A Travellerspoint blog

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The History and Planning behind the walk

Three years ago, I was walking My “Big Camino” – 1.000 Miles from my home in Cumbria, North West England to Santiago de Compostela in Spain in aid of Cancer Research and Drug Development.
Since then a lot has happened including having to have a replacement ½ knee because of the damage that I did to mine during the walk (Not that I have any major regrets about doing the walk, just that maybe it wasn’t the brightest idea for a (then) 58 year old !!), I was diagnosed with bladder cancer and two lumps were discovered on a lung, so things looked a little bleak (But as I had already had a cancer in 1975 and the prognosis for that was very poor, I had had 40 years clear and they can’t take that off me), but thankfully now look a lot brighter :-)
Then, my blog that I had be writing for more than 15 years was closed down – VT, the site that I used as a platform being taken over by Trip Advisor and subsequently closed down.
So – I have decided to slowly rewrite my blog on here and start off with the more memorable trips like “My Real Camino” - Rob's 1,000 Mile Walk- Cumbria to Spain
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The Idea
This was my 20th long distance walk in aid of Cancer Research and Drug Development at the Royal Marsden Hospital

In the words of The Proclaimers –“I would walk Five Hundred Miles and I would Walk Five Hundred More”

Roughly Speaking, my first 500 miles was through England and my second through Spain.

Starting off out of my own front door and walking from Gosforth to Wasdale Head then over the Lakeland Fells to Bowness on Windermere where we picked up The Dales Way long distance footpath and followed this to where it intersects The Pennine Way near The Ribbleshead Viaduct. From there we followed this long distance footpath to near where it ended, then walking through Glossop, New Mills, the across to Macclesfield were we picked up, first The Macclesfield Canal, Then The Trent and Mersey Canal to Stafford and from there followed The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal to Stourport on Severn where I picked up The Severn Way and followed that, then up the Avon Gorge to Bristol. From Bristol I crossed The Clifton Suspension Bridge and walked to Wells on a minor road, then through Glastonbury and across Somerset into Devon and finally over Dartmoor to Plymouth where we caught the ferry to Santander
Then once in Spain we walked through Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia following the “Camino Norte” to Santiago de Compostela

Planning
Planning a walk of this magnitude was almost as difficult as actually doing it! So the planning started at the beginning of 2013 with a phone call to The Fund Raising Department at Royal Marsden Hospital telling them of my plans. As usual, they asked me if there was anything that they could do to assist, usually at this point I say “No”, But on this occasion I said yes, & asked them they could try to organise me a support vehicle for the UK part of the walk as well as help me with publicity, they happily agreed to both.
Then the next thing I had to arrange was the Care for my 92 year old Mother (Who at the time I Cared for at home in Cumbria) This ended up with her having a month in Bradbury House, an excellent residential home in our village, this was followed be my cousin Venie taking 2 weeks off work and moving in to look after her, followed by another 2 weeks with Venie still looking after her at home, but also working, so also being helped by other good friends of mine, Christine and Geoff, then finally going back into Bradbury House for the last 3 weeks until I returned home.
Then I had to sort out my eleven weeks off work that I had allocated to walk the route – This turned out to be a lot more problematic than I had envisaged because of “New Rules”, but after using up all my annual leave & eventually being granted a month’s unpaid leave (but accepting that because of this that I would have less leave for next year) I was Finally allowed the time off.
So it was at this stage that I was able to get down to route planning, The Fund Raising Department at R M H had emailed me telling me that a campervan company from Manchester were keen to supply me with the support vehicle, so I was then able to plan my daily stages. I then contacted two of my friends who were interested in joining me for part of the walk, Sid Syrett who would walk from my home in Cumbria as far as Stafford & Stevie Hufton who would join me near Exeter & walk all the way to Santiago de Compostela with me, they organised their own time off work.
I then got on with fine tuning the plan, buying maps and guidebooks for the entire route, organising ferry & flight tickets, I also asked my friends Jim & Jo Blamer who have an outdoor pursuits shop “The Barn Door Shop” in Wasdale if they could help me with kit, I also started a “Just-Giving” Page As well as a Big Walk” Facebook Page & contacted our Local Newspaper, The Whitehaven News as well as Radio Cumbria & asked them for help in spreading the word about my plan.
All went well until I contacted The Fund Raising Department at Royal Marsden Hospital to confirm that the Support Vehicle was still OK (As I hadn’t had direct contact from them) & after some time, they eventually informed me that it had fallen through and there was nothing more that they could do. Obviously this was a huge disappointment as apart from everything else, I had planned the route without regard for accommodation & didn’t have sufficient time to divert off the route to find suitable B & B’s. So with the help of The Whitehaven News as well as Radio Cumbria we put out an appeal, alas no one came forwards with an offer of a vehicle & I was becoming desperate, Until Rod and Barbara who own The Gosforth Hall Hotel kindly offered me the use of their old courtesy bus. So, with help from my friends we converted this, building in bunk beds & a cooking area. The only problem I had now was finding drivers, I again utilised The Whitehaven News as well as Radio Cumbria to try & find some, but alas, again no takers, so I put the word around my friends & family and slowly “Volunteers” came forwards. Another friend of mine, David Moore who owns the local Joiners shop and who had kindly supplied me with some materials to convert the bus put me in touch with The Egremont Rotary Club & Bill Lea the club secretary put in many hours of work contacting Rotarians on my route asking for overnight parking as well as volunteer drivers, I received several kind offers of overnight parking but even on the day Sid & I set off on the walk, I still didn’t have sufficient drivers to get me as far as Plymouth, nor did I have any idea of how we were going to get the courtesy bus back from Devon.

