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

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Day-51 Pac man mode!

A dry woodland wild camp again with another warm night. waking hungry again I decided to alter today's route from the off the route stays the same keeping to the Coleridge way a long haul uphill through the lane pictured, down a short lane to court farm and I'm walking along idyllic valleys with steep sides that are Beech covered and lush! Makes a change to be walking along valleys in this are rather than up and over! To Kingsbridge and normal service resumes with a long long haul up Lype hill, a nicely rounded hill this one with wide panoramic views in the early autumn sunshine, a nice long easy downhill into Wheddon cross where a small Garage had a good sized store as part of its holding's, a good coffee and adequate bacon roll along with other provisions saw me sat down eating on a nice bank of grass over road from the store. Catching more sunshine in the process. A chap cycling came over for a chat, a fellow wild camper it turned out, who had been on a three day wander and camp trip. Interesting guy who's certainly seen the world!.
At Wheddon is where my route changed, sticking to the B3224 rather than heading for the moors I start eating up (pac man mode) road miles and pub stops first at Exford in time for a good Sunday lunch and then finally to the Exmoor forest Inn for a second Sunday lunch! And free camping in their back garden! Great and recommended pub!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Day-50 no longer on the level!

As often happens the transition from rest day to walking again can be difficult. Today's start was a bit like reviving the dead! A lateish start and body and mind not wanting to do as required didn't help, it was a bit like jump starting a car uphill but start I eventually did.
Uphill in the smilie was accurate as shortly after leaving the site I'm heading up into the Quantock hills a high range that quickly puts the levels behind you, very quickly in my case as my route is straight up and over. At the top I'm surprised at finding highland cattle, always pleasant beasties!
Down into Crowcombe then under the west Somerset railway where steam and diesel locomotives were shuttling tourists back and forth.
Following the track for a bit then heading into Stogumber (love these names!) In time for dinner at the pub, a very nice streak and kidney pudding.
With the hills rising around me on this balmy but grey day I pass through the village of Monksilver before a rollercoaster of hills through Huish Berton where i find the Austin six in the picture. Then up and down the route brings me to Roadwater where I stock up with provisions before passing the still to open valiant soldier pub and following the Coleridge way into the woods, where as I lay in my tent writing this the owls seem to be harassing pheasants... Noisy sods!!!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Friday 26th September

Rest day at curry pool mill campsite in lovely sunshine, clothes washed and dried blog caught up and lots of chilling out!
The evening sees my mates Rab and Saz from yeovil pay me a visit and treat me to a pub meal! Much appreciated peeps ! And great to see familiar faces, the first in six weeks!

Day-49 On the level

The field pitch of last night went without a visit from a shotgun toting farmer or a visit from cows in the next field! Though either was possible!
An early start saw me leave Allerton moor and continue across the Somerset levels to a village called Mark with its shop open early I could restock food for the day. Meeting some locals who expressed interest in the walk, with wishes of good luck I move on.
A straight track/road through Mark moor and I meet a heard if cattle being driven towards me. Knowing how skittish cattle can be I wait in a gateway until after much hesitation they pass.
Further on I reach gold corner a farm and major pumping station for the levels that boasted a spring tide that would reach half way up the first floor of most modern homes! Wonder where it reached in the flood of last winter? (2014).
The station pumps into the broad Huntspill river that upon close inspection looked higher than the foundations of the pump house...
On to Cossington where I join a short stretch of railway line before crossing the fields to Bridgewater. With the land so flat here you can't tell from the buildings that the town is so big, only the major A roads approaching give you a clue.
Into the centre a pub meal was found before heading out through a street fair where I felt disjointed from all the stalls with their gaudy tat on sale and the crowds pushing to enjoy the rides. I'm definitely a big step sideways from society while I walk this trek!.
With more provisions loaded up for my rest day tomorrow (no room at the inn for Friday and Saturday) I head west to Curry pool mill campsite for a good rest and clean up. This will also save me £50 in accommodation costs so not a bad change of plan ;0)

Day-48 A fruity passage!

