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 94 Shurton to Bridgwater 28 Oct 2017

Day 94 Shurton to Bridgwater 28 Oct 2017

It was getting light as I left this morning. With no decent breakfast to be had at the place I was staying, I had arranged a slightly earlierIMG_2577 meeting with my friend Vicki and her dog, Bracken, at Combwich, to make up for it at lunch. To get back onto the coast, I had to go cross country. It was deeply uninspiring. Quite a long stretch was thought the fields of one of those farmers who clearly don’t want walkers on their land, but won’t actually break the law by closing paths: signs obscured with carefully untrimmed brambles; broken stiles and gates are tied shut with binder twine with tight knots. This resulted in a few tedious backtracks as I got stranded on the wrong side of the dykes that separate the fields.

IMG_2575The weather was very different from yesterday. A cold wind, and overcast. I reached the path around 8.45 and followed it along tracks and ridges to Steart point. The last 1.5 miles out to the point is very dull indeed. The high rushes on both sides made it impossible to sea the sea, and the path was made of large shingle – clearly not designed by any one who actually does long distance walking. 5 minutes in shingle n the beach is ok, but over a longer stretch it is painful and slow.

Hence, wherever there is an alternative, people have come off the main tack. At Steeart there was little to see except more reeds. I then turned inland. Strictly, although I was on the England Coast Path, I was walking beside the river Parrett.  The Steart Wildlife Conservation Trust has done a fine job of recreating salt marsh and mudflats. They breached the sea wall in 2014 and already the place is teeming (or teaming as they have on their signs!) with life. However, being the end of October, and chilly, there was little enough of it visible.IMG_2618

About half an hour north of Combwich, I met Vicki and the dog. He was having a whale of a time  even though he had to remain on the lead for much of the way. We walked back to the village for lunch, then carried on along the river path. It was pleasant, but uneventful. My companions turned back around half past two, the bright sunshine we had enjoyed for an hour after lunch having disappeared.IMG_2629

I carried on – two cow-filled fields were negotiated, but although they looked at me, and in one I took a stout post from the floor in case of incidents, nothing excited them, so they let me be. There was then a detour along the road for a mile or so, before turning back onto the river path which carries on into Bridgwater.

The town has a very interesting maritime history. It was a port from Roman times, and there were once big docks here. In the seventeenth century, it was the scene of several Civil War incidents, and a failed attempt to shoot Cromwell by Lady Wyndham, wife of the royalist colonel holding the town. She hit his aide instead.  Thirty or so years later, James, Duke of Monmouth, illegitimate son of Charles II, was proclaimed king in the town. The failure of his claim led to the battle of Sedgemoor and the Bloody Assizes.

The loss of the railway station under the Beeching cuts reduced the use of the docks, and further damage was done by the collapse of the canal wall in 2011. The town is now rather faded.

Got to hotel to find a young woman doing some very complicated organisation with the receptionist over several rooms. She mentioned doing a show later.  I pricked up my ears – a bit of stand up might be just the thing, but then she said it was burlesque. And thought maybe I might not like it. I replied that I did not think I was her target audience.  ‘Not at all’, she said, ‘our oldest audience member is 90!’ Hmmmm.

18 miles on the nose.  Today was a silver day – thanks to the company. Day rankings