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Day's 1 to 10

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On Saturday 29th March 2014 myself and Sid set off, first popping into Bradbury House to say Goodbye to my Mother (The Staff there kindly gave me an envelope with £42 they had collected from the residents for the charity) and then into The Gosforth Hall for a Coffee and to say Goodbye. Shaun Pennington of Gosforth Taxis kindly gave me £100 towards the diesel for the support vehicle, Chris Himsworth took photos for the web and of we set, Sid, Jo Blamer and myself walking through Wellington where more of my friends were lining the road wishing me good luck. We walked out of the village and along the fell-side towards Wasdale where we were joined by another friend, Kerry Wright for the walk up the valley to Wasdale Head. We met Joss Naylor at Greendale and he wished us luck. The weather was kind to us, it was a fine day and it wasn’t too long until we arrived at The Wasdale Head Inn where our Support Vehicle driver, Ken Trainer had dropped off the bus. The first thing I had was a “Treat” as Kerry Wright had kindly offered to give me a leg massage and her massage table was put up outside The Barn Door Shop and generated quite a crowd of onlookers while Kerry gave me an excellent leg massage. Then we made ourselves a bite to eat in the bus before popping into The Wasdale Head in for a couple of beers and then retiring to bed.

Day 2
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Day 2 dawned bright and clear, we made ourselves some breakfast and a packed lunch before setting off over the fells. We walked past Saint Olaf’s Church, arguably the smallest church in England before heading up Stye Head Pass, Then the long climb past Sprinkling Tarn to up to Esk Hause, Esk Hause was the highest point on the England Section of the walk at 759m and there was snow on it when we passed. Then downhill, past Angle Tarn before a small up and then the Long drop down Rossett Ghyll to Great Langdale. Past The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and then on road and track down to Elterwater. In Elterwater we had kindly been offered overnight parking and use of showers at Stonethwaite, the home of Val and Geoff Sykes, Val being a Rotarian from Windermere Rotary Club. Ken was there waiting for us with the bus, Val was away, but Geoff welcomed us, we showered and then walked to the nearby Britannia Inn where Ken and I had a bar meal (Sid has a wheat intolerance so he would be cooking his own meals in the bus for the duration of the walk) and all three of us took part in the quiz (without any luck) before heading back to the bus to sleep.

Day 3
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After making our breakfasts in the van we said our goodbyes to Geoff and walked out of the village on a nice track which went alongside Elterwater (Lake) to Skelwith Bridge. Unfortunately we had neglected to pick up the OS map for this section and therefore had to “Wing it” a little, we followed a minor road steeply uphill out of Skelwith Bridge heading to Skelwith fold where we were hoping to pick up a footpath that would take us towards Windermere (Lake), however we somehow missed the path and ended up following the minor road to the outskirts of Hawkshead – Here we had little choice but to follow the road alongside Esthwaite Water to Far Sawrey where we picked up a footpath that took us towards Windermere (Lake), and when we eventually arrived there, we took the old chain ferry across the lake to Bowness on Windermere. We met up with Ken there and had a brew in a local cafe before walking to Windermere (town) where I had arranged overnight parking with an old friend, Margaret Goodwin. We were given a warm welcome by Margaret and her husband and after taking a shower they cooked us a lovely dinner before we retired to the van to sleep.

Day 4
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After the usual breakfast in the bus, we said our goodbyes and walked out of Windermere (town) in search of “The Dales Way”, the long distance footpath that we intended following to The Ribbleshead Viaduct. After heading off in a rather large loop, we picked up “The Dales Way” and followed this on some good paths through beautiful countryside as it undulated it’s way to Burnside. We had our lunch there in a picnic area before continuing on, passing to the north of Kendal where we somehow lost the path, so followed some minor roads, crossing the River Mint, then continuing east, again on minor roads through Docker and eventually crossed the M6 where Ken was waiting for us. We made dinner in the bus, washed it down with a beer and had an early night.

Day 5
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After the usual breakfast in the bus we continued on a minor road heading south west past over Firbank Fell and walked past “Fox’s Pulpit” where George Fox addressed a multitude, and this was the start of the Quaker movement, also known as ‘The Society of Friends’. Then we cut across country on a footpath and crossed The River Lune on the outskirts of Sedburgh. Ken met us in the town centre and we made a brew in the van and I bought some pies for Ken and my own lunch (Sid had his gluten free) before we continued, crossing the River Rawthey and entering “The Yorkshire Dales National Park” (Even though we were still in Cumbria) and following the River Dee, past Dent (But on the opposite side of the river) and up through Cowgill to The Sportsman’s Inn. We asked the Landlord if we could park up in his large empty flat car park for the night, explaining that we were doing the walk for cancer research, but he declined our request, so after having a bar meal and a pint, Ken had to drive us back down the valley to find a lay by to park up in for the night.