My pitch under hawthorn bushes on çadbury camp hill provided a good dry night despite the gentle rain in the early morning. Everything packed away well and the sharp descent to Tickenham proved easy.
At this point I altered the route after last night's failure to find a shop. The route towards Nailsea took me over monkey bridge, interestingly named after a traveling menagerie lost it's monkey carriage here in 1906! Nice piece of local info from the local council who secured a plaque here!
Into town and a very convenient co-op secured my food for the day.
B roads from town through Chelvey and Claverham, with the clouds being blown away south and sunshine becomes dominant as I enter Yatton. A quick hop across some fields and my way becomes easy level but busy as I join the old Strawberry railway line now a cycle track/nature reserve. A quick conversation with another walker reassures me it's not just me who can't hear cyclists until they are right upon you, so taking a slightly militant approach I decide to hog the path! At least now 'the silent menace' as my fellow walker branded cyclists would have to pass politely!
Through Sandford and into Winscombe before rejoining the strawberry line to make use of the easiest passage of the Mendip hills that is available, railway line and tunnel! (pic) .
A bit of road walking through lower Weare and footpaths take me through Badgworth and Stone Allerton until I find a pitch in the fields.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Day-47 The sweet spot

As ever a camp beside a river means that you wake up in the mist! And after a clear night it's a now a cold brisk morning. With the sun rising behind me the temperature soon improves and matches the fine views of the wetlands along the river. Wild fowl are in abundance and twitchers are flocking to see (sorry!).
Bad jokes aside ... I walk on into Severn beach and find a bakery open selling breakfast rolls and tea so a quick stop is in order.
Back on the path and following my old route in reverse I find that a cycle way now links up to the industrial estate here, wonder if it existed in 2010? Would have been nicer than the traffic dodging I remember doing! And it really is better wending it's way through the estate with bushes either side and a pleasant steam that looks in a healthy state , you soon forget the sounds of industry around you.
The past joins the Lawrence western lane and over the M5 motorway on a bridge that had been preconstruction back in 2010 requiring an alternative route, today it takes me into the suburbs of Bristol and to a Gregg's where I load up for dinner.
Rejoining the cycle track I head towards the M5 and up onto the bridge over the river Avon , great views back to Bristol and forward to Portishead. My path though wiggles it's was down and under the M5 to join with an abandoned railway before coming back over the motorway to Portbury , where a quick pint of ale in the sunshine set me up for a walk under the Beech trees of prior wood, the path goes uphill here Charlton farm before cutting back into the woods and over to Naish house, a curious building that needs some research doing into its history.
The path i follow then joins an anonymous B road through Lime Breach wood where the occupants of the massive  houses maintain their anonymity with high walls, CCTV cameras and signs warning 'beware ferocious dogs patrol here' just made me more curious to find out who lives here!.

On a bit more along the ridge to the iron age ring fort (pic) of Cadbury Camp where I find my sweet spot for a pitch for the night!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Day-46 The last border crossing

Last night's B&B was a good and needed move , I really needed to eat like I did, once more the calories had been too few for the exertion in the last few days. Now though I'm seeing the problem a lot sooner, should have it sorted by the time I finish! Lol
Away from the castle inn and I disappear into the morning mist following a route through town that I'd looked at over new year, recognise the church Ruth or JP ??
Very atmospheric in the mist.
From Usk the road naturally climbs up a steep hill, gotta love these valleys!!! The road degenerates into a rocky byway which in turn becomes a sunken lane before reaching the hill top. A few turns and the tarmac reappears before I climb a stile and attempt to follow a path to priory farm. Without the GPS I'd have been walking in circles here. Thank goodness for tech! Although it didn't help with finding one path where I eventually scrambled up a steep slope with the aid of trees and roots to haul me up! Through another overgrown byway and I hit B roads , I'm making good time on the roads and I reach Mynydd Bach in time for a lunchtime beer , back on the roads to Chepstow where I restock meths for the stove.
While here I have another radio interview even now it feels surreal to be sitting in some housing estate and talking to Northamptonshire!!

From Bulwark (the estate) I find the footpath that goes the length of the M48's bridge over the river Severn and finally out of Wales into England. on the far bank at Aust I reach the path I followed on my lejog this is the first time I've crossed my 2010 route since John O'groats! Sticking with the old path for a mile until I'm about half way between the two Severn bridges where I find a nice out of the spot for tonight's camp. With views of the sun setting over the river to complete the day.

