When I looked at the weather forecast last week, it suggested heavy rain for today, but it could not have been more wrong. It has been a glorious day – bright, sunny, warm and not a breath of wind.
I left my hotel (excellent dinner, dreadful service) to meet Jane at the Pavilion on the waterfront at 9.30. We had a dismal breakfast there – grease on toast – but that was the lowest point of the day.
The tide was far out and we walked across the firm, dark gold sands all the way to Brean Down. I knew that to cross the river Ax we would have to go a long way inland and we debated not climbing the headland because we would have to retrace our steps for a couple of miles, but the weather was so good, we were making such good time and the views promised to be so spectacular, that we decided to climb the steep staircase up to the long hogs back.
It was certainly worth it. The views were superb. All the way back to West Quantoxhead, hazy in the distance, and the long flat expanse of Brean sands to the south, then the delightful villas of Weston to the north. The Down is the last outcrop of the Mendip Hills which we could see rolling away east. We descended and had a quick cream tea in the NT café at the bottom.
We walked back along the beach, planning to emerge onto the road towards Wick Farm where the path joins the road to cross the river. We undershot a bit and had to walk along the lane, which was astonishingly busy. Since my map was printed, the Sustrans route has been built, saving us from a long road bash as it is a firm track, a few yards away from the road. I was delighted to discover that the previously impassable crossing at the old sluice has now been modified to carry the path across the Ax. We strolled along, enjoying the sunshine, talking to the various dog walkers, and eventually emerged at the village of Uphill, with its ruined, church high above the road and the remains of quarrying underneath exposing the limestone rock, almost vertical, but dotted with Welsh (according to the sign) sheep, well adapted to steep rocky hillsides.
Then it was back to the beach and a long walk up to the middle of Weston-super-Mare, admiring the Holm islands (Steep and Flat) and Brean Down behind us.
Less pleasurable was trying to find my aunt’s house where I am staying, when the satnav refused to recognise the street name, although it has been there long before Google was ever born or thought of. After some fraught backwards and forwards along the same lane and a few dead ends, we made it.
14.4 miles. Legs are getting very achey – disappointing as only day 5.
All in all, a golden day.