Today is my hundredth day of walking. I have done 1,587 miles – around 24% of the whole (assuming a distance of 6,500 miles). My average day is 15.9 miles. I have walked in eighteen counties (including Greater London) and on twelve different official long distance routes.
All very pleasing: just a shame today’s walk was not particularly special. I took the train back to Newport, then spent some time getting lost in the town’s backstreets as I worked my way back to the path. The Cornish pasty I ate yesterday didn’t agree with me, so I had to make numerous diversions to find loos.
The weather was not cheerful. A heavy fog all day meant that visibility was never more than a hundred yards, and there was a fair bit of road-walking with quantities of lorries and vans thundering along. Route finding was also hit and miss – on one occasion, I reached a farmhouse at the end of a long, muddy track, expecting to follow a path back onto the sea wall, but seeing no sign of it. The owner was at home and informed me that the path had been allowed to grow over and was now impassable. I had to make a long detour round.
Once I reached the sea wall again, it was straightforward, if uninspiring because of the lack of views. Eventually, I reached the river Rhymni, and walked up the east bank, then back onto a busy road, before bearing off onto a track running parallel. The track was ugly – litter everywhere, old bits of metal, shopping trolleys, plastic containers and so forth. There were also lots of small ponies tethered. I had been surprised all day at the number of horses and ponies I had seen – more than anywhere else on the walk so far.
In the distance, I could see a number of caravans, and this, together with the ponies, led me to wonder if I were approaching a Traveller site. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a young lad of about fourteen appeared, with a dog on a lead.
‘You’re on private property,’ he announced.
‘No, I’m not. This is the Coast Path’.
‘It’s not. It’s private. It’s my dad’s land.’
‘No, the map shows clearly that it is the coast path’.
‘My dad just bought it last week.’
I shrugged my shoulders and carried on.
‘I’m going to tell my dad.’
I felt a bit nervous. The path wasn’t getting any more attractive – there was evidence of burnt out vans and other debris around. The lad himself didn’t look dangerous, but who knew what a father or elder brother might be like?
I carried on. He turned back and asked, in a more conciliatory tone, what I was doing.
I explained that I was walking up to Cardiff, and tried to be friendly, admiring his dog, and stroking her. He was a nice enough boy, in fact.
The path came to a point where you could either drop onto the road, or turn left alongside the caravans. I didn’t like either option much, but the road was very busy, with no pavement, and in the fog I didn’t like to chance it. The boy indicated that the path went left, and, having assured me that I would never make the five o’clock train, dropped back as I hurried on.
I have seldom been nervous on the walk (other than cow incidents) but I did not much like going behind the caravans and up onto a very dirty, overgrown outcrop of land where I could hear major works of some sort but, with the fog, could see almost nothing. The path at this point suddenly became very poorly signposted, and I had to guess amongst several tracks. I scurried on, over debris and eventually made it back onto the main road, where it was wide enough to have a footpath.
A long and tedious road-bash took me into Cardiff, where I missed a train by one minute. Great Western surpassed themselves today. The next train was cancelled, and I had to take another train to Newport and change there.
I can’t decide whether to walk tomorrow – I am going to family near Glossop for Christmas, and if it is foggy would prefer to drive up early.
Definitely a below average day, so ‘cotton’. 16.2 miles.