Day-45 The Skirrid and beyond

Similar to the day from Hay, today started with a long steep uphill, this one though was long over due. The Skirrid (holy mountain) is a hill that I've long wanted to climb it's a small ish but impressive lump from the north, with extremely steep sides and a long ridge descent to the south. Naturally I get the steep climb! But it was so worth it! Due to it's small peak the Skirrid gives a stunning 360 degree view of the black mountains, long town valley, England and on a clear day the Severn estuary, not quite clear enough for that today with the slight autumnal haze, but a beautiful day none the less! . walking down the ridge I get chatting to a fellow hiker who informs that after the war Rudolf Hess was incarcerated in what is now Abergavenny hospital and he was used to exercise by walking up the Skirrid with his guards, not such a bad life!.
Away from the hill across pleasant farm land to a very unused byway which I had to hack my way through, but just about passable. At llanddewi Rhydderch I join the number 42 cycle route for an easy road stretch to Abberffrwd and then on to the Esk valley way for a long gentle walk along the river to Usk passing the now inevitable Himalayan balsam that's taken over our river banks for most Britain that I've seen. Can't say I'm too fond of its sickly sweet smell!.
At Usk I restock provisions and head to the private campsite at Usk castle who had previously arranged access for me, though with no one about and nobody answering the phone I didn't feel comfortable just setting up here, so into town again and a B&B was booked for the night at The Castle Inn.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Day-44 donkeys in the mist

Radnors end campsite worked out very nicely. And a thank you to them for the free pitch!
The walk downhill into hay gave an easy start to loosen leg muscles then with provisions purchased I started the 6km walk up to the top of Hay bluff, very steep in places but finding the donkeys in the pic gave me an excuse to stop and gave them a good fuss!
With every step up I was walking deeper into the cloud and a light but continuous rain, the path loops around to approach the top from the north east flank of the ridge, although by this time all I knew was that I was going uphill with about 8mtrs visibility. Reaching the top was OK my fitness must be massively improved over my normal condition! And so I started the 15km walk along the top of the black mountains. In good conditions this is a fine walk with great views, not for me today tho. So head down and march, I did meet two other souls up there but we were all eager to complete our walks and passed with brief Hello's.
Down and out of the clouds and the short walk to days end at llanvihangle Crucorney set me in sight of my next hill The Skirrid. The local pub of the same name has the translation  of this meaning Holy mountain! Tomorrow will tell!

Saturday 20th sept rest day 7

Another days rest and reading eating, washing of clothes plus a trip to the pub..... Nothing else ;-)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Day-43 Thank goodness for New Radnor!

Waking up once again in pine forest, everything is still dark apart from the glow in the dense fog that permeates the top of Radnor hill, despite the fog the trees have once again kept my tent dry :-), walking in the near white out fog tho everything soon gets a clammy damp feel, but that won't last the heat I put out walking soon dissipates any damp, though I wish it clear this fog, visibility is about ten yards and without the gps I'd have little hope of finding the paths I'm walking, once again the inner boy scout has kept me prepared!.
Although yesterday's shop shortage no one could prepare for! And this morning the fear that the shop planned for in New Radnor might not exist was a strong fear, coming down from the hill the first person I met is a lady Claire and her dog Alice who not only provided water but also dispelled my fear! Thank you! 

Into the village and word of my trek has spread to the shop!.. Esco a great village run establishment who kindly donated to the charity! Lovely people! 


Now carrying enough food for the day I walk south out of the village past the impressive monument to Sir George Cornwall Lewis... I'll have to look him up!

South I go and up and over steep hill called The Smatcher seems oddly appropriate!? Catch of breath at the top and straight downhill to Yardo then via ancient sunken lanes and they're modern equivalent I reach Gladestry where I stop for lunch. 

Here I also rejoin the Offas dyke path, uphill and to Grove farm where I meet a fellow end to end walker! A lady named Caroline (pic) who is walking the route in sections for a Gaza charity (will supply details later) 

Down hill to Newchurch and up again through more sheep country. Down into the next valley and I make my stop at the perfectly named Radnors End camp site! You couldn't make that up! 

Day-42 Roller-coaster country

A good dry pitch in the woods again, away in good time. Note to self... Use real maps not the mental version you'll head in the right direction that way! .... Ahem!
On the right path and the long downhill from Kerry Pole starts in a cold wind with overcast skys although with a pack on I'm soon sweating so it's down to a t-shirt again, the map shows a stone circle here, must be very well hidden there's no trace to my eyes.
From the top of the hill the track goes through Coed-Nantyrhynau woods... Wonder what that translates to! From the woods I'm into 4k of B roads to Felindre where the expected shop had closed down, very glad to have bought plenty of food yesterday! From Felindre the route heads up on Glyndwrs way to a 11km path over high moorland where the path links 10 hill tops of varying names most noticeable being Stanky hill, where a grouse shoot was going on, think some birds got away today as they had to stop until I'd passed. A quick lunch on the tops and with the sun breaking through I descend into Llangunllo to briefly hit the valley before ascending pitch hill and then down the other side (see what I mean about roller coasters?). The expected pub in Bleddfa does exist though it's not open yet at 5pm and with a long haul up through Radnor hill I push on a good pitch. A cheap day today though I'm going to be in trouble if the shop in New Radnor doesn't exist as that's the only reprovisioning point until Hay on Why!....

