17.2 – miles – Sun and clouds playing catch-me-if-you-can in a merry breeze
The rain played catch-me-if-you-can too – and it caught me! It went like this: first there were a few spots of rain, which I ignored as it was so light; then the rain got heavier, which I dared not ignore, so out came my weatherproofs and rucksack cover, all of which took five minutes to put on; by the time I had finished the rain had stopped; it was too much effort to take them all off again so I kept going getting hotter and sweatier… until I couldn’ bear it any longer and I took them all off. Ten minutes later it started raining again. And this sequence happened, not once, but three times!
As I climbed Cleeve Hill, feeling still-muzzy after my celebration the day before, I was surprised and thrilled to see that it was familiar chalk downland. It was the kind of hill I was only too pleased to expend effort ascending, as the top was a long escarpment, which I took great pleasure in following. The town of Cheltenham was seldom out of sight for the rest of the day, and I viewed it from the north-east, the east, the south-east, and by the time I reached the Iron Age fort at Lechampton Hill, I was already looking at it from the south.
I was getting very tired, so settled for the relatively close village of Birdlip as my destination, and after much needed supper and beer in the Royal George, pitched my tent in near darkness in the dense and ancient beechwood just outside the village.