Each day, we had to walk more than the official distance because food and lodging were rarely on the trail. We added more miles by getting lost. The path is fairly well marked, but signs would vanish and we'd find ourselves wandering in a field bordered by barbed wire. This usually happened late in the day in a driving rain. By midweek, I felt like I had a broken foot. We took a rest day, traveling to the next stop by bus. I foolishly resumed the hike the following morning, refusing to believe that what I thought was a gentle stroll in the country had so thoroughly whipped me.
By the time we reached Bath, a city known for its Roman baths and Georgian architecture, I was limping, and I knew I should have saddled up one of those horses instead of scaring them off with my harmonica. I touched Bath Abbey, the end of the Cotswold Way, and hobbled off to bed, vowing to never again underestimate the hills of England.
NEXT WEEK: The high cost of travel in Britain and Ireland.
Did you miss a Wander Year installment? The entire series since it began in January can be found on The Times' Web site at http://www.latimes.com/travel/wander.