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Day-41 following Monty

My wild camp was noisy this morning articulated lorries were thundering west towards Welshpool, at least that meant I got moving early, into the warm misty morning along the Montgomery canal I'm into town quickly and Tesco for provisions, while shopping I was given a donation for the charity, good to think I'm not just seen as the smelly hobo that I currently am! Authentic that's me!
The canal path I'm following also doubles up as the Severn Valley way so some of you will know it well!
Belan passes by as though it's moving not me! Level walking on canals is done almost in a trance these days! Though spotting red deer on the western bank caught my attention!
Berriew is past in a similar manner except where the road has built into the canal completely blocking it! My canal trance takes me to Abermule where I cross the iron bridge in the pic, a quick pint and enough provisions for tonight and my road heads into the strange but pleasantly bumpy land to Kerry, I say strange as at first glance it looks like hard work but the road I'm on threads levely along steep sided valleys, no effort required until I head uphill to the village of llanmerewig and in sunshine wander the hills to Kerry (Ceri).
Into the village post office I get another stamp for the end to end club form and get chatting to the proprietor also an avid walker, who kindly supplies free Mars bars!
Out the village and a long hard end of day drag takes me up to Kerry Pole the highest point on the kerry Ridgeway and into the woods for tonight's pitch.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Day-40 Open to Offas!

A misty and damp morning meant a slightly soggy start to the day from Selattyn hill, with Offas Dyke here it was also an easy start there's no way you can get lost following this national trail with signs everywhere! Initially these led me through simple farm lands until a B road section approached Racecourse common the old (victorian?) ground for Oswestry horse race's not much trace of these with just the ruins of its rather small grandstand visible from the path. From the common my path led into candy woods, a rather good name for these pretty woodlands, although anyone walking the dyke south to north may be too tired from climbing the hills these woods are set in to appreciate the beauty! Personally I found a nice stone built cove with seats to take a few minutes rest and enjoy the scenery and the squirrels hoping around.
But the path must be trod and down I go and with every down there's another up, this one on the road up to Trefonen, where annoyingly my planned stop for food was hampered by the shop having closed recently... No planning for that! Still with plenty of wild damsons to gorge myself on this wasn't such a problem.
The rather busy B road through Treflach and Pont-y-waen leads me to path around Llanymynech hill and on to the redundant Staffordshire canal, even though this canal is no longer passable it is still in the capable hands of good maintenance and the the tow path and lock mechanisms are in good order as are the old buildings and homes that would have been associated with the canal (pic).
Of the canal at Four Crosses I find both pubs closed down but at least the garage shop is still in operation, I bought a cracking locally made pork and blue cheese pie with damson topping! They could have charged twice what I paid for that!.
Crossing some more fields the path runs along the flood defences of the river Severn with views to rapidly diminishing Breiddon hill where mining has certainly shrunk the hill since my last visit... Must compare photos!.
The path followed the Severn somewhat laboriously (or I was just tired!) to Pool Quay, a quick pint there and the Montgomery canal after a few miles became home for the night.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Day-39 jumping the border

Away from Allt Gymbyd rested but far from full, rations are next to none and just a few snacks to keep me going, other than wild fruit that is luckily I see plenty this morning, blackberry's, bilberry's,damsons and sloe so energy was enough.
My path away was following the Clewidian way which appears sparsely used and certainly indistinct, not a problem for long as I'm away from it and after hoping over a few A road's I meet another old friend the Offas dyke path, not been here for about ten years,how time flies! Following the way uphill through steep wood land of Llandegla forest then passing over the Marsh boardwalks of Cryn-y-brain I'm into a track leading to the world's end! This is actually an agricultural estate!.
Following the track around the valley of the estate I come across various check points for, as i found out later an 88 mile cycle race.
Leaving the road for the cycles I keep to the path that wends a precarious way along the scree of Eglwyseg mountain (pic), though even here I couldn't avoid mountain bikes as four of them tottered along this pretty dangerous path towards and past me as I hunker down on the scree to give them room.
At rock farm I rejoin the cycle race for a mile, so many cyclists passing mid race were wishing me luck and giving me the thumbs up! I guess quite a few have cycled the end 2 end!
Down into Llangollen I stop for a Sunday roast of lamb which finally restored my energy, provisions for tonight and new insoles for my boots and I head south up the steepest road I've walked yet! This could really benefit from being zig zagged! Over the top of the hill and down to Pontfadog to find another steep hill to sap my energy! But this is near the end of my day so through Craignant and up onto Sellatyn hill rejoining Offas dyke for a wild camp.

