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]

Friday 2 May 2008

Day 18 - Congresbury to Easton-in-Gourdano

02 May
Distance: 14 miles
Number of killer dogs encountered: 1

Despite the relatively short day today we still bounded out of our sleeping bags at the 6am alarm this morning and were ready to go at 7.30.

We said goodbyes to Conrad, who had arrived at the campsite a few hours after us yesterday having taken the scenic route out of Cheddar, via the Gorge. He expects that we won't meet again, however, as our routes do coincide in quite a few places further north, I wouldn't be surprised if we do.

Out of the campsite and crossing the river Yeo we found ourselves back on the rly line, which seemed remarkably busy for the time of day. We had to leap out the way of bicycles as they snuk up behind us quite a few times.

Having negotiated Yatton, at the end of the Strawberry Line (as this excellent recreational rly bed is known), we were back across fields. Here the mud that has been building up quite remarkably on our trousers over the last 2.5 weeks was largely washed off by very wet grass and knee high crops.

A while later, back onto the levels, our route took us alongside a large drainage channel that runs between the Blind Yeo and the Land Yeo. Jolly nice walking it was too, with the sun beating down on us. I even emitted a very girly 'aah' when we spotted the first clutch of mallard ducklings so far. Do they breed late down here or early along the Trent & Mersey?

A path along the Land Yeo led us, in very close proximity to the M5 (didn't spot any Norberts, mind) to a road and to Golden Acres Fruit Farm, which was notable for its cafe with a huge selection of home made cakes. £8 seemed rather steep at first for two cups of tea and two slices of cake, but it turned out that the portions of cake were generous even for hungry walkers and the pot of tea proved to be endless.

We stayed there for far longer than we would have on any other day, but today we had a lot of hours to do not many miles.

Pulling ourselves back to our feet we continued through the fruit farm, through the gates bearing a 'no entry - staff only' signs, and into an orchard.

From the track we joined beyond the fruit farm the day just got better and better (well, except for my left foot, but we'll get to that). The views from Tickenham Hill down to the Severn Estuary were fantastic, made even better by the blue-skied clear day. They were views that we had from many vantage points as the day went on.

Various countryside paths across fields and through woodland were the theme for the rest of the day, and completely splendid they were too. Well used too; we passed quite a number of other walkers.

There were only two negatives in the day. One was the footbridge across the M5 (we've now crossed the M5 quite a few times; is it us meandering or the M5?). As a child I always hated crossing motorways on those 'tunnel' bridges at service stations. I don't mind those these days, but I do hate crossing via narrow pedestrian bridges. Today Husband mocked me as I hurried across refusing to look left or right, never mind stopping to look down at the traffic.

The other downside was my left foot. After two days of being relatively pain free it had fooled me that whatever ailed it was on the mend. Today the malady returned with a vengence. It's definitely muscular and it's on the underside, on the outside edge of the foot. In the hope that my more supportive boots will assist, I've called for them a day early. My cousin is going to make the longer journey a day earlier than intended to deliver our change of kit (boots and different tent) to us. A huge thank you goes out to Nic and Luke for that.

Back to the good stuff of today, though: as I sit and type this we're sitting in the Rudgleigh Inn in Easton-in-Gourdano. This was the one night on the entire route that I was really concerned about accommodation, what with Easton only having one B&B and with it being in close proximity to the M5 and with us heading into a Bank Holdiay weekend.

The accommodation worry has been solved for us. We're not staying at the only B&B in the village. No, we're waiting for a very kind man indeed. Adrian works for Macmillan and has offered us not only a bed for the night but also a meal and <sign of delight> a bath.

The bath will be particularly welcome tonight. There's an unpleasant smell in this corner of the pub and being the only people in this room we can't blame it on anyone else!


  1. Am really enjoying following your progress and being very envious. I know the Gordano valley well, having lived in Clevedon for a while whilst working in Bristol (we're talking a long time ago). You appear to have the joys of scenic Avonmouth to come tomorrow before crossing the Severn to Welsh Wales. Enjoy.

  2. Ello!

    As a regular cyclist and user of such trails when walkers are about, i would just like to defend on behalf of considerate cyclists everywhere (such as myself..)

    The truth is that a bell is simply too naff to use on a bike and shouting at the upcoming people is really a bit rude. So in the end you simply need to trust that the bike will go around you - I also tend to slow down just in case. I would say that jumping out of the way will only make an impact more likely.

    It is a interesting topic though - how best to warn the people ahead without causing fright or losing street cred....

    Ray x

  3. Although 'naff', the bell's pitch does carry well.

  4. Pardon my ignorance, but what's a Norbert?

  5. What's a Norbert? Have you not been on one of our fine motorways?

    They're up there with Eddie Stobart as one of the lorries that you see every five minutes.

    In this case they're red and have 'Norbert Dentressangle' written across them.