Walking 1004.9 miles from John O'Groats to Lands end in aid of Accommodation Concern! (starts august 3rd 2014)

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Day thirteen-End of stage two

Another peaceful woodland night leads to a dry packing of the tent with the dawn chorus heralding our departure!, With half a mile walked we cross paths with the A508 in a full rush hour chorus of its own, I know which I prefer!.
Through Lamport and back into the fields to Faxton along more familiar paths to Mawsley and into Kettering via Great Cransley two weary pilgrims of the trail finally collapse onto a very familiar sofa..........Until next year!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Day twelve-its all looking mighty familiar!

With no trees overhead last night the tent is very soggy with mist far from the first time! Packed away as it was we followed the canal north to Braunston, with many a good morning to the barge folk-nice people these :)
into the village and another provision stop (more dog food!) and we're on a familiar path the jurassic way, many parts of which I've followed in my walking! Not this bit tho. Through the lovely Ashby St Ledgers and over what might be the busiest collection of routes I've seen with a railway,a canal,an A road and the M1 all crossing the path within eight hundred yards or so!
Through Watford (known for its gap!) Staying with the jurassic way to West Haddon, east across country we we're spoilt with a free air show as the last remaining Vulcan bomber circled overhead for a good fifteen minutes!
Onwards through Hollowell and Cotesbrooke we reach the far south west edge of my local walking territory! And find another wild camp this time next to the Lamport valley way, near Hanging Houghton.
Which leaves us with a very short stretch to get us home tomorrow !

Day eleven-overtaking ourselves!

After another very surprisingly undisturbed night we head off at first light, with a gentle mist around us we pass through Newbold Paceys hall grounds to get to the road at Ashorne. A couple of miles of this takes us over the M40 , squeezing through an overgrown kiss gate and the unobvious path takes us to Chesterton, passing its fairly remote church we cross country to Bishops Itchington for restock of provisions, on through Ladbroke, over the hill via footpath and over a road named on the map as the Welsh road (no idea why?) More obscure paths lead us finally (after much swearing) to Napton on the hill, or more importantly the folly pub on the Oxford canal,a nice pint of doom bar (didn't know you could it so close to home!) And a good meal see's us following the canal north, with lots of chatting to barge dwelling folk and a relaxing pace as we are ahead of schedule, lazily watch the evening approach and set the tent up for the night on the tow path.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Day ten-pushing my luck!

An early start at the wild camp and we still had a visit from a local dog that couldn't decide what the tent was and just grunted at it! Phew!
Hot footing away in the early morning light we crossed through pretty fields again under a blue and sunny sky.
Into Alcester a pretty little town! And breakfast at the welcome cafe, nice they allow dogs in too :).
Heading out of town we pass through a preserved but lived in lane very pleasing on the eye.(pic to follow), on to B roads again Walcote where an old ex pub (called the crown I found out later) had an enormous old cider press (pic) never seen its like before!
Across the fields and into withycomb wood where an ancient pear tree (about thirty foot high) was shedding sweet little round pears, much appreciated!.
Into the pub at wilmcote where I learned the name of the old pub, out the village passed Mary Arden's house, following the canal for 5km we enter the mind boggling rush of civilisation (shock to the system!), passing a jester statue a quote from twelfth night was most apt "foolery sir does walk about the orb like the sun. It shines everywhere" here's to foolery I say!.
Across the Avon we restock at Tiddington then to the apparent river crossing at Alveston the only way across is via a long defunct ferry, luck smiled on us tho as true gent I'd been chatting to lived on the rivers bank and rowed us across! Can't say enough thanks to Gordon!
Five kilometers of field walking and we had to abandon the day to exhaustion and a hedgerow by a small lane, with far to much farm activity we once again settled down for the night with fingers crossed!...

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Day nine-almost hallowed ground!

Nice to stop at Ketch camp site again, equally nice was following my old lejog path into Worcester, quite odd to be humbled again by that massive achievement!
Through the barge docks and I was hopping to grab breakfast at the same cafe near the cathedral but as it was Sunday they didn't open till ten am, still nice to listen to the bells as I hunted for an alternative breakfast.
admittedly I can't navigate in Towns without my GPS! Glad to get out tho as the road east wasn't half as pleasant as the path north into town, can't have everything.
quickly over the M5 having taken eight days to get back to this point after driving south!. A combination of footpaths and B roads take us to Crowle for refreshments at lunch followed by nice rural footpaths to Flyford flavell where a car sales garage had a dodgy old Mercedes going for £999 registration L7MAO  funny if you understand text speak!. The next garage was the one I was aiming for to stock up at its Londis shop, while there a group of scooter enthusiasts road in good friendly bunch, even beeped at us as they passed further down the road :).
six kilometers of more field walking sees us wild camped precariously between two farms in a thin stretch of woodland..........nice listening to the owls hooting!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Day eight-the final hurdle!

