/gloucestershire and Cotswoldsaonb.org.uk websites to find guided walks featuring sections of the Cotswold Way to experience the route for themselves. To contribute funds to the Cotswold Way Association, please visit cotswoldwayassociation.org.uk/fundraising/
For more information about the Cotswold Way Association, please visit https://cotswoldwayassociation.org.uk/