Day 6
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After the usual breakfast in the bus, Ken dropped us back at The Sportsman’s Inn and we started the long climb out of the valley and up onto the moors, after walking on the road for a few miles we picked up a footpath that took us across the moor and eventually onto the B6255 which we followed to Gearstones. Ken met us here and we had some lunch before cutting across country and eventually picking up “The Pennine Way” which we more or less followed to Newhouses, (Near Horton in Ribbledale) where we had kindly been offered overnight parking and use of the shower by Geoff and Jeanette Davidson. After showering Sid made himself his gluten free dinner and we were then picked up by David Blackburn of Settle Rotary Club and taken to The Boar’s Head in Long Preston. We were given great hospitality and a substantial meal, I then gave the club a short talk and David then gave us a lift back to New Houses to sleep in the bus.

Day 7
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After the usual breakfast in the bus, we said our goodbyes to Geoff and Jeanette and continued south, through Horton in Ribbledale and then back up onto the moors, eventually coming out at Malham Tarn where Ken met us and we had lunch in the van. We then walked around the east side on Malham Tarn and made our way towards Malham, unfortunately we missed the path that would have taken us alongside Malham Cove, so we walked into the village on a minor road. We had kindly been offered overnight parking and use of the shower at Holme Farm in Malham by Brian Jackson. After showering Sid made himself his gluten free dinner in the bus and we went out into Malham and Ken and I had a bar meal at The Buck Inn, then a couple of pints and back to Holme farm and sleep in the bus

Day 8
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After the usual breakfast in the bus and saying good bye to Brian as well as our first driver, Ken, we left Malham and the Path was initially great and followed the river, then we struck away from the river and undulated to Gargrave, we lost the path at one point but soon picked it up, at Gargrave I had a nice hot sandwich from the Co Op and then we continued on a minor road through a small village called Broughton and then started to climb up to the top of Pinshaw Beacon before dropping down into Lothersdale, then another up and over to Cowling where our new driver, Geoff Steele was waiting for us, there was no suitable car parking in the village so we had a couple of pints and a bite to eat in a pub in the centre of town and then drove to a car park High above the town near a monument and slept there for the night

Day 9
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After the usual breakfast in the bus, Geoff dropped us back into Cowling and we stated uphill again and out into some wild moorland, up and down over several tops before meeting up with Geoff by a reservoir for a late lunch, the we continued on, very much up and down crossing several more tops with deep valleys in between before eventually dropping down into a steep sided valley near Hebden Bridge. Here Geoff picked us up and transported us to “The Shepherds Rest” where we kindly bought our diners (and drinks) by Doug and Heather from Todmorden Rotary Club as well as kindly provided showers and overnight car parking by Jan and Roy who own The Shepherds Rest – Excellent Food and Great Hospitality

Day 10
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After the usual breakfast in the bus, we said good bye to Geoff when he dropped us off where he picked us up the day before and we started the day with a stiff pull up out of the steep sided valley up to an impressive monument on the summit of Stoodley Pike, from there we followed a path that more or less contoured over some very wild moorland and crossed a couple of roads As well As the M62 before we met up with Pete Woolley, our new driver for lunch, unfortunately, just after we sighted the van in the distance, the heavens opened and Down the Rains came and we were drenched before getting to the van – So a hot cup of tea and some dry clothes and we were off again, over more moors and eventually Came out on the A62 and we walked down to “The Carriage House” where Bev the landlady and her partner, Simon kindly allowed us to park and myself and Pete came in and Had a pint and ordered our dinners while Sid cooked his usual gluten free meal in the bus before joining us. Good Food, a good crack and then retired back to the bus to sleep

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Day's 11 to 20

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After the usual breakfast in the bus Pete dropped us back to where the Pennine Way crossed the A62 and we set off, Simon had given us a tip of keeping to better paths by leaving the signed route and we did this after the first reservoir, all went well until we crossed the A635 and we couldn’t find where the path continued too – So we set off on a vague Path over the moor into Bog, Bog and more bog, after a couple of hours stumbling around we finally found the official route and made our way over wild open moors, forded swollen rivers and eventually dropped down to Torside Reservoir, had a brew in the van with Pete and continued on the road through Glossop and on towards New Mills before running out of time and having Pete pick us up and drive us to our overnight parking kindly provided by David Thomas, a Rotarian from The Rotary Club of New Mills, Marple and District, we had a great welcome, a cup of tea, a hot shower and then headed out for a meal in a nearby pub before returning to the bus to sleep

Day 12
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As we had got slightly behind schedule we decided to put in a long day across country, so after the usual breakfast in the bus Pete dropped us off back at the Grouse Inn above Glossop where we had finished walking the previous day and we followed the busy road back down towards Hayfield but took a right turn and walked up and over another big hill to cut off a corner, this dropped us into New Mills where we picked up The Peak Forrest Canal for a short distance before heading direct to Macclesfield on The Macclesfield Road, a Very Up and Down road, this eventually crossed the Macclesfield Canal and we followed this to the outskirts of town where Pete picked us up and transported us to the Ryles Arms where he had arranged overnight parking with Charlotte, the manageress, after freshening up we went into the Inn and had an excellent meal before heading to a much needed bed in the “bus”!

Day 13
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An early start and after the usual breakfast in the bus Pete dropped us off back on the canal where he had picked us up the night before and Sid and I stepped out on a wonderfully level path, sometimes a bit muddy, but Luxury in comparison to what we had experienced crossing Saddleworth Moor and we were soon rattling off the miles, in fact we did 15 miles before meeting up with Pete for bacon Butties in the van for lunch at Hall Green before setting off again, we came to the end of the Macclesfield Canal and turned left onto The Trent and Mersey Canal and followed that for a short while before it disappeared into The Hareacre Tunnel and we had to take a complicated route over the top before rejoining the canal and walking as far as Westport lake near Stoke on Trent. Pete picked us up there and transported us to The Newcastle Under Lyme R.U.F.C. where we were met by Elaine from Stoke on Trent Rotary Club who had arranged us parking and showers, Then Julie The Club Steward kindly cooked us an excellent meal, even giving Sid a Gluten meal !! All in all a wonderful welcome !!!