From our woody bower a quick walk through the woods bought us to the  network of small B roads that linked us up with the Malvern hills, nipping up these with relative ease the panorama of the east spread out before us in a beautifully flat way!, along the roller coaster tops to beacon hill and down into Malvern town where we snacked at an organic cafe....very green!.
Malvern town is pleasant with unusually farm land in the middle! , out through the suburbs and B road
Walking to callow end pretty village with a great little shop on the village green, interesting church tower/spire didn't see more than this, then field hopping on the west bank of the river Severn to Ketch camp site at Worcester where we camped in 2010 enroute to john o'groats!.

Day seven-f in hedges!

Hoarwithy was a lovely little village, great pub and an amazing church with a nice bridge with an old toll house over the Wye then a bit of road walking to Kings caple out this village in a gentle breeze with sun showing and crossed the fields above the Wye to How caple passed the church and monastic (?) Buildings and then right on a footpath through woodland to stocking, we never actually saw stocking as the path came out onto the road half a kilometre further down the road than marked on the map, this was fine as the footpath we were after was another hundred yards down the road. :)
Over stubble fields to chapel farm (which actually has a chapel!) Then after a chat with the farmer we cross an old bean field and hit the b roads to much marcle stopping only to engage in a one way conversation with a brummie who was just moving into his new home and was intent on slagging of his old neighbors! Each to they're own!
Finding the pub in Much Marcle for dinner I engaged in conversation with the temporary manageress who lives in my sisters home town! Small world!, checking the website of my planned stop for tonight proved invaluable as the site had closed early due to the wet summer! Very glad I did as it was a couple of K off route!.
Walking away from the pub and into the fields I wondered if I'd drunk more than I had as every path I followed dead ended at five foot high hedges then continued on the other side! Much swearing at the absent farmer later we made it to Preston hall a magnificent wooden framed building! walking up its main drive was a treat and the following paths to Ledbury were fine,a quick shop stop at the Co op and we headed north a wooded hill for a cosy wild camp.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Day six-Border territory......pun!

Out of Pandy after a cracking fry up breakfast, with the sun shining and a day mostly of road walking ahead we were soon leaving the hills behind us. Still up's and downs but flat in comparison with the last days walking. We finally crossed the border(pic) into England at a tiny place called Kentchurch walking uphill off road for a while we found a rough hewn table and bench looking back towards the brecon's as it was lunch we took advantage of the view and chilled out for a while. :)
There followed an eleven kilometre road stretch with intermittent views through the tall hedges of largely crops and spinney's a pleasant change! Finally leaving the road we crossed a sugar beet field thick with borage, I've never seen so much of it!.
Finally we descend down to the cute rural village of Hoarwithy where we are camped by the river Wye for the night, with a great evening view of the local Church!

Day five- out of the Beacons

Shouldering a now heavy pack we hit the roads out of Crickhowell to Llangenny, with plenty of blackberries to boost us up hill we quickly found a sharp descent into the village, as with all descents there follows an ascent, this one up sugar loaf (mountain?) Which I nearly diverted around as it wasn't essential to the route, glad I didn't as although it was a tough climb with a very full pack the view east was stunning with visibility to the Malvern hills two and a half days walk away! The furthest we've seen so far?.the decent was so much easier to forest coal pit (village name?) Following a track around the hill with pleasant sunny (still !) Views we turned south east onto a road near Stanton, lovely easy going to Llanvihangle Crucorney which boasted Wales's oldest Inn, impolite not visit at lunch so we stopped for dinner :).......yes and beer!.
A quick walk to Pandy and we reached a planned stop for the route, early in the afternoon but stopping at this time helped with synchronising all the remaining planned stops, so making use of the bunkhouse at the old Pandy Inn, which I can't recommend enough for Offas dyke Walkers (john!)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Day four- bright thing blue stuff too!

