Gloucester to Tewkesbury
Not wanting to eat at the Station Hotel again, with their microwaved food, I thought I’d venture out last night to try and see if I could find somewhere nicer to dine out. I must admit, my stroll round town earlier hadn’t highlighted anywhere but I was hopeful that there had to be at least one restaurant worth going to in Gloucester.
After walking the entire length of the high street and almost out of town I came across an Italian restaurant that looked as though I wouldn’t die from food poisoning the moment I stepped through the door. This being the best the place obviously had to offer I went in and had a very nice meal as it goes.
Knowing that I was walking today I ate up and made my way back to my room to start getting all my stuff together.
I watched a bit of TV and then tried to get to sleep. And tried. And tried. And tried some more. I just couldn’t get to sleep again, something that is fast beginning to really wind me up.
Clearly I dropped off some time during the night as I awoke at 5:30am – doh! I lied there for about an hour and then started, slowly, to get myself ready for the day’s walk.
The Station Hotel has a sign outside. In fact, it has a lot of signs outside about this sort of night or that sort of night, but the sign that took my notice as I walked back last night was the one that said “Best breakfast in town”. At that point I couldn’t confirm nor deny that statement as I’d skipped breakfast yesterday, preferring to have an easy morning in bed. This morning though I did have their breakfast and if that’s the best breakfast in town then there’s a lot more wrong with Gloucester than I first thought! It wasn’t great that’s for sure. I really was beginning to have a big dislike for this city.
Breakfast eaten – quickly – I went back upstairs, put my pack on and got the hell out of Dodge!
Fortunately, twenty minutes of walking and I was on the Severn Way path walking along the river Severn, away from Gloucester! I say walking along the river Severn but for a lot of the first hour it was hard to tell as there was only the occasional glimpse of the river due to trees, stinging nettles and weeds. Still, it was nice to no longer be in Gloucester and out in the countryside again so I was happy.
The path for the first part of the morning wasn’t too bad. Clearly someone had gone along it with a strimmer and cleared a way through, which was good as it would have been impossible to get through otherwise.
This lasted until I was skirting round Sandhurst when it turned in to open field, which meant more grass. For the most this wasn’t too bad but it still dragged at my feet and walking poles making it harder going than it looked on paper.
Just past a conservation area, which incidentally had slightly worse paths to deal with, clearly in the name of conservation, I made my way through a field, came to a style (one of the million or so I ended up climbing over today) and the path just disappeared into a mess of grass, weeds and stinging nettles. This was not good.
Fortunately, because of the weather I was in my long trousers and I had my fleece on too, so I put my gaiters on, climbed the style and went for it – what else could I do? I was a little concerned at one point when the stinging nettles were taller than I was (no, that wasn’t an invite to take the Mickey out my height thank you!) but I made it through…to end up in yet another field of long grass, nowhere near as long as I’d just struggled through which was a blessing I suppose?
Making my way towards the woods at Sandhust Hill I came across a field of cows, some of which were trying to get jiggy with it. After my last cow disturbance I wasn’t happy, but I had to go through the field. As has happened with pretty much every field of cows I’ve had to cross, the cows started to herd towards me. This always makes me feel slightly uneasy and I’m glad I had my walking poles to hand just in case. They weren’t needed though as I hastily made my way to the other side.
Safely through that field I headed towards the woods. About half way in I turned round to look behind me and what did I see? The bloody cows had followed me in to the other field as there wasn’t a gate to stop them. I’d gone over a style a little way down the fence so I’d not noticed this fact. This spurred me on to reach the woods and make good my escape.
Walking through the woods was nice but by this point I was beginning to feel the extra effort from walking through all the long grass and was ready for a break. Checking the map I spotted a “PH” sign just the other side of the woods, next to a campsite – brilliant! An early lunch, rest my feet and finish the day’s walk nice and early.