Day 14
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An early start as we wanted to avoid the heavy rush-hour traffic, so we left The Newcastle Under Lyme R.U.F.C. at 06.00 and drove back to Westport Lake in Stoke on Trent and had our breakfast there before starting to walk again. The weather was good and we made good time on the flat tow paths which was just as well as it turned out to be further to Stone that we thought it was going to be. Never the less, we arrived in Stone and were met by the Three Johns of Stone Rotary Club who provided us with wonderful hospitality and a lunch at The Star Inn by the canal. From there we continued following the Trent and Mersey canal to Sandon Lock where we picked up a minor road and walked the remaining 5 ½ miles into Stafford where we were kindly fed a wonderful meal, showered and provided parking for the van by Mina of the Stafford Knott Rotary Club and her husband Bill.

Day 15
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Alas this was when Sid Syrett my trek-mate left and also Pete ended his stint of driving the van, so after an early breakfast and saying good Bye, I set off on my own through Stafford and then picked up The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal after about 4 miles and followed this all day to Cross Green where Dot Coupe, the driver for the next week picked me up. We then drove to Brewood where we had been kindly offered parking, a bed for Dot and showers by Jenny and Chris, Jenny being Bill’s sister who we had met the night before in Stafford. We were given a wonderful welcome and also offered our dinners, which we gratefully accepted. Dot was then kindly offered a bed for the night and I retired to the bus to sleep

Day 16
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Woke up early and after breakfast saying good bye to Jenny and Chris, Dot dropped me back at Cross Green and I continued my walk along the canal towpath – It was another sunny day, but a chilly wind, so my jacket was on and off more times than I remember. Dot met up with me about half way through the day and we had bacon butties in the van before I continued along the towpath as far as Hinksford. Dot walked up the path to meet me and we had a brew in the van before driving a couple of miles to the Kingfisher on the A449, Dot had booked herself a room, so went up to shower and I washed some clothes out in the van and then bought a shandy and took advantage of the Wi-Fi before going into eat at the carvery before retiring to the van

Day 17
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Dot drove me back to the canal and we had our breakfast before I set of walking along the canal towpath, again in glorious sunshine. After 5 miles I reached Kinver where I met up with Brian Young of the Stourport Rotary Club and Conrad Nofer of the Bewdley Rotary Club and they walked with me the 10 miles to Stourport and then showed myself and Dot around before Dot drove us out to Brian house where we had kindly been offered overnight car parking and use of showers. We all went out to eat in a beautiful canal side pub, The Bird in Hand where the food was excellent, the welcome friendly and the prices very reasonable. Then back to Brian and Cath’s house where Dot had kindly been offered a bedroom and I retired to the van.

Day 18
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Woke up at 06.00 and got up soon after and after breakfast took advantage of Brian’s Wi-Fi connection to update this Facebook page and have a bit of a sort out – Brian and Conrad shuttled one car down to Worcester so by the time they had done that we were late setting off and finally left Brian’s House at 09.45 and walked back into Stourport and picked up the path where we had left it the night before. We were now on The Severn Way and more or less followed the river Severn the 12 miles or so into Worcester having a couple of Tea stops along the way. When we arrived in Worcester I made straight for the cathedral where I managed to get my first “Cello” (Rubber stamp) on my Pilgrims Credentials. We then picked up Dot from the van and made our way to BBC Radio Worcester and they said they might contact me tomorrow to help publicise the walk and hopefully get some sponsorship money coming in. Then after saying good bye to Brian (Conrad will again join me the next day) Dot drove me down to Upton on Severn where she had found herself a reasonable priced room and a good car-park with toilets to park the van. After freshening up, I met up with Dot and we had a nice meal in a riverside pub before I retired back to the van to sleep

Day 19
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Day 19 turned out to be both a very productive as well as a very pleasant day, first of all, Dot arrived at the car park at 07.30 for her breakfast, then Konrad arrived 15 minutes later and had a brew before Dot drove us back to Worcester, but before we continued the walk, we went to see The Worcester Post and received a great welcome and the journalist came down and interviewed me, then a photographer came and took pics of all 3 of us, so hopefully they will publish a piece which will help promote the walk They wore good to their word.
Then we started to walk, again following the river Severn and again in glorious warm spring sunshine, at around 11.30, just south of Kempsey, Tami from BBC Radio Worcester rang me and interviewed me on air which will help promote the walk and hopefully get some sponsorship coming in, Personally, I think that this is BBC Community working as it should do as it gave me a chance to publicly thank the Rotary Clubs in the area that had offered me so much help. We then continued the walk and Dot met us in Severn Stoke for a late lunch and presented me with a number plate that she had made up saying “Rob 1000 with the just giving page website link below, a wonderful gift, especially as I had just gone through the 300 mile mark :-) Then myself and Konrad continued the last few miles back into Upton on Severn and we had a brew in the van before saying our good byes. I then popped to the Star Inn where Dot was staying where the landlord had kindly given me permission to have a shower, then we went out to eat in a lovely friendly pub called “The Upton Muggery”, then back to the star to use the Wi-Fi before returning to the bus to sleep.

