Day 23

Jun 3, 2010Week 4

Bewdley to Wolverhampton

A fter posting yesterday’s blog update, while watching trash TV, I remembered something from yesterday that I’d omitted from the update that is worthy of mention. Halfway through the final few miles to Bewdley I was walking along, listen to my iPod, when for some unknown reason I just said out loud “This is crazy!” and started to laugh, not able to stop myself. I just laughed and laughed and laughed, and if anyone had been around I think they might have thought I was a complete nut-job!?

I guess the sun might have gotten to me yesterday or something but looking back on it it is quite funny.

Ok now that that’s out of the way, back to today…

I hit the trail slightly earlier this morning knowing that today’s walk was a bit further than yesterdays, that and the fact that it was supposed to be hotter today so earlier started, earlier finished.

I made my way over the bridge at Bewdley and picked up the Severn Way again. Even though it was going to be hot I started the day with my full length trousers on and my gaiters. I didn’t trust the Severn Way after previous days and thought it wise to prepare for the worse.

Not too far in to the day’s walk I came across an old couple with all their walking gear on, looking like they were out for a serious walk. We started to chat and would you believe it they too were doing the LEJOG walk?! From the sounds of things we’d pretty much followed the same path from Land’s End up to that point but shortly we would take different directions. They were pretty impressed by how quickly – relatively speaking – I’d managed to get where we were as they were taking a more gentle pace, doing twelve miles or less a day, except for yesterday’s seventeen or so miles.

They were doing the walk for their retirement if you can believe that? Personally I could think of a lot more relaxing ways to start your retirement but different strokes and all that.

We said goodbye and I marched off, leaving them behind.

Fortunately, the Severn Way path wasn’t too bad today so I made good time to Arley, where I waved goodbye to the river Severn and the Severn Way. To be honest, after some of the walking along that path this week I was almost glad to be seeing the back of it.

Knowing that I had quite a bit of road walking ahead I decided that the gaiters and long trousers were no longer needed. So, I took my pack off by the footbridge in Arley – there was a bench there – took my boots off, then the gaiters and finally zipped off the bottom of my trousers. Trying to be sensible in the sun this time I put on some sun cream on my arms, legs and face and also put my scarf on to protect the back of my neck; it wasn’t like it was going to make me any hotter now was it? The sun was already roasting hot and the added protection to my neck would be well worth it.

As I’d already covered a good four miles I thought I’d take a little break and sat there with my boots off for a bit. While I was sitting there, contemplating whether or not to go into the shop to buy an ice cream, a lady walked by. We said good morning and then started to chat for a bit. Pat used to be a member of a mountain rescue team in her earlier years and when she was sixty she walked 100km of the Great Wall of China. Impressive!

We talked about my LEJOG walk and that I was doing it for the British Heart Foundation and without hesitating she reached in to her purse and pulled out a ten pound note. She used to do a lot of work for the BHF and was more than happy to help with my fundraising. Again, the generosity of some of the people I’ve met along the path has completely blown me away.

I swear, if Pat didn’t have a bus to catch we would probably still be there now, chatting away. She was a lovely lady and even offered me lodgings next time I’m in the area. She said “Just ask anyone where I am, they all know Pat”!

Boots and pack back on I made my way up the hill out of Arley, passing Pat at the bus stop, again thanking her for her generosity.

The next few miles up to Romsley were pretty tough. There was no shade from the sun and the route was pretty much all up hill. I passed a pub along the way but it was far too early for it to be open unfortunately.

As the going had been so tough I took an early lunch sat on a fallen tree in the shade just past Hartsgreen. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt on this walk it’s that there aren’t many places to just stop and sit on the routes that take me along all the little lanes. So, when an opportunity like the fallen tree some along it’s best to take them.

Feet rested and belly fed I carried on my way, immediately not being able to find the path I was supposed to be through the farmer’s land. It was supposed to go through a little wood but not being able to find any way of getting in there short of jumping over a fence, I decided to walk round the wood to see if I could pick it up on the other side. I did manage to find the right path on the other side but it was clear when I got there that the original path – marked on the map – was no more, as there was absolutely no way you’d be able to get through the wood in the direction the path was supposed to be. I don’t know.

By this point in the day I’d still not managed to secure a bed for the night in Pattingham. This was worrying as I’d only found a single bed and breakfast in the village and, as they were full, I was doubtful I’d find anywhere else. What to do?

Fortunately I looked at the map and just up the road was a pub. It was a minor diversion from the day’s route but it would allow me to take the weight off, have a nice cold drink and check out my maps for alternate arrangements. Decision made I headed off to the pub, hoping that it was actually open.

My luck was in and the pub most definitely was open…phew! I went in, ordered and orange juice and lemonade and sat myself down inside. I’d had enough of the sun already and didn’t want to sit in it after having walked in it all morning.

Unsure what to do next I got my map and GPS out and started to look for alternative arrangements. Unfortunately my map didn’t cover much more than the area I was walking in but my GPS did. Boy am I glad I laid out quite a lot of cash for the entire UK 1:50000 map! This meant I could look all around for alternatives – hurrah!

Option 1: carry on along my original planned route and hope that I came across somewhere to stay. The problem with this was that there wasn’t much around Pattingham so I was a bit worried that I’d end up stuck with nowhere to stay, which wouldn’t have been the best thing after a hard day’s walking in the scorching heat.

Option 2: carry on along my original planned route and stop earlier, somewhere like Claverly for example. The problem with this was that there still wasn’t a guarantee that I’d find somewhere to stay and if I did, it would mean a much longer walk to Penkridge, my next stop.

Option 3: take the hit of a longer day today and make my way in to Wolverhampton where I was bound to find somewhere to stay and take a rest day tomorrow to recuperate after a long, hot day’s walking.

I decided on option 3 and while enjoying my nice cold drink I created the new route on my GPS for me to follow. I had a quick chat with the guys at the bar when they became curious as to what I was doing when I struggled my pack back on and then I was off, ten miles ahead of me, having already walked eleven that day!

The new route wasn’t the most interesting and a lot of it I spent dodging speeding vans and lorries, which became quit difficult to do when there was nowhere for me to move out the way to due to the hedges along the side of the lanes. It would seem that the small lanes I chose on my route, being the most direct route to Wolverhampton, were clearly used quite a lot and everyone seemed to drive like a bloody lunatic too, even round all the blind bends. I nearly ended up a hood ornament a few times this afternoon I can tell you.

After leaving the pub, new route in hand, I trudged on through the heat for another four hours before finally getting in to Wolverhampton, well and truly shattered and in desperate need of a shower. I booked in to the Britannia Hotel for two nights and made my way to my room to dump all my gear.

My feet were literally screaming at me and when I checked them out I had two new blisters because of the heat and the miles I’d walked today. I could do without them that’s for sure but I felt better for being in Wolverhampton and not in a B and B in the middle of nowhere. I would now be able to use my day off effectively, getting a hair cut and stocking up on plasters and other supplies.

A tough day all round but, as I’ve said so many times before now, I made it and for that fact I’m very proud of myself. Ok, I’m completely shattered and maybe the extra miles today might not have been the best idea but I’ll rest up for a bit and I’ll be ready for more walking at the weekend.

Oh, before I forget I’d just like to say a massive thank you again to everyone who’s sponsored me. As Steve (Hag) pointed out today, I’m now 75% towards my £2000 target which is just amazing! Thank you. Thank you so much. It makes every painful step worth it. Now, let’s see if we can get the other 25% done before I finish!

Photos and Route Details

I f you want to find out more about this day you can see the photos I took or view the route details.