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]

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Day 16 - Bawdrip to Cheddar

30 April
Distance: 15 miles
Number of cute puppies encountered:1

It was a disturbed night's sleep at Fairways Touring Park. The rain had let up (not that rain would have disturbed us) but other things were conspiring against a restful night.

The first disturbance was when I was awoken by the sound of a tractor coming straight at us. With my mind addled from the sudden transition from asleep to vaguely-aware I was convinced for a moment that we were wild camping in the corner of a farmer's field and that he was about to mow us and the tent down.

Realising that we were actually on a campsite I relaxed a little and put the noise down to nocturnal tractor movements on a nearby lane.

When I awoke an hour or so later and having gone through the nightly ritual of getting dressed and popping over to the facilities the noise was explained. For reasons unknown the campsite had chosen the middle of the night to do ground works. The tractor that I had heard had actually been a digger. That digger proceeded to dig for the next few hours.

I assume that the digging had something to do with the electric supply as it was a dark experience in the ladies.

It didn't take much shivering in the dark for me to look up and notice that the sky had cleared and the temperature had dropped, so back in my sleeping bag I did the hood up tight around me. And then came the next disturbance; the next time a heavy vehicle woke me I found that I was lost within my sleeping bag. I must have twisted round in it and could I find the opening? Frantically I flailed around thinking that I was going to have to wake Husband to help me, when finally I located the opening and returned myself to the proper position.

The earthworks finally came to an end at about 4.30, but still we were not to be undisturbed. It seemed that we had only just settled when the (unwelcome) alarm started trilling.

The morning saw us return to the apparently closed cycle route and from there a few lanes and some very wet grassy fields, not to mention quite a few electric fence obstacles and locked gates, saw us head across the levels.

Our biggest navigational head-scratching moment happened in admidst all of the drainage ditches. It was one of those moments when what the compass said didn't seem to tally with what we could see. It took a while to work out that we were walking along the wrong drain and that the only thing we could do was walk back to the last bridge (admittedly only a couple of hundred yards) and put ourselves right.

More navigational challenges led us to the village of Blackford where the Sexey's Arms was to be found, which served us a good lunch which set us up for the afternoon. It also was where we met a local by the name of Mike, a Lincoln City FC fan, who added £10 to our fundraising.

Dragging ourselves out of the pub and into a passing shower, the afternoon did not start well. A failure to make a turning shortly after the pub caused a bit of a tour around the edges of the village before we got ourselves back in the right direction.

Today we were following the route suggested by the Cicerone End-to-End Trail book and it was clear that these paths are not well trodden. It was also clear early on that using 1:25k OS maps would have been much easier than following the sketch maps from the book.

We'd just negotiated a particularly tricky double stile (stile is perhaps a generous word here) that involved a bit of limbo dancing on the first part and clambering on the second, when ahead of us in the field we saw a chap with a big backpack.

Given our location it seemed pretty likely that this was another LEJOGer, and so he turned out to be. His name is Conrad, he's 68 (and had a knee op just at the end of last year!) and it appears that he left Land's End on the same day as us but whereas we headed south on the coast path he had headed north along it.

As nice as it was to have someone to walk with for the afternoon we did all lose our concentration somewhat with the chatting and merrily continued following the route we had plotted, even though we had decided to vary it. Half a km out of our way we went before we realised and turned back, making a complete meal of the navigation the whole time.

Finally we put ourselves firmly on the revised route and arrived at Cheddar Bridge campsite at a reasonable hour of afternoon. Pitching was followed by the obligatory gear chat with Conrad over a cup of tea, which is always an enjoyable way to pass the time of day.

Conrad will get ahead of us tomorrow as we have an easy day, but our routes coincide for a while yet (up Offa's Dyke so it's emminently possible that we will meet again.

So, that's two other LEJOGers we've met this week. I wonder how many people there are in total walking this walk right now?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Gayle and Mick,
    congrats on being blog of the month for Countryfile podcast and website.

    Also I think it is a ashame that there is not some sort of official LEJOG website for people to register that they are doing a LEJOG on.