Day 20
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The wagons in the car park started to leave early so I was up soon after 6, breakfast and bait (Sandwiches) made and walking by 08.00. Another beautiful sunny morning and again following the river Severn, the first landmark was passing under the M50 after about 3 miles, then about another 4 miles and into Tewkesbury where I met up with Dot and we had a look around the Abbey, then had a brew in the van before I continued my walk through some big fields, some at least a mile across, The afternoon clouded over but it remained fine and I passed Haw Bridges and walked another couple of miles to a riverside pub called The Red Lion where Dot was waiting for me, I had another brew before we headed back to Upton upon Severn where Dot had arranged another night at The Star and we knew there was good parking for the van. I will do some washing before grabbing a shower and then we have ordered “Mini Desperate Dan’s” (Cow Pies) back at the Upton Muggery :-)Then back to the bus to sleep

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Day's 21 to 30

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Up at 07.00, had breakfast and Dot arrived after checking out of The Star and had her breakfast then drove me down to the Red Lion, stopping in Tewksbury on the way trough so I could buy a map. I started walking just before 10 and made good time on a nice path which took through Bluebell woods and along the riverbank to just north of Gloucester, I had a little difficulty finding the path after where The Severn River splits into two, but eventually sussed it out. As Gloucester Cathedral looked close, I diverted via there to get a stamp in my Credentials and then walked through the historic docks where “The Oniden Line” was filmed then had more difficulties picking up the path again, but after asking several people directions was put back onto the right track (Gloucester has had a new one way system introduced since my guide-book had been written, well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it) The Path continued alongside the River Severn and I eventually came out on Elmore Lane where Dot was waiting for me. We fist went to The Bell at Frampton upon Severn and asked permission to park the van there tomorrow morning as alas, it was Dot’s Last day driving (She will leave the van there in the morning then catch a bus back to Gloucester and from there a train back to Cumbria) then we drove into the outskirts of Gloucester where dot had found a hotel and we parked the van on an industrial estate close by. After freshening up we then went out for a good meal in a nearby pub and then Dot went back to her hotel and I to the bus to sleep

Day 22
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Very Early alarm call – In fact I was up at 05.00 as the car park we had “Borrowed” in the industrial estate was rapidly filling up with cars, even though it was Easter Saturday !! So I had a brew and gave Dot a knock at 05.30 and we left at 05.45 and were soon back on Elmore Lane where Dot had picked me up the previous afternoon. We had breakfast and said our good bye’s and Dot drove the van to Frampton on Severn where she was catching an early morning bus to Gloucester and from there back to Cumbria by train. There had been a frost and it was a cold start, there was a heavy dew and long grass so a bit damp underfoot. I walked along some lanes for a while, then picked up the path up at Weir Green and walked along the river passing through the hamlet of Elmore Back, then continued along the banks through Epney and eventually crossed a disused canal at Upper Framilode, here I turned left and followed a lane towards Frampton upon Severn but picked up the Gloucester and Shapness Canal just before getting into the village and followed that for a few hundred yards. I found the van in the overspill car-park behind the Bell in Frampton on Severn, had a brew and caught up with my washing before having a walk around the village. Then I went into The Bell for a bar meal and a beer before retiring to the van to sleep

Day 23
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Day 23 dawned grey and cold, I was up at 06.30. bait made and walking for 08.00. I left The Bell and took a convoluted rout into The Gloucester and Sharpness canal and followed this for the morning on a good wide towpath, the morning kept fine but it was cold, so I kept moving, at lunchtime I came to Sharpness and the heavens opened, torrential rain, at the same time I managed to lose the official route as it passed through a new housing estate, on the outskirts of Sharpness I saw a road sign for Berkley and as the route passed through there, I decided to follow the road. In Berkley the rain eased and I asked directions and was told to go down a lane and turn left at “The Salutation” so I did this and the lane meandered its way through tiny hamlets that weren’t in my guidebook and after many miles, sometimes raining and sometimes just drizzle I walked into Oldbury upon Severn. Chris Powers (His father is a friend of Pete’s and he had kindly agreed to meet me for the next few evenings and take me back to the bus so I could drive it to where I finish the days walking, before leaving I asked in The Anchor if I could use their car-park overnight if I came in for a meal and a beer and they said, No Problem. So Chris then took me back to Frampton on Severn and we had a brew in the van before I drove it back to Oldbury upon Severn. I gave Howard and Sally Pearce a ring as they have kindly offered me overnight car parking and use of a shower the next night at their farm in Ingst. Then a quick change and over to The Anchor Inn for dinner and a pint – Steak, Sauté potatoes and veg – An Excellent Meal followed by a welcome bed in the bus

Day 24
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The rain stopped during the night and the morning was fine, sunny and clear, After breakfast I popped around to the Community Shop and bought some milk and buns before setting off. The route took me back alongside the Severn and I followed this to the old Severn bridge where I left The Severn Way and made my way inland to the hamlet of Ingst where Howard and Sally Pearce had kindly agreed to let me park up. Howard is a Rotarian from Thornbury Rotary Club. When I arrived Howard kindly offered to run me back to Oldbury to pick up the van, then when I got back they made me a welcome cup of tea before I had a good shower, I then caught up with my washing and wrote up my diary. Howard then showed me some beef cattle but I tried to sidestep guessing how much he paid for them – Then I was invited in for a wonderful home cooked diner before retiring to the bus and my bed

