The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Day 15 - Bathpool, Taunton to Bawdrip

29 April
Distance: about 15 miles

The tiredness of last night seeped into this morning. The alarm went off at the usual time of six am, but rather than leaping out of my sleeping bag I turned over and slept for another hour - no mean feat with the racket being made by the peacocks and cockerels.

The unplanned lie-in meant it was knocking on for 9am by the time we wandered away from the campsite and back down to the Taunton and Bridgwater Canal.

Having walked quite a considerable part of its length over the last two days I've had to conclude that it's not a well frequented waterway. I'm used to the Trent & Mersey canal where even on a drizzly Tuesday morning there will be boats on the move and even more life in those moored. On the Taunton & Bridgwater I could count the number of moored craft on one hand and we saw none moving.

The tow-path was almost as quiet. We had miles at a time to ourselves, so it was quite a surprise an hour through the morning to hear a bicycle bell behind us.

The chap on the bicycle, Mike, slowed down to talk to us and ask what we were doing before he carried on his way, but he'd not got more than 50 yards away from us before he stopped and turned. As we caught him up he gave us £10 for Macmillan. So, a big thank you to Mike; not only has Macmillan benefitted but it put a smile on our faces too.

Whilst people were absent, there were birds and ducks aplenty. I've lost count of the number of herons we've seen over the last few days and there are lots of swans sitting atop their impressive piles of nests. We even saw a deer today, in the rather unlikely location of an open wheat field; it was standing right on the opposite edge of the canal. We stared at each other for a while until it bounded off across the wheat and finally went to ground.

Our attention was then drawn by the Somerset Space Walk which features along this canal. It's on a scale of 1:530million and gives information about each planet as you pass its relative position in the solar system. Each planet is on a milestone (a kilometre stone, really) giving the distance to Bridgwater and from Somerset, although we suspected that some of them were slightly less than accurate.

With the morning's showers turning to more persistent rain, we walked straight past the only pub we saw all day, and soon after we took a bit of a flyer and left the canal.

My plotted route would have seen us go into Bridgwater and back out again for no reason other than an apparent lack of bridges over the River Parrett. However, when I scrutinised the map this morning it looked to me, by the presence of a cycle route, that there may be a way across at the point where the railway crosses. I deemed it worth the diversion to go and have a look and worthwhile it turned out to be. There was indeed a walkway on the side of the rail bridge and it saved us a mile of walking up the river to walk back down again. Given the pain in my left foot which had appeared about five miles into the day, omitting an unnecessary mile was a happy event.

Oh, but the rain. It came down and showed no sign of letting up. A quick change of socks to my Sealskinz was made before we started tackling the long, wet grass of the fields that would lead us to Bawdrip.

A farmer wielding a shot gun was the only sign of life we encountered over the last couple of miles (got us a bit worried when soon after we passed him we heard shots) and soon we were heading towards the village.

All we then had to do was to pick up a cycle route that would lead us directly to our campsite. Finding the cycle route was easy enough. The problem came about 100yds later when we got to the tall locked gate. The previous pedestrian gate had also been closed off by the addition of tall palings.

Husband was all for taking an alternative route, but scrutinising the map I was certain that we were in the right place and that the cycle route lay on a RoW. Over the gate I climbed, Husband following my lead and within half a mile of good path we were tackling a very nasty main road to cover the last 100 yards of the day.

We arrived at the campsite in the still-lashing (I had used the phrase 'pissing' there, but Husband told me that was an inappropriate word to use on my blog!) rain but were cheered by the chatty owner who kindly donated all of our pitching fee to Macmillan.

We're now huddled in the tent, with everything wet and hoping, with all things crossed, that the weather is going to perk up tomorrow (oh, and that my foot recovers).


  1. You are both doing grand. Hang in there. There are lots of folk following your blog.Dawn.

  2. You seem to be making good progress, on a slightly more 'off-road route than Daryl, who reached Lands End a couple of days ago. I now think it was quite an achievement to coax him away from roads for a whole day!
    May try to track you down after the TGOC.
    Have fun.