Saturday 13th September

Rest day, eat drink read don't move!

Day-38 into Wales

My pitch high on Brandon point was a good choice as the Dee valley is thick with mist this morning, meaning my tent is only slightly damp and not soaked this morning.
Away and after no more than a few hundred meters I cross into Flintshire and Wales my third country this walk, passing by the Sealand mod firing range before entering an industrial estate, luck on my side again there's a burger wagon on my route, tea and breakfast roll latest one again free! Thank you Sizzlers!
Happily carrying on I pass a very empty looking Toyota factory, where security felt the need to check out this walker! A quick wave and they were on their way tho.
The cycle track I'm following runs parallel with the wirral railway and over the Dee into Shotton, quickly through I'm away onto footpaths to Buckley where chicken and chips for lunch, also getting provisions in for my rest day tomorrow.
South west out of town my route turns from twisty B roads to confusing footpaths and consequently back to little B road's to make the end of the day a little easier, a final byway that was in use for upgrading electricity pylons and I'm at my restday spot at Allt Gymbyd caravan park... Sadly both the bar and shop were closed but such is life I've got just enough food to get me to Llangollen on Sunday morning if I eat up some of the odds of food that have been gathering in rucksack... Will definitely make the pack lighter!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Day-37 ' when you walk through the storm '.....you get wet!

As usual when I stay in a hotel I can't sleep!  Oh 1am why did you wake me?
On the plus side it meant I was up and packed and away by 7.30 leaving me ample time to walk to my surprise, which I've obviously given away with the pic! Yes I was allowed to wander around the ground at Liverpool football club! Many thanks to Rachel for organising this it was very special for me to see the ground that my relative, former Liverpool player Phil Neal used to wow the crowds!
Even opportunities like this can't hold up the walk (too much!) so off I go threading through the victorian terraces surrounding the stadium and down into the city centre, and wow a stunning centre it is! The architecture was incredible, I've obviously read to many incorrect stories about Liverpool as a place! The grandeur of its time as the second largest port in Britain during the days of the Empire and the title door to the Americas was obviously not overdoing it!
Down to the Mersey, and with the famous Liver building behind me I catch the equally famous ferry across the Mersey! It's a tourist boat so I get a tour of the sights along with (inevitably) a few lines being sung from ' ferry across the Mersey'...Good cheesy fun!
Into Birkenhead for lunch and more victorian terraces to navigate, then back into the countryside and a little wild fruit foraging, before walking into Neston for supplies, down to marshes along the river Dee and on to Burton point where a nook high up in a hill gives me a great view of the sun setting over the Marsh and eventually the lights of Wales.
Wales actually being only a few hundred meters to my left as I look south!.

Day-36 a short day

With a slight mist rising from the canal into another azure sky I'm off on my last leg of the Leeds to liverpool canal, without a great distance to walk it's nice to kick back and just saunter along and stop more than I've been doing of late feeding the minnows that rise to the surface once you've not moved for a bit and taking a bit more time chatting along the way, I pass Haskayne, Lydiate,and Maghull before leaving the Canal at Aintree heading south in a remarkably warm afternoon to my 1.45pm stop at a Travel lodge for the night,  feeling hungry I visit a nearby KFC and my hunger decides the size of my dinner...a six piece bargain bucket that I demolish! Guess I needed it!.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Day-35 we're on a roll!

