Sunday, 12 August 2018

LEJOG Days 14 to 19 - Wiveliscombe to Abergavenny

Day 14 - Wiveliscombe to Bridgwater

Having broken my glasses in the bnb in Wiveliscombe, I had travelled to Newton Abbot after meeting my wife en-route. We were spending a few days with our friends Chris and Harry who had kindly invited us to stay with them. This gave me the chance to collect replacement glasses and new trail shoes my wife had brought with her, and also to take the opportunity for a break from the trials I had experienced so far. After a few days rest and relaxation with Ann at our friends, I returned to Wiveliscombe, scene of the broken glasses. After an incident packed trip, which involved being delayed by the discovery of a dead body in Taunton bus station, I eventually arrived back at the village where I had stopped walking a few days earlier and set off for Bridgwater. I was meeting my wife there as we had a room booked in an hotel. The walking was largely forgettable and mostly consisted of walking totally deserted, tiny rural lanes. The exception to this was the climb over the Quantock Hills where I had some  beautiful views from my elevated position. The walk ended with a tedious slog along country lanes and through estates into Bridgwater. 34.5k/21.5 miles

 Day 15 - Bridgwater to Cheddar 

I started walking late today as I went to the station to see Ann off as she was going to visit our good friends Cris and Jeremy in Birmingham. The whole day was fairly tedious road walking on mostly deserted country lanes again. The exception to this came near the end of the day when I had to negotiate a fast, dangerous  'B' road into Cheddar. Once there, I located the campsite and pitched my tent and headed out to a local pub for dinner. 33.5k/21 miles

Day 16 - Cheddar to Barrow Common

Today was to be a new experience for me on my walk as I was being joined by my friend Mike, who lived in the nearby village of Winscombe. We met at 7.30 by the church in the village and drove to Mike's friend's house who lived nearby. We left Mike's car here and I took the opportunity to unload some of my gear from my rucksack. We were returning later as Mike and his wife Jacqui had kindly invited me to stay the night at their house. The walk started with a road walk through Cheddar Gorge which was really spectacular.  Later,  we reached the summit of Beacon Batch, the highest point of the Mendips.  The views were stunning and we could see across to Wales, the next destination on my journey. After walking around 17 miles we reached Barrow Common, the end of the days walking and retired to a pub and relaxed as we awaited Jacqui who picked us up and returned us to Mike's car in Cheddar. Once back at their house in Winscombe, I was spoilt with beer and a wonderful dinner. I even got my dirty clothes laundered! 26.2k/16.3 miles

Day 17 - Barrow Common to Chepstow 

Reinvigorated from my day walking with Mike, I started walking again from the pub we had finished the previous day.  Mike very kindly made me breakfast and dropped me back at the pub for 7.30am. The walk started well as I followed the Monarch's Way, which made navigation fairly easy as the walk was well signposted. Soon however, it started raining. Then it really started raining. For around an hour and a half, it bucketed down! Physically, I felt better than I had on the entire walk and I was simply flying along. Unfortunately, this became literal as I walked along a busy 'B' road to shorten the walk by a couple of miles, the wide verge I was walking along became a little overgrown  and my foot caught in a bramble and I went flying headlong into the wet grass and mud! Having recovered my dignity, I soldiered on as the rain became heavier. As I approached the Clifton suspension bridge, it was torrential. As I followed the busy road heading for the bridge, the rain eased and I managed to take a couple of photos. Eventually, I left the really busy road alongside the river and headed through some housing developments to pick up the Severn Way. Now, I had two impressive bridges in view, the M4 bridge and the Severn road bridge. It was the second of these that I was headed for as this was my entry into Wales and the town of Chepstow. I marched across the bridge feeling quite high that I had made it this far in one day. This was short lived however as a frustrating search for the campsite marked on the OS map proved fruitless. Another phantom campsite! Returning to the centre of Chepstow, my attempts at securing a room proved fruitless and I walked out of town past Chepstow castle on the Wye Valley Trail and pitched my tent  in the woods and soon fell asleep to the sound of screeching adolescents who appeared to be staying at a nearby summer camp. I had walked 54.6k/34 miles

LEJOG Day 18 -  Chepstow to Monmouth

I awoke just before 6am and was packed and ready to go by 6.30. I set off on the Wye Valley Trail and was soon presented with a stunning view of Chepstow Castle and the River Wye with the Severn road bridge in the background. Although the trail passed through beautiful woodland, there were only two views on the whole walk to Tintern. There were superb views of the ruins of Tintern Abbey as I entered the village and after taking some photos, I located a cafe for breakfast. After a leisurely break I headed off into the hills following the Offas Dyke path where for the next few miles I was joined by dozens of walkers doing the Wye Valley Challenge Walk. After walking in a procession for some miles, my patience ran out and I changed my route and headed for the banks of the River Wye. Later, towards the end of the walk, I encountered the challenge walkers once more and as I approached the checkpoint, gratefully accepted the jellybabies on offer but had to explain to a female steward that as I was not part of the event, I didn't need my 'barcode read'. I set up camp in Monmouth just before the heavens opened and sought out the nearest pub for dinner. 32.1k/20 miles

Monmouth to Abergavenny

The night in the campsite in Monmouth was a very wet one and it was still raining the next morning with low grey cloud drifting across the hills. Because my tent was saturated and  most of my electrical devices required charging, I booked a room in Abergavenny and packed up in the handy wooden gazebo next to my tent. The walk itself was a wet trudge following the Offas Dyke path through farmland and was mostly forgettable. Eventually, I left the trail for a seven kilometre slog along a quiet 'b' road, which seemed to go on for far too long. Once in the town, I checked into the hotel and after cleaning up, went for a stroll around the centre to locate a large hostel we had stayed at on a walking trip with our local Ramblers group twenty two years before. When I located the building, it was boarded up and was for sale at auction. 24.3k/15.1 miles Cumulative 585.6k/366 miles

The Quantock Hills

Mike in Cheddar Gorge 

On the summit of the Mendips Hills

Clifton Suspension bridge 

M4 Bridge across the Severn

Chepstow castle 

River Wye 

Tintern Abbey

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