Day 100 – Newport to Cardiff 22 Dec 2017

Day 100 – Newport to Cardiff 22 Dec 2017

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 yesteIMG_3014rday 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.IMG_3022

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.IMG_3029

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.

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Day 97 – Weston-in-Sea to Portishead 31 October 2017

Day 97 – Weston-in-Sea to Portishead 31 October 2017

Today has been a very mixed day, and I am glad to be on the train home.

It started very well. I had a lift down to the seafront at Weston and, after attempting to leap out of the car in a bus stop and being sharply beeped by a bus, got onto the beach just about where we left last night. The morning was fine again – there was rain about 6am but it had gone off, and although it was not so warm or bright as yesterday, it was still very good. Slightly windier perhaps.IMG_2781

I had a lovely walk along the firm packed sand at Weston, then rounded the headland to the north, past the old burnt out pier at Birnbeck. Alongside what is known as the Toll road (despite tolls having IMG_2786disappeared some 150 years ago, there is a track through a rather pleasant stand of trees. After a mile or so, it drops down onto the beach at Sandy Bay. Another walk along the sands for a good couple of miles and I was eating up the planned 18 miles.

At the north end of sandy bay is a National Trust headland. I climbed up and could see across to Portishead. A brief discussion with a man in a van who told me I was about trespass, led me back to the right path, just beside the river Yeo. According to the map, you can’t cross the Yeo for miles, but I had been informed that a new crossing had been made for walkers and cyclists, so I had my eyes peeled, but could see nothing. I continued along a lane until I reached a point where a bridle way was supposed to cross the fields to Wick St Lawrence. The sign pointed across a field, next to a lane which read ‘private’. I must say the signage in Somerset is terrible. I haven’t seen a coast path sign since south of Weston. The gate onto the bridleway was tied shut. Undaunted, I hopped over, and walked through a field. Only when I reached the end could I see there was no way out, and that the bridleway must be along the lane. I returned and managed to open the gate this time.

Along the lane and into a field which had a helpful notice written on a plastic picnic plate ‘bull in field’. IMG_2812This was hard to believe. Even the most cantankerous farmer wouldn’t keep a bull on a bridleway. I looked around and the field appeared to contain only sheep. Some very poor signposting later, I emerged onto a track. This decanted directly into a farm yard, with a padlocked gate at one end and more scrap than Steptoe and Son’s yard. I could see another track, so, thinking that must be the exit I followed it through piles of rusting junk. Another locked gate. Up and over.

Finally, a third gate, which could be opened, and I emerged to see three startled people in the lane. I was prepared to give them a piece of my mind about the locked gates, had they challenged me, but they confined themselves to a surprised hello.

I kept walking along the lane to Wick St Lawrence, hoping al the time to see a sign for the river crossing, but nothing. Eventually, I decided to google it. Fortunately, I had signal. All I could find was articles about delays to its construction. I found an article from another coast walker describing her long, tortuous and, ultimately unsuccessful journey to find it. I concluded that I might as well just follow the road, over the M5 to Hewish – the only place where a crossing is visible on the map.

Unfortunately, this was so far that I knew I could not make my rendezvous with Jane at Portishead for. Lift to the station. Disgusted with the whole thing, I left a message asking if she could rescue me early. She was tied up for an hour, but could come then, she said. I agreed to meet in Kingston Seymour. This meant continuing east and then meeting the A road, before turning back north and slightly west to cross the river. As I walked along the S road, I saw a bus pass by and thought that might be a better option. I found a stop and saw that I had 25 mins to wait for a bus to  Clevedon, back on the coast. I left a message for Jane to revert to plan A and waited for it. It was not especially late, and I arrived in Clevedon town centre about 1.45. I had got cold waiting, so had a quick but excellent coffee and friand.

There was a good 15 mins walk to get to the seafront, but I picked up the path thee that goes all the way to Portishead along the cliff edge. I was IMG_2831glad I had not given up. The walk was pleasant and easy, with the sound of the sea in my ears.  I made excellent time, and was quite surprised when I came to the end of the path considerably earlier than expected. As usual, there were no way markers. I walked up the road, and found myself in one of those housing estates that are like a maze. I asked the way to the main road.  The man looked surprised when I mentioned my destination, but directed me. When I got to the junction, it looked nothing like the map – no wonder I was surprised at my speed. I had not come nearly as far as I thought. I had at least 2 miles to do on the road. Thoroughly annoyed by now, I snagged another bus, and got to the meeting point with just enough time to buy food for the train.

After a long wait at Bristol Parkway, I am now on train, but feeling rather grim. I think the sandwich I ate has disagreed with me. Looking forward to my own bed. My knees are hurting. And so are my ears. A woman on the train is yakking without drawing breath. Not a silent second from Bristol to Didcot so far.

16 miles of a below-average ‘cotton’ day.