This follows the escarpment of the Cotswold hills for most of its 164km (102-mile) length.
Appropriately, the trail ends in Bath, where you can enjoy a soothing, long, hot soak.
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Rating A surprising 7, because the route encounters Cooper’s Hill, the site of the annual Cheese-rolling Championships, used because of its one-in-one gradient (45° angle).
NORTH DOWNS WAY
Runs 246km (153 miles) from Farnham to Dover. Such is its proximity to civilisation that hikers are less than 90 minutes from a Pret A Manger at any point en route.
Rating A 4, on the grounds that you can’t really rate it as a gruelling ‘off the beaten track’ hike. SOUTH DOWNS WAY
An opportunity to share 160 km (100 miles) with hordes of cyclists and horse riders. If your legs are playing up, the chances of cadging a lift are good on this route – if you don’t mind riding side-saddle or sitting on the crossbar. The coastal towns of Worthing, Brighton and Eastbourne are all within tantalising sight of the route, and many hikers fall victim to the temptation to visit them for a spot of R&R. Those who do rarely make it back to the top to continue down the way.
Rating A 6, but only if you stay on high ground and don’t divert to the seaside.
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