Right first off I'm going back to last night....
As I lay in the tent listening to the birds and watching the light fade I became aware of a roar outside, I could only describe it as being similar to the sound of a large ship going upstream, which with the apparent depth of the river Ribble was impossible! Curiosity took hold and I looked out to see a wave of water over a meter high going upstream, I've finally seen my first tidal bore!  Thankfully from a good three meters higher than it reached!.
By this morning normal service had resumed and I packed up and headed west with flocks of geese, lapwings, ducks and the occasional cormorant for company.
Following the Ribble valley way south to its beginning /end the path I need becomes amorphous again! Not being where it should be and not east of its course so it had to free west.... Yep took way to much faffing to find it but hey Ho I did!
The path goes along side the river link of the Lancaster canal and Leeds to Liverpool canal which at change of tide must be hazardous for barges as during a rest I watched the tide change and the still river became a torrent! Away from the river on small B road's until with great fortune I find Sizzlers snack van, being hungry as ever I order the biggest breakfast roll I can get and a cuppa tea, joining in with the banter between a chap delivering coal and the lady owner (pic) the conversation comes around to what I'm doing with such a large pack on my back, after the story is told I go to pay for my second breakfast only to be told it's free due to the charitable nature of my walk! (do I need to explain the title?) great lass who really made my morning with her kindness.
Away down the A69 to Bretherton and back on to the canal network, although the tow path here is non existent a regular path takes you along until the tow path emerges, after about 5km I leave the Leeds and Liverpool canal and go into the pub at Rufford, burger and chips a pint and some tea, and a cheeky use of a socket to charge my phone. Taking the b roads west in walking in farm lands as flat as the fens, where they are growing carrots, onions, potatoes and turf, my path I planned around Martin mere wetlands and wild fowl trust was a bit of a let down as I'm jammed up against 10 foot electric fences and not the hoped for wetland views. Something you cant plan for. Back to the canal and after a quick pint at Heston's bridge I find a nice little spot to pitch by the canal.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Day 34's photo!

Day-34 unexpected kindness

After a night listening to the screech of birds (owls?) in the beech trees overhead, I wake early with no great rush to get going as my first move is for provisions in Garstang. I quickly find a Booths supermarket and purchase a bench breakfast (exactly as it sounds!) and food for the day, moving off from said bench I head back to the canal.
Out of town the canal briefly follows the M6 to Bilsborrow where it slowly (as is the won't of canals) veers west, passing some canal workers repairing the tow path a few hellos are exchanged before continuing quickly on.
Leaving the canal for Woodplumpton, I stop at the Wheatsheath pub for dinner and a pint, great pub and great people here as I raise another £8 and then as I pay I'm told the food is free! That really caught me of guard as it's very much a first for me! Can't state how appreciated that was!.
Walking away with a full stomach and a smile I cross the M55,and head into Preston where walking along I see a chap in the uniform of the canal repairs team, not just any worker but one of the guys in the pic!.once I leave the canal I appear to have become invisible again!  People obviously too busy to say hello.
Finding a Lidl store I stock up again for the evening and cross over the river Ribble at the bridge, here I become visible again! And chat with a cyclist who is considering cycling an end to end route... Do it!, nice bloke and a good chat at the end of which he also donates!.
Walking from the clamor of the busy roads to the quiet of the riverside embankment the city soon fades away and I'm among wildfowl and a different raucous noise for tonight.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Day-33 Canal desires! ;-)

A chilly night always means a sunny morning, today's no exception the sky is azure blue, perfect! And the sky dominates my horizon as I walk across the thick clay like surface of morecambe Bay, I've walked a curious number of surfaces on this walk and this is one of the more odd! But saying that it's a good walking surface and progress is good into Hest Bank,into the town and back to the canal that's leading me on through today, with the sun shining down and sparkling in the water progress is relaxed into Lancaster, taking the loop east the canal keeps a nice view of the city and the dominant castle in the cities north.
Leaving the canal briefly to go into the center for breakfast and snacks, I'm drawn to the impressive city hall and facing it a huge statue of Queen Victoria! Very stern visage!
A quick visit to Greggs again (not sponsoring me!) and a chat a bloke as I ate, nice how this impresses people! During this chat another guy sat quietly at the other end of the bench as I stood to go he thanked me for what I'm doing, turns out he was homeless! This won't help him personally but to be appreciated like this was incredible.
Humbled I move on back to the canal and out of this impressive city... Must return one day.
The canal wends it's way through the country with an avenue of trees, with the sun bright above dappling the water. the mood I'm walking in is blissful!
At lunch I pass a canal side cafe where I purchase a baked potato, always good for energy, then with the trees becoming fewer and the sun brighter, I'm walking amidst a flotilla of Butterflies and dragonflies! Beautiful, this day couldn't get any better!
But it does, stopping to chat to a group of people with border terriers.. Has to be done, they offer me a few beers to take with me and to up my water! How appropriate that their barge is called Plodder! Lol
Nicely loaded up I wander until I spot a good place to camp under a beech tree just north of Garstang.

