Binegar to Bath
The time spent at the Horse and Jockey was a tonic to my mood yesterday. When I went back for dinner and some drinks it was great just to sit and shoot the breeze, it just eased the mood away. Well, I suppose a few pints of Thatcher’s Gold cider may have had something to do with it too? Walking back to the B & B I certainly felt the effect of the cider that’s for sure. It was a great evening though and well needed.
As I never made it to my intended destination yesterday, I had a couple of miles extra to make up today. With that in mind I was up and about quite early, slightly thick headed after the cider the night before, but not feeling too bad. Fed and watered and settled up I hit the A37 and made my way to Old Down at 8:40am.
Unlike the A39 yesterday morning the A37 had very little by way of footpath and I was hoping, as it was Sunday morning, that the road would be nice and quiet. It wasn’t too bad but there was more traffic than I would have expected for that time of the morning. It made getting in to my stride slightly awkward especially when a lorry was approaching and I had to stop and move as far over as I could to make sure I didn’t get hit. I was looking forward to getting off the main road and back on to the small lanes.
It didn’t take long to make up the extra distance in to Old Downs and on to the small lanes to take me up and past Midsomer Norton. As I made my way, admiring the landscape, a car came up behind me and as I moved to the side to let it pass it turned out to be one of the guys from the pub the afternoon before. We had a quick chat about where I was heading for today, he wished me luck and then drove off. Great people.
I guess I’ve been lucky the past couple of days in the heat. Although very hot, most of the daily routes have been quite flat. Yes, there have been some hills but a good part of each walk has been ok. Today though was completely different. The majority of the walk was either up or down hill and in the heat – about 28 degrees I think it was – it soon became very draining.
If that wasn’t bad enough, crossing the fields in to Radford to pick up the Limestone Link path there was an unwelcome return of long grass. By this time the sun was high in the sky and the heat was beginning to get very stifling indeed and struggling through the long grass wiped me out again. Once I’d made it through I found a shaded spot, sat on a wall, took my boots off and had my lunch, drinking quite a lot of water. This was tough going indeed so I sat for a good thirty minutes or so before putting the boots back on and hitting the hot path again. Sooner started sooner finished.
The landscape around Bath is extremely hilly. I was actually quite surprised by how many hills there were and this slowed down my progress. By this point I was beginning to struggle with the heat and exhaustion levels. Clearly the last couple of days had taken more out of me than I’d first thought and I was suffering quite badly by now.
If you can remember back a couple of days, when I was walking through the wetlands on my way to Street, I had to deal with some very bad styles and barbed wire covered fences, all on a public path. Today I had a similar experience. Walking along the Limestone Link, across a sign-posted public path, I was almost stopped in my tracks when the path was cut off by a barbed wire fence. The only way to get over it was using the duck-taped foam the farmer had so kindly put round the top line of wire to push it down for you then to step over it. This would have been difficult enough normally as there wasn’t a great deal of give on the wire, but carrying the pack made it almost impossible. Why do they do it?! I swore very loudly after clambering over and carried on on my “merry” way.
As has happened on previous days when I reach that point of almost giving up, I put my head down, gritted my teeth and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. I stopped looking at the scenery and just made sure that I didn’t get lost, to make sure I didn’t do any unwanted additional distance.
Half a mile from Southstoke I left the Limestone Link and made my way along the roads through Combe Down and finally in to Bath, completely and utterly exhausted and with very sore feet.
I wasn’t feeling too good at this point, in fact I felt quite sick. Clearly I’d pushed myself too far over the last few days in the heat wave, but today I unfortunately caught the sun on the back of my neck, even wearing my big hat. I guess that happened when I put my head down going up those hills, exposing my neck, and the heat of the afternoon sun did it’s worst.
Desperate for somewhere to sit in the shade, and not feeling too well discounted going to a pub, I remembered on my visit the other month that there were seats by the bus station. I limped my way there, found a seat in the shade, took my boots off and just sat there, thoroughly shattered!
While sat there, quietly swearing at the pain in my feet, a young lad asked if the seat next to me was free and sat down. We got chatting – he’d just spent the afternoon sat in Victoria Park drinking cider – and again I found myself in the middle of the LEJOG conversation. It always puts a smile on my face when I see people’s initial reaction to the “I’m walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats” statement. It’s normally a combination of shock and disbelief…priceless! We had a really good chat and soon it was time for his bus to leave, taking him back to Frome to play football, something I couldn’t understand doing after spending the afternoon sat in the sun drinking cider?!
I was still sat there when Stu got back from the christening he’d been to. He came and found me and we made our way to his flat, slowly, phoning the girls along the way. It was lovely to hear their voices after the day I’d just had.
We chilled out for a bit, I cleaned myself up and we popped round the corner – literally – for a Thai meal and a few drinks. Another great evening out and just what I needed after a very hard day in the sun.
When we got back, and having watched some junk on the telly, bed beckoned. It was then that Stu realised that his brother hadn’t returned his pump and therefore couldn’t pump up the air bed for me…doh!
So, I ended up with a bed made of the cushions from the sofa. As it happens, when I got in to “bed” it was surprisingly comfortable so I had high hopes that the fact that I was completely wiped out would mean I’d get a good night’s sleep. I guess we’ll see if that happened or not tomorrow?