Day 25
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It rained heavily in the night but thankfully was down to a drizzle when after making my breakfast in the bus, I started my walk from Box Bush farm, Howard had written me up precise instructions on how best to get the 15 miles to The Clifton Suspension Bridge on the route that I chose. First the route took me along narrow lanes, then onto busier roads as I got closer to Bristol, the drizzle stopped and the sun almost came out as I walked along the Portway following the River Avon through The Avon Gorge and up to The Clifton Suspension Bridge, here I left the road and went up over 100 steps and then onto a steep path through the wood which brought me out near the bridge, I then walked over it and back, here unfortunately it started to rain heavily, but I wanted to visit Bristol Cathedral so I ploughed on and it soon faired up. I found the Cathedral and found a verger sign my Credentials. I then rang Chris and he came to collect me, took me back to Box Bush farm to collect the van, then drove in convoy to his home in home, arriving their nicely in time for dinner cooked by Harriet. Chris then gave me his Wi-Fi code so that I could update my blog before retiring to by bed in the bus

Day 26
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Up at 06.00, Breakfast and Bait packed, Chris kindly gave me a lift back to The Clifton Suspension Bridge and I was walking for 08.30, first winding my way out of the Bristol suburbs, through residential and industrial areas and eventually out into open countryside. The weather was OK, overcast with a bit of drizzle now and again, I was more or less heading south and soon came to The Mendip Hills, so my route was considerably up and down, something that I wasn’t used to with all the canal and riverside walking I had been doing for the previous couple of weeks ;-) After the first big up and over,, I passed through Chew Stoke and walked alongside Chew Lake before heading back up again, nearly always on very minor roads with signs always trying to send me left to pick up “A” class roads, all of which I ignored. After about 16 miles I stated looking for a suitable overnight park and several people mentioned a good pub called “The Hunters Lodge” run by a local character called Roger, So I kept going and eventually found the place, but it must have been over 20 miles to get there !! I telephoned Chris and he came and picked me up and it took over an hour to drive back to Portishead to pick up the bus, Chris and Harriet offered me dinner but as I wanted to trade off the overnight parking for a bar meal, I politely declined, had a quick brew and set off back for The Hunters Lodge arriving there around 20.00.I went inside and had a Huge bowl of faggots and peas with gravy and two massive doorsteps of homemade bread – And All for £4.50 !! hid I washed down with a couple of beers and then retired to the van around 10 – Shattered but well fed and content with my days efforts :-)

Day 27
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Again, I woke up at 06.00 and got up soon after, breakfast and bait put up and walking just before 08.00. The route down to Wells was on “The Old Bristol Road” which was just a narrow lane that went steeply downhill to Wells, this was only a couple of miles and I was soon there. I went into the centre of the city to The Cathedral and I have to say that it really Did have the “Wow” factor, I would say that it is the most magnificent cathedral that I have to date seen in the UK !! I managed to get a stamp on my credentials and had a look around before continuing with my walk. After leaving Wells I followed the A39 which was at first OK, unfortunately the pavement ended at the village of Coxley and after that it was a case of hurling myself into the dyke (Hedge) when the oncoming traffic neglected to see me. Thankfully that pavement restarted before I reached Glastonbury and I followed this to a retail park on the outskirts of Street. I bought a cup of tea and had a chat with a guy running a burger van and he suggested that I asked the manager of B&Q if it would be ok to park up in their car-park overnight, this I did and the manager readily agreed. There was a 24 hour Tesco next door, so that was the toilets taken care of and a choice of Subway or Kentucky fried Chicken for dinner. I rang Chris and he kindly picked me up and ran me back to The Hunters Lodge, we had a brew in the van, said our good bye’s (as this was Chris’s last stint ferrying me back to the van after my day’s walking) and I drove back to Street and parked up for the night. It started to rain on the drive, so my timing for the day was Good :-) After doing a bit of shopping I grabbed Chris, the B&Q duty manager and his college Nicola? for a photo opportunity before heading to Subway for a bite to eat and to use their Wi-Fi. Then back to the van and an early night

Day 28
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Up at 06.30, breakfast and bait made and walking at 08.00, Dull overcast day with a little light drizzle, I had decided not to follow my original route through the lanes, but to opt for a slightly longer one on “B” class roads via the ancient Wessex town of Somerton. So, first if all I walked through the centre of Street and picked up the B3151 to Somerton, at first there was a pavement but this soon ran out and the road was very busy, it seemed that it was used as a rat-run so I often had to again take to the dyke (hedge) when manic juggernauts bore down on me at speed – never the less, I arrived in Somerton physically unscathed, but mentally scared, so treated myself to a haircut ;-) I then continued along the same road to Langport and walked along the banks of the infamous River Parrett, the sun came out and I had myself a brew with toast and jam at The River Parrett cafe and the girl there showed me some photos she had taken when the river had caused all the floods. From Langport it was only a couple of miles uphill to Curry Rival, so I sussed out a likely place to park up and as it was still only 3.30 I decided to catch a bus back to between Street and Glastonbury where I had left the bus. Barry (Barry Barber has kindly offered to drive out from Totnes every couple of days to shunt the van along) telephoned me to check on my progress and I said that he needn’t trail all the way from Totness tonight – So the question was, did I take a day off and drive the 60 miles down to Stevie and Julies at Exmouth or .........