Day-32 Half day n Rest

The camp on the wrong side of the sea defence worked out well without any tidal disturbance, a little drizzle was the worst I got, nothing in not used to!
To reduce the time spent walking today I opted to stick to the b road that the cycle track follows, very little difference in distance just simple to do.
The track went thru Dallam tower's deer park... No deer just sheep and on into Beetham.dodging in and out of woodland to Yealand storrs,uphill to Yealand Redmayne and then up a Hovis add steep hill through Yealand Conyers.... Wonder what Yealand means???
Passing through Warton and into Carnforth I find the first available cafe for a full English breakfast.. Can't get enough of these!
Out of town via the Lancaster canal my first on this trek! And the going is easy and flat... Also a first!
Into Bolton-le-sands for supplies and across to the coast at Morecambe Bay for my rest at Red bank farm camp site.
Pitched and chilling a well loaded cyclist pulls onto the site, unloads near me and we get chatting, seems he's here to attend a 60's - 80's festival where he'll be celebrating northern soul!
Great chap and some good company.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Day-31 Foot sore!

After yesterday's mammoth push (well it felt that way!) my feet ache badly and my get up and go has done just that! Achingly I still have to follow suit! Into Bowness on Windermere for provisions and then straight up a road that runs up and out of town at an alarming angle to the top of Bram fell,tiny B road's and the track in the pic take me to Gilding mill and then appropriately a place called Crook Foot! You couldn't make it up!. Here my luck improves with masses of blackberries to munch and damsons too!
Going into Crossthwaite I take a break on a wall overlooking the valley, a car stops thinking I'm a local and asks directions to Witherslack Hall school, which I could help with,noticing my rucksack they kindly donated £5.
A tiny Lane across the valley and a footpath up the other side and my path goes around the flanks of the cliff edged Whitbarrow scar, up and on top of this hills plateau and a fascinating landscape is mine to explore of sssi woodland and the rocky but pleasant land that I've found for my dinner break.
Down through the woods to Grain farm and looping roads to Levens for provisions, under the A590 and follow the A6 road to Haversham, a couple of long straight roads that wouldn't be out of place in the fens and I'm camped looking over the marshes of Milnthorpe sands.

Day-30 hump day!

The wild camp above derwent water was spot on, with no interruption, a nice early start and I'm heading deeper into Watendlath, skipping across the road in front of me goes a red squirrel! I've not seen one since my last pennine way walk, must be more than 7 years ago now! It's a morning for unusual sights, as I pass another viewpoint I spot two presumably pagans greeting the dawn or the rising sun, would have liked to have a chat but their meditations were taking some time!
Past the tarn and up a steep sided ascent, I'm being constantly overtaken by dogs as the local farms put there hunt dogs through their paces, boy can those dogs move!
At my considerably slower pace I trudge up the side of High Tove and over to Blea Tarn before going up standing crag and high saddle on route to the high point of my day Ullscarf! At 2175 feet not the highest I've been but a good push to get up it!, downhill along Greenup edge and then to another old friend Wainwrights coast to coast walk! And the usual throng of thru walkers!. Down to the head of Easedale for lunch shared with a group of Canadian C2C walkers the chap in the orange shirt in the picture kindly donated £20!!!.
Into the bottom of Easedale and I'm in Wordsworth country though with the sheer number of people here there's no chance to wander lonely.... Well you get my point! ;-)
A good icecream break in Grasmere then I'm off following the coffin route to Rydal! Some lovely folk here to chat to and I gave out no end of info cards!, and received another £10 in donations!
Through to Ambleside for provisions and a long wearying trudge along the A591 albeit with pleasant views of windermere water, until at 7.30pm I collapse down at the campsite.
A very tough but great days walk! Which has put me at past the half way point! From here on in the larger distance is behind me!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Day-29 Into the lake district

