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, 12 March 2015

WCP: St Brides Wentlooge to Lavernock

Thursday 12 March (0830-1345)

Distance: 16.7 miles

Weather: Misty, but dry save for about 10 spots of rain

That was a day that did not go as well as I would have liked. A day that caused me to declare that ‘I hate Cardiff’. A day that caused me to spend a good ten minutes whinging as soon as I met up with Mick in Penarth.

The first five miles were all good (even if I did have to negotiate my way around some path-blocking, big-horned, hairy coos), with lovely salt flats and lots of bird life. Then I got to a place where my map told me I needed to turn inland, but the waymarks on the ground were contradictory and I decided to follow a marker.

By the time I concluded that I was most definitely not on the official route anymore, I was loathed to turn back, so praying that I could get out at the other end I ploughed on over less-than-ideal terrain. With three sides of a square walked, I rounded a bend to see very tall, barbed wire topped gates ahead of me. Noooooo! I really didn’t want to backtrack for more than a mile over salt-marsh!

I didn’t backtrack. I didn’t scale the tall gates, or the adjoining fence. Much mud was involved. But, I did get back on track, and I had been far truer to the coast than the official route at this point.

Then I got to this bit of the path:


I’d already passed one bit which was completely blocked by fly-tipping, before I got to this patch of wasteland, which is adjacent to a permanent gypsy site. The path then took me behind that site (being chased by a goose part of the way), where I could have taken many photos of the mess, but I settled for this one:


Ploughing on a little further (incredulous when I passed way marks which confirmed that I wasn’t reading my map wrong; why did the planners pick this as a suitable route?), I saw someone and a dog ahead of me and suddenly felt convinced that person was a mad axe murderer and the dog a killer one. So, I back-tracked, made my way across more wasteland, waited for what felt like a week and a half for a gap in traffic to cross a road and took an alternative route. An industrial estate took me to a housing estate, of the sort where many gardens were adorned with various types of household waste. It certainly wasn’t the best introduction to Cardiff.

Back on the proper route things didn’t get better when, at Atlantic Wharf, I had to walk past two drug-smoking hoodies who looked me up and down in such a way as to cause my unease to rush back. Again, I made for the road and followed it to Cardiff Bay.

At the Bay Cardiff started to redeem itself, although either a lack of waymarks or a lack of concentration on my part saw me wander off towards the wrong side of the bay. I wouldn’t have taken this photo from this location if I’d been heading the right way:


I’m pleased to say that from there nothing more went awry (apart from the discovery, at the end of my day, that my Fitbit battery had expired 5 miles into the day, and that I had forgotten to restart the Garmin Gadget after pausing for elevenses), and just after the Cardiff Bay Barrage I saw a familiar man walking towards me. He duly put up with me venting my whinges about the day, before we proceeded (up, down and along) through Penarth, which gave excellent opportunities to oggle some sizeable, sea-facing houses.

I confess that I was tempted to continue on for a few more miles, as I had finished my day so early, but the legs are reminding me that they’ve become unaccustomed to this level of walking, so I’m being kind to them with an afternoon off.

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