Day 29
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Well I opted for the day off – Several reasons, but the main one was that after 29 days of continuous walking, I was well ready for a rest day, also, as I had been able to get the bus back to Glastonbury to pick up the van, to drag Barry 80-something miles just to shunt the van a few miles down the road seamed unreasonable – So I drove down to Stevie and Julies on Friday evening, we went out for a Chinese Meal in Exmouth followed by a couple of pints, I had a good night’s sleep in a warm comfortable bed, a hot shower and charged up the van batteries. Then on Saturday we had a walk around Exmouth this morning then lunch in a seaside cafe – The weather was Wild and Windy but fair, then in the afternoon heavy rain came in so I would have got very wet if I had been walking. I drove the van back to Curry Rival in the late afternoon and went to the local pub and was made very welcome by the Landlord (Another Rob) and was kindly given £5 for the charity by a guy called “Gordy” before heading back to the bus to sleep

Day 30
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Although it rained hard through the night, by the time I had eaten my breakfast and made my bait it had eased down to a drizzle, never the less, I opted for full waterproofs before setting off walking, First of all along the B3168 passing through Hambridge and numerous other hamlets and villages – Sometimes it rained hard and sometimes the sun came out and it got Hot – But I kept going, crossing the main A358 and walking through Broadway and Horton (But not Horton in Ribblesdale) . Then I had a phone from Brian Young, The Rotarian from Stourport-on-Severn and he was in the area (Going to a meeting the next day) so kindly offered to ferry me back to the bus, so I said that this would be great as it would save Barry a Long journey. So we arranged to meet up in Churchinford (Which is about 4 miles further than I had originally planned to walk so as to cut down the miles the next day as it was going to be a long day) So to kill a few miles I took my life in my hands and walked 4 miles along the Busy A303 which wasn’t very pleasant, but it was the most direct route so it saved a lot of time. I then got back to walking on lanes through Bishopswood and eventually walked into Churchinford around 4pm in torrential rain. Brian bought me a brew in the pub and the guys there donated £4 to the charity – Then Brian gave me a lift back to Curry Rival, we picked up the bus and I drove it to Culmstock where Brian was staying in a local Pub “The Culm Valley Inn” which had agreed to let me park up overnight. Brian went to his room and I did some washing and freshened up before meeting him inside, the pub didn’t do food on a Sunday but said that several of them ordered a Chinese for a nearby Take-Away and we were welcome to do the same, so we did so, the only trouble being that it was well after 10 before it turned up, so I had more or less gone past eating by the time it arrived. As soon as I finished my food I retired to the van for some much needed sleep

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Posted by into-thin-air 03:30 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Day's 31 to 37

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Up at 07.00, breakfast and bait made but couldn’t get into hotel to go to toilet (We had arranged this the night before) so had to ask at the local garage to use theirs – Brian then gave me a lift back to Churchinford and I was walking just before 10. Cloudy and overcast but at least not raining – My route took me along lanes back to Clumstock, then through more lanes through Uffculm and eventually over the M5 and into Cullumpton. I arrived there around 4.30pm and sussed out a park for the van, asked around about where to eat and sussed out the public toilets, I then walked to Cullumpton Services on the M5 and waited for Barry, he arrived just after 6 and took me back to Culmstock and I drove the van here to Cullumoton, parked up and went for fish and chips and took them to a local pub who had told me that it was ok to eat the there as there wasn’t any pubs doing food that night – We then had a couple of pints before going back to the van to sleep ;-)

Day 32
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Up just after 6 and a quick breakfast and bait made and Barry and I drove to Crediton in convoy, dropped the van off at the local rugby club and then Barry gave me a lift back to Cullumpton and I was walking just after 8, an overcast but fine morning. I headed out of town south on a B class road but soon turned left onto tiny little lanes and I threaded my way, very much up and down to Silverton, I had a break there and Sarah from The Whitehaven News rang me for an update, She is putting a piece in this week’s paper and I hope that this stimulates my Just-Giving Page as it hasn’t had much action over the past couple of weeks !!! Sarah was as good as her word and put a nice article in The Whitehaven News)
I then continued on tiny lanes and crossed the Exe then started the long climb towards Crediton, still on very tiny lanes. I arrived at 3,30pm and had a brew in the van before and went in search of a place to park with access to toilets, I had a crack with a “Lollypop Man” and he told me to try the local sports centre, on my way there I ran into Stevie who had walked up from Exmouth and who will accompany me all the way to Santiago de Compostela. I went to The Lords Meadow Sports Centre and they said that parking the van wasn’t a problem and offered us use of the showers which I gratefully accepted. So a good shower, washed a few clothes and then we walked into town in search of dinner and internet access and had an excellent and inexpensive meal at the local Wetherspoons before returning to the bus to sleep

Day 33
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We had a slight lay in as it was only a fairly short day of about 16 miles, so up at 7, bait made and walking for around 8.30, straight through the middle of Crediton. past the large impressive church and to the end of the main street where we branched left, initially on a B class road, but after a couple of miles turned left again and onto single track lanes. The day was fine and the sun came out between the clouds now and again, so perfect walking weather. The lanes undulated through rich Devon farmland crossing ridges and plunging into deep valleys, pasing small hamlets and eventually the main A30 road, through a larger village called Cheriton Bishop, then back onto even narrower lanes and deeper valleys, the deepest being the Teign (Flows into the sea at Teignmouth) after this we entered Dartmoor National Park and started to climb steeply up, initially through woodland and eventually out into the open moor before dropping steeply down into a fold in the land where we found Mortonhampstead. We had a brew and a snack, then went looking for suitable overnight parking and found a levelish car park with a public toilet and soon after Barry arrived and took us back to Crediton to pick up the van. By the time we got back, freshened up, it was after 8, so we popped to a local pub for dinner and a couple of beers before returning to the van to sleep