A late departure from Caldbeck with a full stomach was a good compromise, and with a day in the fells a necessary one.
The uphill starts right in the village as I get back on the Cumbria way with fairly steep paths along quiet country lanes and through sheep fields, at Nether row the path gets properly steep and zig zags help to get your lungs accustomed, this is old mining country but this side of the hill there's little evidence, four kilometers of ascent to the top and a horizontal path takes me to lingy bothy, I stopped here when I walked the way last.... Chilly old bothy it was too! The path descends here running parallel with graingill beck and the new boots prove there worth gripping nicely to the steep hillside, passing the visible remains of a mine at the bottom the path turns to the south west along a fairly level valley to Skiddaw house youth hostel, where I stop for my lunch, the solitude is broken here as suddenly the valley is full of walkers! Nice bunch of people, but walkers generally are.
After lunch I set off directly south along the side of longscale fell briefly crossing another long walk, this being one of my own devising that I titled the Cumbrian roman ramble!  Linking up a lot of roman sights over a 150 mile trek.
Lonscale fell's path is on quite a sheer hillside where one slip to your left as you go could be your last, the paths good though and progress is quick now I've eaten, and I soon catch up with my lunch time visitors, a good chat as we went with me having my pace matched by an 82 year old!  If I'm half that fit when I'm that age I'll be pleased!
Down the side of latrigg a small hill to the south of Lonscale and I'm into Keswick and the Booths supermarket sees me fed and stocked up for tomorrow.
I head along the banks of Derwent water looking for a quiet pitch for the night, without luck. plenty of flat areas but all shale ground so no chance of putting the tent up. Picking up the road to Watendlath I soon find a place to sleep,with great views of Derwent water. Nice way to end the day :-).

Day-28 new boots!

The first English wild camp goes nicely undisturbed and I'm away just after seven again, a few twisty lanes and similar b roads and I meet back up with the river Eden looping it's way through Carlisle until the A7 crosses over on a rather grand bridge, then I dip under the major roundabout via the nicely decorated underpass and into the city centre, crossing paths with the locals rushing to work in both boiler and power suits I'm quite the odd sight, though this town appears to be one where I remain invisible.
A quick wander around and a find breakfast and wait until the local Cotswolds outdoor shop opens who quickly supply me with new boots(heels and grip both worn out) and a new pair of waterproof trousers which I'd split on a barbed wire fence...Thankfully just the trousers!
As I'm heading out of town I receive a text from Rachel at Accommodation Concern with some most amazing and exciting news! Which you'll have to wait until the day to hear about! (major teaser!).
This news completely throws me and I lose track of my direction (not unusual in a town) my gps soon puts me right and and I'm reunited with another old friend the Cumbria way! Not too sure when I walked this but u think around 2004. This great path heads very quickly out of town following the river Caldew, where I soon become visible to people again, all of a sudden now I'm in my expected surroundings people want to know about the walk! And cards with all the info are soon flying out my hands! It's never raised this much interest in any other place! :-)
Into Dalston and the level of interest is similar though cash donations start coming in!.
My spirits match the bright sunny weather as I leave town and I'm back following the Caldew, past the posh lime house school and then Rose castle, a bishops palace in the past.
The river continues to be followed with diversions to alow for the large amount of erosion that this now placid river seems to have caused, winters must cause a considerable increase in flow.
Into woods now and the path sharply heads up hill before levelling out and and then dropping into Caldbeck, cheeky pint and a pub meal and then I settle down for the night.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Day-27 new month, new country

The rest day obviously did me good as I'm up packed and away by 7.15am, along the still quiet streets of Annan to Tesco, provisions bought and away I go to the solway firth and my first sight of England!
Not only England but Bowness on.Solway as well, this place being special to me as it was the end of my Hadrians wall walk a couple of years ago.
Along the Firth I walk passing huge sections of netting on poles to catch salmon swimming in these waters.the path here is well signed and a pleasure to walk until it turns inland to Eastriggs, not my route I'm giving one last stretch of black dots the opportunity to prove to be the path the map indicates..... Fool! Within half a kilometer I'm scrambling through reed beds and gorse bushes! The best way through its to follow the line of the MOD fence although this has plenty of opportunities to trip you up, eventually rounding Torduff point the path becomes obvious again with many small paw prints, this side of the point is obviously a regular dog walk and the going becomes easy.
At Browhouses I head inland along country lanes turning this way and that until I enter Gretna, pleasant place, I soon reach the old toll house which is now a cafe right on the edge of Scotland as the name suggests. Fish and chips for lunch.... superb! At the back of the toll house is a cairn being erected by pro unionists called hands across the border! I place a stone here.
Then finally and a little emotionally I enter England! Following a B road beside the M6 for a few miles no less than six end to end cyclists pass me, one stops to chat this is his third end to end trip one on foot and now his second by cycle... Wonder if two will be enough for me?.
My round turns south west to Rockcliffe and I start to follow with absolute confidence those wonderful pink dotted or dashed paths marked on English maps. These do not let me down!. Past a place called Cargo and along the river Eden until I find a wild camp for the night just outside Carlisle....perfect for tomorrow's plans.