Has anyone walked the Monarch's Way between Cirencester and North Cerney? I found a detailed description of the route from a local parish that walks it every Easter and survey maps with the route superimposed, but I'm wondering whether there are likely to be practical difficulties that I'm not anticipating. This will be my first rambling trip in the Cotswolds, so I don't have experience with how the theory of England's grand tradition of public right of way works out in practice. Thanks for any advice!
England is crisscrossed by a network of public footpaths, and you can see these marked by green dashes on Ordnance Survey maps. Visit https://www.bing.com/maps/ change the view from Road to Ordnance Survey and zoom in.
Footpaths are mostly simple tracks across farmers’ fields. Stick to them rather than taking any shortcuts across crops.
Practical difficulties? Well, you’re in the countryside so they’ll be no toilets. Food and water you’ll need to carry with you.
Wear suitable footwear. Bring sunscreen and waterproofs, the weather is changeable. Take care when near cows.
The govt. even has the Countryside Code – be nice and say hello!
Few days are better spent walking than in the countryside and enjoying a pint in a country pub.
@ Ramblin on: Thanks so much for the quick reply & links!. To clarify, I'm not asking about hiking in general, but about local conditions. This path follows the River Churn, which looks on the map as if it has several channels in places. Summer is the dry season in this part of England, but does the river flood in the Spring? Is the path (the Monarch's Way) well marked? It's supposed to have blazes with King Charles' symbol, but are these signs actually on the path?
Also, I know what kind of reaction I would get if I hiked across someone's land in Kentucky. I'd be likely to be greeted with a shotgun (or these days, worse, given the amplification in weaponry available to the public). Do farmers in the Cotswolds generally buy into the tradition of public access or does the odd rogue farmer create obstacles?
I'm new to this forum, but it seems to be a wonderful place for exchange of info and ideas. Thanks, Rick!
I walked the Cotswolds Way National Trail, it was lovely and fun. We walked/hikes through fields with cows, lambs and a couple corn fields. All farmers/land owners ask is that you close all gates that you go through and that people don’t litter. All the trails/footpaths are well marked.
I don't know if the river floods (unlikely to stop you walking), but the paths can be muddy after a period of rain.
Don't count on summer being dry - who knows!
The route will be waymarked with fingerposts and markers, but take an OS map with you. They also make a wonderful keepsake.
The farmers do allow access – the paths have been there for hundreds of years.
We have walked may paths in the Cotswolds and elsewhere in England and have never encountered anything negative from landowners. Cows can be a bit tricky but not ever too much so. This is one of out favorite things to do !
Is the path (the Monarch's Way) well marked? It's supposed to have blazes with King Charles' symbol, but are these signs actually on the path?
I haven't walked that part, but there's a bit near me. As usual there are the usual fingerposts and enamel coloured arrows on posts or fenceposts to follow. The advice to always have an OS map is important, and I always have a compass in case I get turned around. These days I use the compass map on my phone and no longer carry my old compass. Become familiar with the symbol for the path you want to follow - there are often multiple paths going the same place.
Do farmers in the Cotswolds generally buy into the tradition of public access or does the odd rogue farmer create obstacles?
Not normally the farmers, although at lambing season they will often put in diversions. Don't mess with cows, just last week another dog walker was killed by a herd. Be especially careful around calving time. If a sign on a field warns of a bull take it seriously until you can be absolutely 100% sure that it isn't true at that moment.
Expect plenty of soft and wet ground at the entrance to livestock fields, and where tractors have gone shortly after rain.
While the farmers are usually fine some celebrities have decided that they are above the law and the established custom. Madonna has been in the news more than once in this regard.
While I’m not familiar with the Monarch’s Way on the ground, if it has been waymarked as it seems to have been, then the public paths will have been checked beforehand to ensure they are still extant and passable.
My experience of blockages on paths is that they are highly unusual, especially on well walked trails and as rightly pointed out, it tends to be the private owner with sense of privilege/entitlement that thinks they can obstruct paths. Farmers in the main are quite relaxed about it, knowing that the paths across their land have been there a very long time. Sure, as in life, you’ll come across the odd awkward sod and my pet peeve is signage through farmyards - contrary to what some perceive, I have no desire to hang about on someone else’s property and want to pass through as quickly as possible, so plentiful signage helps.
Look for waymarks on posts and attached to existing fingerposts, stiles and gates. Also carry a guide book with/and the relevant OS maps (and work out how to use them!) and have a quick look at the Monarch’s Way website which one would hope will detail any path diversions (unavoidably necessary from time to time in the odd spot) on your route. Be aware that many paths might not be well blazed or wide and will only be apparent on the ground by trampled or darkened earth or grass, and in spring may be wet and muddy, but unlikely for the most part to be flooded (that said a check locally if it has rained heavily recently and you are following the river wouldn’t hurt). I would advocate the wearing of hiking boots not shoes and especially not ‘sneakers’ even those designed for trail running. If conditions prove wet and muddy, consider a pair of knee height ‘gaiters’ available from most U.K. hiking/walking stores and not that expensive, but a godsend if inclement underfoot! I pack mine for most walks, even if I don’t need to ultimately wear them.
I’ve never had a “get off my land” encounter in many years of hiking in the U.K. and doubt you will either. Nor have I been shot at, ever, although my wife was almost shot at a couple of days ago crossing the local grouse moor. The shooters had been radioed to hold their fire while my wife and her friend passed through, but some birds were disturbed and the overexcited/trigger happy ‘unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible’ opened fire, a little too close for comfort, but no harm done fortunately. Where you are going this won’t be a problem - no grouse moors, wrong time of year. Any shooting you might encounter will be farmers shooting rabbits most likely.
Have a great trip. Let us know how you got on!
Thanks to all for the insightful replies, particularly Nigel's detailed information. I looked up both stories referenced. What a tragedy for Mr. Clark and his family. Apparently there has been a spate of cow tramplings in Yorkshire. I guess the James Herriot stories need updating. I'll be traveling canine-free, but knowing this will make me wary about crossing a field at the same time as dog walkers.
As for Madonna, I'll just say that Michiganders (which she was before she became an international pop icon) can be even more pugnacious about their guns and their perceived rights than Kentuckians. I'll be sure to give the Material Girl and all mad cows a wide berth.