Day 34
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We awoke to rain on the van roof, but by the time we had eaten breakfast and made our bait, it had more or less faired up – We were walking just after 8 and made our way through Mortonhampstead and then steadily up, at first on a B class road through fields and after about 4 miles out onto the open moor. It stated to rain again so I put on full waterproofs and we made our way across Dartmoor. We had a few stops, in Post Bridge we stopped at the pub for a brew and then we continued, past Two Bridges and eventually into Princetown. We went to the visitors centre and were told that the car park behind had toilets that weren’t locked overnight, then went to the Fox Tor cafe and had another brew and asked if we could move the van onto their car park the next day as our plan was to walk to Plymouth tomorrow, spend the night there in a B & B, then visit Plymouth Cathedral, then catch buss’s back to Princetown on Saturday afternoon and then drive the van down to Barry’s at Totness where it will stay until Pete (Who has kindly volunteered to come down and drive it back up to Cumbria) retrieves it.
Barry then arrived and drove us back to Mortonhampstead and I then drove the van back to Princetown. We then went to a local pub “The Plume of Feathers” for our dinners before retiring back to the bus

Day 35
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Up at 06.30, bait made, Breakfast eaten and fridge emptied and walking for just after 8 – Overcast but fine, walked out of Princetown on the same B class road that we walked in on, we were soon back on open moor, slightly undulating but mainly down, after about 5 miles we left the moor and walked through the large village of Yelverton – Here we picked up the West Devon Way which is a nice route into Plymouth, mainly following and old railway line through the Plym Valley – We stayed on this until the outskirts of Plymouth and cut across on another B class road through Mutley and into the city centre, past the railway station to the B & B (The Sydney Guesthouse) that we had booked on the net. It was a long day, almost 20 miles and it was going on for 6 by the time we arrived, so a shower and out to eat, then a trip down memory lane by having a pint on Union Street, then walked down to the Barbican for a few more beers to round the night off, before splashing out on a taxi back to the guesthouse around Midnight

Day 36
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Up at 7.30, had a brew in the room before going down to breakfast, listed as a “Continental” so I was pleased when after the croissant and cornflakes, I was also offered scrambled eggs – We checked out just before 10 and walked to Plymouth Cathedral and then back into the town centre and caught a bus back to Yelverton, had lunch there (Hot Baguette and sprite for the Co-Op) and the caught anther bus up to Princetown and retrieved the van from the Fox Tor Cafe car park, having a quick cup of coffee there before driving to Barry and Julies at Totness – We left the van there until Pete and Mag's, who have kindly offered to collect it and drive in back to Cumbria collects it. Stevie’s Julie then joined us later and we ordered a Chinese carry out and really enjoyed it, washed down with a couple of beers before I retired to the van to sleep, Stevie and Julie having a bedroom after one of Barry and Julies boys had been relocated ;-)

Day 37
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I awoke fairly early and after making myself a brew I started to sort the van out, deciding what to pack for the Spanish leg of the walk and packing by larger rucksack as well as disposing of leftover food and giving the van a general tidy up. Barry then cooked a Leisurely Full English Breakfast that turned out a bit overly leisurely as we were rapidly running out short on time, so he ended up giving myself, Stevie and Julie a ride to Totnes Train Station where we caught the train to Plymouth. We then walked the 2k or so from Plymouth Train Station to The Continental Ferry Port where the large Brittany Ferry, Pont-Avon was waiting. Ferry Ports are much more civilised than airports, check in was very simple, quick with no queues and we were soon in the departure area where there is a small cafe selling more or less normally priced food. We bought a brew and took it out onto the terrace where smoking was permitted and had a bit of a farewell Crack with Julie until boarding was announced. Stevie said his good buys and we boarded – he first thing we did was track down our cabin – We had splashed out on an inside twin en-suite cabin rather than go cheapskate with the uncomfortable reclining seats, so after dropping our packs in the cabin we head for the upper deck to watch preparations for sailing and very soon after, we were leaving Plymouth on a beautiful blue skied spring afternoon. Once we had cleared the harbour, I went and bought my duty Free Tobacco (As we were sailing outside the 3 mile limit we were able to purchase Duty Free, even though we were travelling to Spain, another EEC Country) and then went back to the cabin and had a shower then went to track down Stevie, Once I had done this he went and had his shower while I found a Wi-Fi Hotspot and popped some updates on my Big Walk Facebook page using my new tablet. Stevie then joined me and we went for Dinner in the self service restaurant, beef Stew which was Ok and reasonably priced, we then went to the bar for a couple of pints and watched the onboard “Entertainment” The first female singer was good, she was followed by a magician who was also good, then the final act was a male singer and the kindest thing I could say about him was that he was truly Appalling – Possibly employed to empty the bar ;-) Anyway it worked as we then headed back to our cabin and were gently rocked to sleep by the gentle Atlantic swell.

Day 38 and onwards to Santiago de Compostela – “To Be Continued”

Posted by into-thin-air 08:58 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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