Saturday, 3 September 2016
Cotswold Trip -Coopers Hill Brockworth
Wandering away from the hotel I spotted a public footpath sign indicating 'Coopers Hill' 3/4 of a mile. It immediately rang a bell with me as being the home of the 'Cheese Rolling' contest. I knew that I would have to get to the top before the trip was done !
Back at the hotel car park I could see in the distance exactly where 'Coopers Hill' was.It was as though a giant knife had been taken to the Cotswold Hills to carve a swathe among the trees.
I had expected a guick hike to the top via a few 'nursery slopes'. Unfortunately this was not the case. I did climb gradually through a couple of fields before reaching a crossing path, part of The Cotswold Way. On this occasion I chose the wrong path. I spent well over an hour and a half going backwards and forwards in thick woodland, the cover of trees not letting me see any way ahead. I was on the point of admitting defeat of finding the summit. Thankfully 2 ladies on horseback appeared out of the trees and confirmed that with a little bit of backtracking I was literally 2 minutes from my destination. With energy levels renewed I set off again and arrived at the top of 'Coopers Hill'. All the effort was completely worth it as the views were awesome. In the far distance you can see the outline of the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire. The only other person on the hill told me that I was over 800 ft above sea level. Looking down was quite daunting and the photos don't really convey the sheer height and dramatic sharp drop. As mentioned Cooper's Hill is a local landmark within the parish of Brockworth, and is famed in Britain and beyond for it's annual cheese rolling contest on 29th May.
A large round 'Double Gloucester' cheese is rolled down the steep slope of the hill and chased by a group of "runners", who in fact spend most of their brief descent to the bottom of the hill falling and tumbling. Injuries are commonplace but doesn't seem to be a deterrent to the many who take part. Two hundred years ago this was part of a larger mid-summer festival with other activities and competitions, but the event is now confined to the cheese-rolling. It is usually said to have originated as a pagan festival celebrating the arrival of Summer,
fertility, or both.
I'm glad to say the journey back was much easier once I realised that there was a footpath leading right down the side connecting to the fields I had originally journeyed through. Much easier and back to the hotel for a well earned cold Guinness !!