Shockingly, at 11:45am the pub wasn’t open and some of the “not so happy” campers were beginning to sit outside waiting for opening time. I assumed this meant that it would open at midday so, checking the map again, I spotted another “PH” sign about a mile away and decided that I’d walk to that one instead of just sitting around for fifteen minutes.
This, as it turns out, was a great decision as the Hawbridge Inn was a great little pub. Again, it had a campsite out the back but the food was great, the bar staff were very pleasant on the eye and it was right on the river. I had a very nice forty minutes resting there that’s for sure.
With only four miles to go, and now rested, I pushed on to get to Tewkesbury sooner rather than later. More grassy fields and a trudge up a road to get in to Tewkesbury I made it to the Bell Hotel by about 2:30pm. Not a bad time considering all the long grass I had to fight my way through ad all the styles I had to clamber over.
Seeing as it was early, and my room was still being sorted out, I dumped my stuff in the room, changed in to my other shoes and took a walk round. The town was full of life with a fete at the Abbey and some “healthy living in Tewkesbury” thing going on at the playing field down the road.
As it was just across the road I headed to the Abbey to have a look round. I love looking around old churches, cathedrals and abbeys and Tewkesbury Abbey is definitely worth visiting if you like that sort of thing. It was full of life today with lots of stalls in it and people bustling around. It made a change to visit somewhere like that and it not be almost completely silent.
While walking round I came to one of many stands where you can light a candle for remembrance, so I paid my money and lit a candle in memory of mum and dad. There were some seats there so I sat down for a few quiet moments, trying to force the tears back – and not doing a very good job of it if I’m honest.
An old guy, clearly connected with the Abbey, came over and sat next to me and we started chatting. I spoke about mum and dad and having lit the candle and he spoke about losing his parents in about the same timeframe, clearly they were a lot older than mum and dad though. He mentioned that people sometimes write prayers on the slips of paper next to the candle stand. These prayers are then said at evensong that day so, after shaking his hand and thanking him for the chat, I wrote a little prayer for mum and dad and carried on my tour of the Abbey. I don’t really go in for that sort of thing but this felt right you know?
After the Abbey I took a stroll up the high street, again bustling with life. It was lined with a good number of old timber-framed buildings amongst the newer shops and buildings. It was nice, even with the main road running through the middle of it, which had quite a lot of traffic on it. I had reason for the stroll as I needed to find a shop to buy some more shower gel as I’d left mine behind the other day at one of my stop-offs. Since then I’d been using the free stuff in the places I’d been staying at, which weren’t good, so I needed to get my own again and fast. I’m pleased to say that I found a Somerfield and replenished my shower gel supply…hurrah!
Ready for a shower I made my way back to my room to clean myself up and wait to speak to the girls, which as it happens ended up being a complete failure. For some unknown reason, even with a full signal, my phone decided not to deliver a couple of texts from Sarah or to let me know there was a voice mail message from her. Because of this I didn’t know that they’d made it home from their day out and never got to speak to Alice and Elisa as, by the time I realised something must be up, they’d already gone to bed. Not good! While having my dinner my phone then decided to deliver all texts and voice mail messages…very frustrating!
Dinner was nice though. I had a steak and blue cheese salad with a nice pint of ale. All very nice indeed. I didn’t drink any more after that – I’d had a pint before my stroll round town – as I’ve got a longer day tomorrow and I don’t want to be doing that with any hint of hang over or dehydration.
One nice surprise today was receiving an email from one of the guys – Ross – I’d met on the way to Porthleven, and stayed at the same B & B with, what now seems such a long time ago. He’d contacted me through the website and wanted to know how I was getting on and, if at all possible, would like to walk with me when I hit the Dales some time. It was great to hear from him and it’d be great to walk with him and his pals as clearly they know that area quite well.
Two things I’ve learnt today: firstly, early morning walks along a tree-lined river path means walking through lots of spider’s webs; and secondly, river + long grass + warmer weather = lots of midges! They got extremely annoying as the afternoon went on I can tell you. I guess they were nothing to what I can expect in Scotland but still, walking through a swarm of hundreds of midges isn’t pleasant.