Stopping by the stream proved a good plan, not only did we not get washed away in the night but with the rise of the sun blue patches appeared in the sky and the clouds finally broke!.
The push up to Pen y fan was hard going with stiff legs but we did overtake some pensioners.......ahem!, the views behind were great though the old lady(The hill) still wore her veil, wind battering the top we sheltered for a brief snack and were passed by a chap named Michael (has a dog called Alfie !) Who was walking the Beacons way too, quickly lost him in the cloud we left the top and started to see our surroundings at last....stunning!..I'd forgotten how nice this area is!
The view left to brecon was past the shear cliffs of Craig cwm sare with a ridge to the left I've previously walked, I followed that old route south easterly below Tor glas in lovely warm sunshine with the top of Pen y  fan now visible this kept my camera busy!.
Around to the left on a b road and off onto a forestry commission track around Talybont reservoir with more stunning views and blackberries too!
Up onto the ridge south east of the reservoir we meet some lost German mountain bikers, I think I managed to pass on the correct directions it was difficult to tell if they understood or not!.
Heading east down a pretty little farm track with lush green pastoral views we descended into Llangynidr where the path now follows the Monmouth shire and brecon canal all the way to Crickhowell, pretty and easy walking with yet more lush blackberries!.
Entering town we restocked our empty provision bag and found a campsite right next to a dog friendly pub "the bridge end" fed and watered sleep next :)

Day three -heads in the clouds

Leaving a soggy Glyntawe behind us have the inevitable slog uphill out of the valley, straight into the clouds and following on the rain that didn't stop all day! Of immediate interest was the abandoned Penwyllt mine and caving centre, with the mine came access to the abandoned railway line which shadowed our route and with a change of mind became our route, much easier! This linked directly onto forestry commission trails which passed through an area of pillow mounds, but by now the rain was so bad it was a case of heads down and march,a quick break under a convenient Hawthorn bush and a path led us down to a stream then uphill passed a monolith called Maen Madoc (picture to follow), interesting script down one side...no idea the language!.
Through woodland to afon llia and up the hill Fan Llia with the inevitable non existent path, passing two equally bemused doe groups coming downhill, with the wind battering the rain into our backs we were pushed uphill (some consolation!) And with no view we passed over fan dringarth and Rhos Dringarth cutting left and down past Craig Cerrig gleisiad a cliff side nature reserve where we escaped the wind for a coffee, opting to follow an a road for a bit we  reached a just closed tea waggon who kindly supplied us bedraggled Walkers with tea and mars bars! needed!.
ongoing we eventually reached the path up to Pen y fan but with worsening weather I called a halt and wild camped by the stream in a very soggy tent!.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Day two- or where's the bloody path!

After a far to restful night at the wild camp I oversleep until 7.30...oops should be on the trail by now!
Was a lovely morning though and walking away from the pitch and uphill the view back to the castle seemed to improve with each step, really must go back here one day.
Uphill steps just killed me today with food for three days in the pack for two the weight was not good!
Also I'm not hill fit as expected.
Losing the path for a bit worked in my favour as upon reaching a tiny b road my GPS showed the brecon beacons way heading uphill slightly to our left. finding it was another matter and as I was to discover later signs and path are pretty much non existent for this Welsh trail....hmmn!
With the path invisible I took a short cut from Pant Nant fforchog (great name!) To blaenpadol then foel fawr......wish I hadn't as the road section I had avoided had a tea and hot rolls waggon in a layby! Oh well. On to the top of moel gornach and the clouds came right down visibility was 15 yards and with an invisible path the going was to say the least difficult! We saw nothing of foel fraith coming down the other side we played dodge the sink hole...an interesting pursuit in these conditions!
Turning sharply north to go up Towyn swnd the rock formations (pic) gave an excellent pathway to the highest point of today then down and south east to Esgair Ddu where sheep tracks led us a bit too high, the "proper" path when we got to it was boggy all the way to Banwen Gwyn still the going was fine all the way to Glyntawe where we are currently camping at the Dan yr Ogof caves campsite were for once we're water rich......and I don't just mean the rain that's now coming down! ;)
All things considered it was a good day though reading this may suggest otherwise!

Day one, going backwards again!

After a very quick decision was made last Monday we (me and Alfie) are back on the backwards east west way starting from Ffairfach (pic) near Carmarthen we're walking home to Kettering a total of 192 miles (which probably needs checking!) In just under two weeks.
Kick off for this walk has been eventful with the first cockup happening before I'd even left the house, like a right Muppet I left my boots in the hall at home! Didn't notice until we were miles down the road :( glad I was wearing some old goretex boots, which incidently I was wearing for the first leg of this walk last year! So worked out ok in the end :)......so far anyway!.
Under way from Ffairfach our rout was uphill mostly on road, until we took a very indistinct footpath through boggy ground to the top of the southern range of hills, slightly down and past the imposing Carreg Cennan castle and we find a nicely sheltered spot by a stream to wild camp for the night.pics to follow!