Tiverton to Greenham
I struggled again to get off to sleep last night, even though I was completely and utterly exhausted by the time I’d reached the Best Western hotel in Tiverton. What will it take for me to actually fall asleep at a reasonable hour without too much bloody effort?!
Trying to get out of bed I was a little alarmed to find that my feet still hurt from the previous day’s efforts…not good. As I pottered about my room sorting my stuff out fortunately they seemed to comeback to life which pleased me no end. I still had the job of putting on the plasters and taping them up to get them ready for the boots but for now I was just happy that they wanted to move!
As is becoming tradition for me now, I went to breakfast in my socks. I can’t normally face putting my boots on until the last moment before I walk out of my room for the last time so socks it is every morning. Do I care what anyone thinks? No. Has anyone said anything about it where I’ve been staying so far? No. If they did then I’d soon put them straight don’t you worry about that.
Feeling a lot better than the day before I braved the full English breakfast and some toast, hoping that it wouldn’t upset my stomach too much and that it’d get me through a good stint of today’s walk. I’m pleased to say that it did both…phew!
Checking out from the hotel, the lady on reception asked me where I was walking to. Again I went through the LEJOG walk conversation this time actually mentioning Sarah leaving and taking the girls. I don’t normally talk about this bit so it took me a little bit by surprise that I did this morning to this stranger. She thought it was amazing what I was trying to do and understood completely why I needed to do it. As she asked I gave her my website address, said goodbye and went out in to the already hot sunshine. It was another late start (9:10am) but I only had twelve miles to do today, all along the Grand Western Canal, i.e. flat, so I wasn’t too worried.
I’m fast beginning to realise that every day’s walk has to either start or finish with a hill, with some doing both. Although walking along the canal I had to walk up hill to get to it. Grrrrr! And there was me thinking I’d get away without any hills today. Oh well. Once on the canal though it was lovely to have a path stretch out in front of me that didn’t go up and down all the time. A welcome change I can tell you and I was hopeful for a good, quick stroll today.
About an hour in to the walk I came upon a lady and her father on their bikes, stopped on the towpath. After saying hello she asked if I could smell the rape seed from the field as her father couldn’t. I could, it was very strong indeed. We got chatting about the walk and person number two for the day asked for the website address, saying that she’d go on and look at sponsoring me. Nice. After our chat they went off on their bikes and left me for dust.
One thing I’ve got to say about today’s walk that won’t sit well with everyone is the fact that almost all the cyclists I came across today – bar the lady and her father – were all complete gits! Talk about thinking they owned the towpath, especially when it came to the bridges. There were lots and lots of signs telling them to dismount and to give way to walkers but did they bother? No, of course not – far too much trouble. I was hoping and praying for one of them to come shooting round the corner under one of the bridges as I was walking under so that I could barge them off the towpath into the water with my very hefty pack. Never happened though unfortunately. Shame.
A few miles in to the walk I came across a notice board with a memorial stone and two poppy wreaths beneath it. Curious as to what it was I stood there and read what it had to say. This was the site where a Canbera bomber, RAF Serial No. XM266, crashed on the 21st November 1961. After an engine fault the pilot, Flight Lieutenant Roger Johnson Moore, turned the plane away from Tiverton. The fact that the crew didn’t abandon the plane saved many people’s lives on the ground. Sadly both the pilot and the navigator died in the crash. The memorial stone and board were placed as part of a memorial service on the 45th anniversary of the crash.
An interesting story I would never have known about if I’d not been on this walk. I certainly hope to come across other little nuggets like this along the way.
Half way in to the walk and a bit zapped by the heat of the sun, I decided to stop at a pub in Sampford Pernell. The village had two pubs but as the first one had a big “Watch Sky Sports Here” banner out the front I thought I’d try the other, much nicer looking pub – the Globe Inn. I treated myself to a cooling pint of Otter bitter and had a larger lunch than normal. The place I was heading to didn’t have anything too near. The nearest pub was a mile away and I wasn’t sure I’d be up for that after a day’s walk just to eat. I relaxed for a good hour or so there, boots off, enjoying my food and drink. Yes, I knew the walk in the afternoon may well be a little harder with a belly full of beer and food but I wanted to make sure I’d had something a little more substantial than a sausage roll for the day.
With time moving on I left the pub behind me and hit the towpath to complete the final leg of the day’s walk.
An hour or so later I came across some old brick ruins on the other side of the canal. Again interested in what they were all about I stood and read the notice board. These were old limekilns. It’s thought that the Wayton limekilns were built around 1810 so quite old. The board had a wealth of information about the kilns and the process and reasons for burning the lime, but I won’t go in to it here and bore you all to death!
It wasn’t long before the canal suddenly disappeared. From speaking to the lady who owns Greenham Hall a big section of the canal up to Taunton fell in to disrepair as there were fourteen lifts to get the barges up the incline. These cost a lot of money to keep running and as they went wrong they never got fixed, eventually leading to that section of the canal closing.
With no towpath to follow I ended up on yet another lane and then across farm land via public footpaths. It wasn’t too long though before I made my way up yet another hill to get to Greenham Hall, my place of residence for the night.
To say that this place is stunning would be an understatement. I can’t believe I’ll be staying in such a fantastic building. This will definitely be a place I come back to after I’ve finished the walk, in a car though!
After off-loading all the gear in my room I had a great chat about the house, how they came to own it etc. It would seem that the house has become a labour of love for the owners, having got it for free when they bought the attached cottage. Free you ask? Yes, but there was good reason. At that time it was literally just a shell with no floorboards or anything. To say it needed a lot of work would be a severe understatement. They fell in love with the place though and so it began. 35 years later and they have a stunning home!
After having a Skype chat with Matt and then the girls, which ended with both Alice and Elisa mooning me over the camera, I put my boots back on and took a stroll round the lovely grounds to the house, taking lots of photos. This place really has to be seen. I’d highly recommend you stay here if you find yourself in the area of Taunton.
I had a Skype chat with Russ and Rachel too and during this Russ mentioned that where I was staying had a Somerset address. I asked him if he was correct so he double checked it and yes, I am now in Somerset! I have no idea when that actually happened as it only seems like yesterday that I was walking in Devon, but Somerset I am indeed in – shock!
Being brutally honest here, it was a bit of a tough morning this morning. I seemed to cry on and off for at least the first hour. Not sure what caused it. Maybe talking to the lady on reception this morning about Sarah and the girls? Maybe walking along the canal thinking how much mum and dad would have loved to have walked that stretch? Maybe I was still very tired? Maybe a combination of them all? I don’t know. All I know is I struggled to keep the tears at bay for quite some time. I’m ok now. Some times I just have to let it all out, a kind of release valve, and I guess this morning was it.
Not wanting to end today’s post on a down note, there’s something I meant to write about yesterday but forgot to. A friend of mine wrote something on Facebook that really hit home. She wrote: life is full of victory, hope and a new day. Reading that the other day made me smile when I was feeling a little poo and made me want to take the day by the scruff of the neck and roll with the punches. What better way to look at life than that?
I will try every day to remember that line. Every day of the walk is a small victory for me, covering yet more miles without completely falling apart, pushing myself beyond anything I thought I was ever capable of. I have to believe that there is hope for me after this adventure and that the very fact that I’m doing it is shaping my future in ways I’ve yet to see or understand.
And on that note I’ll say goodbye for today. One more day’s walking and then a day off…hurrah!