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]

Sunday 4 May 2008

Day 19 - Easton-in-Gourdano to Chepstow

3 May
Distance: 19 miles

A week or ten days ago I made the pleasant discovery, on the eve of a long day, that there was a typo on the schedule and that the day I had 18.75 miles was actually only 17.

On the evening of Day 18 (when we could have walked a couple of extra miles without a problem) I found another typo - this one not so favourable. It turned out that our 18 mile day to Chepstow was actually 19.5 miles. It called for an early start and resistance of any long breaks.

Adrian & Deborah (of whom I'll speak separately once I've caught up with myself) dropped us back at our finish point in Easton at 7am.

It was a day that on paper looked like it was going to be dominated by motorways. Indeed, early on we walked alongside the M5, on the pedestrian walkway, across the Avon bridge. Fortunately the wind was not strong, although it was a bit disconcerting to feel the movement in the bridge, particularly as lorries went past.

Leaving the M5, I had exected to still feel its presence as we made our way along. As it turned out I take my hat off to Andy Robinson, the author of the Cicerone guide (whose route we were following in its entirety on this day), for he has managed to come up with a very pleasant route, taking in Blaise Castle (a hill-top folly built in 1766), Blaise Hamlet (which looked like it should have been made of gingerbread) and plenty of green places, woodland and parkland that gave no hint of its proximity to the motorways.

His route also passed a general store just as we were getting a bit concerned about where we would get any lunch, and once again as we pondered where to put our bananas a woman came over, put a pound coin down next to us and wished us well. I assume that it was a donation to Macmillan rather than her taking Husband's untidy beard and dishevelled appearance to mean that he was homeless and in need of a cup of tea!

A final crossing of the M5 saw us leave it for good. A few paces later an illegally obstructed ROW, together with a man on a quad bike telling us that the ROW ran around the edge of the field when it was blazingly clear from the map that it went straight across, had me ranting about ROW Officers, but my mood improved two gateways later when we arrived just as the big muddy wallow was being filled in with stone. Good timing there!

More pleasant walking took us by-and-by to another track, this time over the M4, then after a brief stop for lunch, within close sight of the 'Old Severn Crossing' we made our way up the access road to this magnficent suspension bridge.

We'd just got to the bridge when Edwina, at that point accompanied by husband Tony on a push bike, caught us up doing one heck of a lick. Chatting as we walked (she slowed down, we speeded up) it turned out that she had left Land's End on 20 April and was roughly following the Cicerone Guide route up to Scotland then taking a more direct route up to JOG. For the moment she's being supported by Tony in a campervan, but only for the next few days, whereafter she'll be backpacking.

So that's now 3 other end-to-end walkers we've met in a week. There must be quite a lot of us out there doing this (or Mick and I just have a special talent for bumping into those who are).

We walked into Chepstow as a party of three until in the centre a pub called Mick & I, whereas Edwina had a rendez-vous with a campervan to make.

For us there was no point continuing to our campsite for this was the day that we were switching tents from the TN Voyager to Wendy Warmlite, which meant that we needed to meet up with cousin Nic before we could pitch - and at 3.15 we had arrived in the town a good hour before we expected to.

After doing the equipment swap and gorging on a Chinese meal, it was quite a late night for us (9.30 to bed!) and it wasn't many minutes after crawling into Wendy that the gentle sound of snoring could be heard.

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