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]

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Day 11 - Stoke Bruerne to Braunston

Thurs 1 April
Distance: 20.5 miles (Tot. 202.5)

It was after a fantastic breakfast that we left Dove Cottage this morning. Looking out of the window of our nice warm room I had been fooled, by the startling blue sky, into thinking it was going to be warmer out. Within moments of stepping out I realised that I had been mistaken. We were to spend another day beside a choppy canal, walking into a biting wind. That prospect was however cheered by the fact that in contrast to yesterday's greyness, this was a lovely day.

As days following canals go, this was to be a lumpy one. Not long after setting off Blisworth tunnel was met and as much as we would have liked to have gone through, we didn't fancy a 1.75 mile swim, so over the top we went.

All was then uneventful as we walked along, in close proximity to the train line, which was busy with traffic. The canal was reasonably busy too - all part of the great getaway for Easter?

Although early to stop for lunch in terms of mileage, when we found ourselves outside of a pub in Weedon Beck a bee-line was made for the warmth inside, to top up the energy levels (mine having been flagging a little this morning for no explicable reason).

The day had still been reasonably nice as we went inside, but by the time we came to leave it was grey, wet and miserable. We only made it ten paces before we decided that the rain wasn't going to pass and that waterproofs would be required.

It was a good call. Oh, that rain came down, driven by a head wind. All I saw for the next half an hour was the patch of grass in front of my feet as I kept my head down.

Even with heads down, we couldn't help but notice when we came alonsgside the M1. Up went the volume on the audio books (which were helping us along this afternoon) and then up went the outside noise as the canal became sandwiched between the motorway and the mainline. All those people in such a tearing hurry, compared to our sedate 3 miles an hour.

The rain did stop for a while, but had just started again when, bypassing the second tunnel of the day, we came to a 'Footpath Closed' sign. Not something you ever want to see, moreover 2 miles from the end of a 20 mile day.

Of course, we ignored the sign and found no impediment until about 100 yards from where we should have rejoined the tow-path. There we found great barriers blocking the way and heavy plant moving around in a way that suggested that trying to sneak through would be folly.

Into fields we went, to trespass our way around, which looked like it was going to be successful until we got to the obvious place to cross a fence, where a clear sign had been erected telling us that the land was private and we were to go no further.

Not wanting to trespass where such a clear sign had been erected to stop people like us from cutting through back to the canal, down the field we went to find an alternative route.

What did we find in the bottom corner of the field (an extraordinarily muddy field), but another sign, this time adding the information that dogs were running free and to cross the fence was to put ourselves in danger of a savage mauling (okay, I may have added the last bit, but it did warn of dogs running free).

There was no way I was backtracking a mile to find an alternative route, so judging that the killer dog warning was false, and with the towpath only about 20 yards away from us, we hurried though the deep mud, figuring that if you're going to trespass then it's best to minimise the duration.

Slithering down a bank, back onto the towpath we tumbled, only to find that we were still a few yards short of the closure hoarding at this end. And we were being watched closely by the British Waterways chaps working just up from where we had landed. Without hesitation we approached the hoarding and swung ourselves around it (perilously overhanging the canal in the process).

Now within ten minutes of our B&B for the night (scant few campsites on the route around here, and given the weather I'm not sorry to be taking the soft option), we made haste in the rain, with heavy shoes caked in the mud through which we had just waded.

At the risk of sounding like we're on some sort of glorified pubcrawl, we're now ensconced in a pub for tea, and at the further risk of ending this abruptly, I need to post this now before my dying battery gives out (no signal at the B&B to plug in and post later).
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


  1. "At the risk of sounding like we're on some sort of glorified pubcrawl..."

    Hmmmm. It's just for the required calorie intake, I am sure.

    Word = "vinessno"! So stick to the beer.

  2. Rain,mad dogs,trespass,mud,barriers,no signal, oh the joy.

    Ah the pub, bless.