Attention: You are using an outdated browser, device or you do not have the latest version of JavaScript downloaded and so this website may not work as expected. Please download the latest software or switch device to avoid further issues.

News > Member Stories > Kissing His Way Along the Cotswolds

Kissing His Way Along the Cotswolds

Tommy Lees, Christ Church 2012-22 (Modern Pentathlon, Swimming, Athletics, Fencing), takes on the unique Cotswolds kissing gate challenge…
22 Jun 2023
Member Stories
Tommy Lees completed the Cotswolds Kissing Gate Challenge
Tommy Lees completed the Cotswolds Kissing Gate Challenge

Having recently left the dreaming spires for a life in the City, I have been looking to exercise the competitive muscles that were shaped at Oxford and celebrated at Vincent's Club. I have been spending many hours in the Cotswolds with my partner, Rosie and decided that the Cotswold Way, a 102 mile National Trail that starts at the Village Hall in Chipping Campden and ends at Bath Abbey would be a worthy challenge.

Not wanting to make the challenge too easy I decided I would organise my own attempt, rather than waiting until the race in September. I did, however, check the historical times and found that 27:30 would be a worthy goal, being the median time for the races along the Cotswold Way since 2018. So 50% of runners that completed the race were faster than 27:30 and 50% slower.

I set off at 18:00 on Saturday evening with fellow Vincent's Member Hugo Fleming (Modern Pentathlon, Athletics, 2013-2017) from Chipping Campden. We trotted through the beautiful evening, and Hugo put me way ahead of pace. Ahead of the fastest time I had considered possible, 22:30, which some bloke I met while jogging on the trail had claimed he had done back in 2017! 

Throughout the attempt I was supported by my partner and a gaggle of pals, 11 of whom ran with me, who kept me watered and fed through the night and into Sunday. A special group of three school friends did the night shift keeping me watered and upright from 22:30-05:30. The heat was fierce and my brother pulled me through a difficult leg getting me to Cold Ashton. 

From there I was joined by the Olympic Gold Medalist, Kate French, who kindly jogged slowly alongside me to the Abbey where I was greeted by friends, family, and a celebratory bottle of champagne which ended up being sprayed on the lucky crowds of visitors to Somerset's Crown Jewel. I completed the Cotswold Way in a time of 22 hours 19 minutes, which was much faster than I had thought and would have put me top 5 in the races that have been running since 2013.

One side-mission was to count the kissing gates along the trail. It turns out that there are 131 operational kissing gates along the way. I was kissed at every single one. The highest density of kissing gates was between Hawkesbury Upton and Tomarton, where there were 19. I will be returning to that section with my partner, Rosie.

This challenge formed part of my personal goals that I set myself this year. Other goals included delivering a lamb, which I achieved in March, visiting the Isle of Skye and raising £10,000 for Helen and Douglas House, the Children's Hospice in Oxford. Helen & Douglas House is a local charity that helps local families cope with the challenges of looking after a terminally ill baby or child who will die prematurely. They are a home from home for the patients and their families, and provide round-the-clock care in a warm, loving environment. If you can, please consider supporting them here:


Vive les Vincent's,


Media gallery

To view this News Article

Similar Stories

Springbok trophy at Vincent's Club

We are very appreciative to Professor Jeremy Young, formerly of St Peter's College, for th More...

The University's winning team

Oxford Rugby Union Blue, Julian Malins, gives us a fascinating insight into Oxford's famou More...

Baby Jack Cook, son of Ollie Cook and his fiancée Nikki

Congratulations and our very best wishes to Vincent's Rowing World Champion Ollie Cook and More...

Roberto, who is also a Vincents Awardee this year in support of his boxing programme, was More...

The Club congratulates Aly Rowell (née Vance) for her Honorary Membership. More...

Sir Rod Eddington with Club Resident Members

Having once run the world's favourite airline, we were very pleased to welcome back Sir Ro More...

Kate Richardson-Walsh (centre) with Matt and Sofia

Members heard an inspiring talk given by GB Hockey Olympic Gold Medal Captain, Kate Richar More...

Vincent's Award Winner, Fred Newbold, provides a report of his recent international experi More...


1A King Edward Street



United Kingdom


Monday - Saturday

11:30 - 14:30, 18:30 - 23:00



This website is powered by