Taunton to Street
Knowing I had a long day ahead of me I was up and about early this morning, even before my alarm went off at 7am. All packed I was sat eating break by 7:30am, unfortunately it wasn’t the best breakfast I’ve had on this little adventure so far. As I’d not had breakfast the day before, due to lazing in my bed for far too long, I was a little disappointed, especially when you consider the cost of the place – £70 a night for bed and breakfast is not cheap and I expected better. Overall Blorenge House wasn’t too bad, the room was perfectly serviceable and the en-suite looked pretty new but I still wouldn’t say it was completely worth the asking price for a night.
I was in the road by 8:10am with the sun already threatening to get quite hot. When I checked the weather this morning they reckoned it was going to be hot but overcast, which was fine by me. As long as there was some cloud cover I’d be ok. The way the sun was when I left I wasn’t so sure that they’d got it right.
The start of today’s walk, once I’d left the busy streets of Taunton, was on the Bridgewater and Taunton canal. It wasn’t long before people started to say “hello” as they passed on their bikes or out strolling; sorely missed during my time in Taunton.
All too soon I’d reached Creech St. Michael and it was time to say goodbye to the canal and walk along the river Tone again. Before reaching the river I walk past the church in Creech St. Michael and I took a couple of minutes to have a look. One thing that I found a little strange was the sight of a set of stocks, old stocks, in the churchyard. They didn’t have a plaque or anything by them so I have no idea how old they were but it seemed a little weird having them there.
Reaching the path by the river I came across another one of those “here’s some information for you” notices and along with the usual “you can see [insert animal/bird here] along the river” information it had a bit about the Taunton Stop Line. Built in 1940, the Stop Line was designed as a defence against German tanks should the South West peninsula ever be invaded during the war. It was hoped it would delay the invaders long enough for reinforcements to arrive. The line ran for nearly fifty miles and consisted of over 300 pillboxes, various other munitions, anti-tank ditches and trenches. At Creech St. Michael the line went straight through the village.
After having the pleasure of walking along a well-kept towpath for a few miles this morning, the path along the Tone was a bit of a departure. It didn’t look like it got used that much and the grass started to drag at my ankles, making the walk a little bit laboured. If hat wasn’t bad enough, the little shade that I’d had along the canal was now no more. There was nothing to stop the sun beating down on me, and it was now becoming very hot indeed.
A little way along the river, at Ham, the path took me through the village. It was a lovely little place but one thing that interested me was a little suspension bridge called Ham Ramp. It was quite an impressive bridge for what is a very small village.
The river Tone runs through a huge area of wetlands, watered by straight irrigation channels that feed off the river. Walking along this very long stretch of the walk was tough going. It was almost impossible to get in to a good stride as every fifty yards or so there was a gate to go through or a style to get over. If that wasn’t enough to make it tough going, the grass got longer too.
Fortunately there was a little break from the long grass and that came at Middlezoy, or more to the point the George Inn! As I struggled through the door a few lads looked at me and one said “blimey, you make me feel knackered just looking at you!” to which I laughed and made my way to the bar.
Standing there waiting to be served, pack still on, Graeme – the landlord – said to me in his South African accent “You can take the bag off and sit down you know?”. I did exactly that and ordered an orange juice and lemonade. Bless him, as well as the drink I’d ordered he gave me a pint of iced water, clearly seeing that I was a little bit on the thirsty side.
Sitting there minding my own business, trying to catch up with myself and rest my feet, a lady sat at the bar just along from me. After a bit of chat with Graeme she – Lynn as I later found out – asked where I was walking to and again I was in the middle of the LEJOG walk conversation. We chatted for quite a while, along with Graeme every now and then, when she asked if I had a website. I told them what it was and they both thought it was a great name – I knew I’d hit on a winner when I came up with it at the end of last year.
Drink drunk I started to get my bits together when Lynn handed me a fiver to go towards my sponsorship. It still amazes me how generous people can be. I don’t think that will stop as long as this trip lasts.
And so it was back to the hot road again which unfortunately meant a stint walking up the busy A361. This was a horrible part of the walk, dodging to the side of the road, as far over as I could get, avoiding the speeding oncoming traffic. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when that was over only to be greeted by my long grass on the next stretch of path. I say path but where I was walking couldn’t be called a path at all as there was no path.
If that wasn’t bad enough clearly the farmer who owned the land didn’t really want too many people walking along the “path”, making some of the styles difficult to cross and in some cases just having a rotting piece of fence to climb over…that was also bound with barbed wire! Interesting to say the least.
I can’t tell you how difficult the grass made today’s walk. When it’s up to – or even over – your knees, it’s like wading through water making progress slow, heavy work.
I pretty much switched off for the remainder of the walk, concentrating on taking another step and not giving up. Apologies to anyone who sent me an email, text or commented on Facebook and then got ignored. It was nothing personal, I just needed to get my game face on, grit my teeth and make it through the final miles.
With six miles or so to go I had just about had enough of it all – the sun, the grass, the pain in my feet – and I could have happily just sat there and not moved…ever…again! I was exhausted but I knew I had to reach Street as the room was booked and, let’s be honest, spending the night next to a field of cows wasn’t really my idea of fun.
I made it in the end, arms burnt from the sun, water supply depleted and in absolute agony. It looked like the universe had again conspired to make an already long day even harder, but just like last time, I made it and I guess that’s the main thing?
I checked in at the Bear Inn and was shown to my room. Unfortunately it wasn’t actually in the pub but 100 yards up the road – doh! I thought booking in to the pub would mean I’d be able to go downstairs to the bar for food and beer in my socks…no such luck. What the room did have though was a jacuzzi bath! I can’t tell you how nice it was to clamber in there and get those water jets on and soothing my aches and pains. I think it should be law that all B & B and hotel rooms should have jacuzzi baths!!
And that, as they say it that. I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring or whether my right foot will have recovered enough to walk on it again. We’ll see. I’d best get this posted and off to sleep as it’s really late now, in fact I can’t believe how late it is – I’ve been working on this for hours!