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]

Monday, 21 April 2008

Day 7 - St Columb Major to St Mabyn

21 April
Distance: 16.5 miles
Number of killer dogs: 1
Number of camels: 0

We were offered a lift this morning. A chap with a very strange conveyance stopped us to make the offer. In chatting it turned out that his name was Noah and that he was only able to offer us a lift because we were a twosome. I believe that his exact words were 'Backpackers come in two by two, between the killer dogs and the cows going moo'.

Given our mission, we declined the lift and stayed out in the rain: the rain that started before we crawled out of our sleeping bags and showed no sign of letting up at any point during the walk.

Unfortunately it seems that the killer dogs also declined Noah's kind offer. Instead they made for a farm on our route where they lay in wait to chase us up the lane, snarling and snapping with teeth bared.

Quiet rainy lanes (which, when I glanced out of my world of Underhood afforded good but curtailed views of the rolling green countryside) led us to the River Camel and, more to our interest, the Camel Trail. It's a 17 mile long trail that takes the route of a disused railway, and follows the River Camel.

We were only on the trail for a couple of miles, if that, but the grit surface gave a pleasant change from tarmac and the freedom from needing to listen out for cars allowed us to appreciate the bird song in the splendid natural woodland.

Having not stopped all morning (as much as we longed for a convenient bus shelter or similar to appear, none did) we were storming towards our destination for the day when I noticed a 'PH' on the map - exactly on our route. I've not had an alcoholic beverage in a week now. A pint of beer and a real fire was calling my name.

All looked like it was going to rats when there was no evidence of the footpath we needed to get us to the pub and no obvious way to even follow its line.

There was an alternative route. It did involve significant trespass and a little bit of clambering, not to mention an extra half a mile, but it took us back to the road on which the pub lay.

And so I sit here at 1pm in the Slades House Country Inn, Sladesbridge (whose decor and music collection was last updated in about 1972), with a pint at my side and with just 5km or so left to walk this afternoon (provided that the campsite exists and will allow us to stay).

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