Photo by Mindy Bell
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My Trail Story featuring Mindy Bell

Mindy Bell shares her experiences exploring England as she hiked on the Cotswold Way, Coast to Coast, and Hadrian's Wall Path.

Natalie McMillan      My Trail Story       01/14/2020
Natalie McMillan
My Trail Story
01/14/2020
Cotswold Way sign

Staying on the trail with Guthook Guides 

My good friends at Atlas Guides in Flagstaff design and code the “go-to” apps for staying on the trail while hiking – a challenge for me at times! They worked with the Trailblazer crew in Great Britain to develop a series of British hikes that I eagerly 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 – including the Crickley Site that shows occupation as early as 3,700 BC 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 chamber along the Cotswold Way
Photo by Mindy Bell
A sheep on a big grassy field.
Photo by Mindy Bell

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

From the bucolic Cotswolds, we headed to Pembrokeshire. Several of my friends had just walked the full 186-mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path and raved about it. Though it wasn’t yet on the Guthook Guides app, I figured if I stayed close to the coast, but didn’t go over the cliffs, I would be fine. Each section I did was fantastic and 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. 

Pink flowers by a river.
Photo by Mindy Bell
A cliff next to the ocean in the UK.
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 Guthook 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…

Sheeps with red on them in the UK.
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.

Communal latrine at Housesteads Roman Fort
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, and 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!

Hadrian's Wall
Photo by Mindy Bell

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


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Trailblazer

Our collaboration with Trailblazer guides includes hiking guides for the South Downs Way, Wainwright’s Coast to Coast, West Highland Way, Hadrian’s Wall Path, The Ridgeway, and Costwold Way.

Learn more
500+ miles       $24.99 full guide
England, South Downs Way
Photo courtesy of Trailblazer Guides
England, South Downs Way
Photo courtesy of Trailblazer Guides

Trailblazer

Our collaboration with Trailblazer guides includes hiking guides for the South Downs Way, Wainwright’s Coast to Coast, West Highland Way, Hadrian’s Wall Path, The Ridgeway, and Costwold Way.

500+ miles
$24.99 full guide
Learn more
Get our trail guide for this area!
About the Author
A woman wearing a denim jacket and a brown hat stands in a field of wildflowers.

Natalie McMillan

Natalie grew up hiking in Arizona where she fell in love with the outdoors. Her favorite hikes are to Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon and Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, UT. She loves taking pictures of people, places, and nature, which might explain why she has almost 47,000 photos currently residing on her phone. She takes care of all things related to social media and marketing and recently moved to Denver, CO from Flagstaff, AZ. You may find her frolicking around the trails and mountains of Colorado, or exploring the new city she gets to call home.