14th April 2018
Weather:Blue sky leaving Roadwater, heading towards a fog-covered Quantock Hills. Mist clearing hilltops by 11.30, clearing further to give a sunny afternoon.
I told Mark B that today’s long stretch would be a challenging 12-hour day. The only way to tackle this was to start early: I was on the road just before 7am, and mentally planned three 12km sections. I took 13 hours.
The first stretch to Bicknoller, took me to 10.30 without a rest-stop. Plenty of photo-faff stops: first admiring the sparkling dew of sunrise; then the mist-filled valleys; the sun shining through cloud & mist silhouetting trees.
Tricky finding the exit gate out of this field
My picture of the day I think (only the blue spot, lens flare, spoils it)
This one is for Mark C who groaned at the idea of a blog “full of selfies I suppose”:
The owners of this house had the footpath diverted from walking in front of their castle, to a soggy muddy walk past a guard-horse.
I felt disappointed not to see the Quantock Hills across the valley as I approached.
A longish sit on a bench at 10.30 and a second attempt at the “breakfast” ham & cheese sandwiches. Hobbit-like on a second breakfast I also tucked into (and rediscovered a liking for) garibaldi biscuits and Club biscuits.
A quick diversion to view Bicknoller church
Yes, it does say “Jellalabad”
There was a crooked house
The hill mist fizzled away as I ascended from Bicknoller.
A few ‘runners’ marched up the hill passing me.
Chatting with a young marshal (hoodie logo “obey”) at a high point, I learned the event was a “Maverick Race”
Phil Wilkinson, from Roadwater, was doing his own running. I think he said The Quantocks was “God’s own country”, or similar words of deep appreciation of these hills.
It was certainly popular with DoE participants. I must have seen five different groups in the Crowcombe Park Gate area.
[Only 6km since the previous refuelling stop, on Black Hill I had another attempt at the sandwiches and biscuits.]
A DoE assessor told me that I could tell which was her group as they all had “identically coloured rucksacks”. I believe I saw them later, (bright green rucksack covers) heading downhill off the Drove road,
instead of directly to Crowcombe Gate, where their assessor was waiting. I wondered if they were all, identically, heading in the wrong direction.
The Drove Road was a long, wide path edged with large straggly trees,
Looking back at the Quantocks escarpment (NW) just before Wills Neck
The Drove Road ending at the foot of Lydeard Hill, guarded by ponies.
Just below Lydeard marked another 12km stage and a change of scenery to grassy fields with distant views towards the Somerset levels.
I ate the last of the breakfast sandwiches at 3pm & drank the last of my water, hoping for a pub or tea shop at Enmore. There were hazards to negotiate first, a successful crossing enacted by grabbing the top rail and shuffling feet along the bottom.
Here’s a mummy & daddy to be proud of
I have been learning a few things about map interpretation. This really does mean that the footpath runs in the river
Whose paws made these tracks?
The Somerset levels came plainly into view
The huge block of a building I assumed was a nuclear power plant, I later found was Hinckley Point – EDFs development there having significant impact on local accommodation.
A long road stretch, through Enmore, I didn’t have time for a diversion to look,
also marked on the map as a castle
but, as the pub was closed, I did help myself to water from someone’s outdoor tap.
Then along lanes to Goathurst,
and onto a long stretch of wetland, partly abandoned by whoever is responsible for maintaining footpaths (yes, that’s a bridge with holes in it)
Two fences across the footpath, with only a rickety gate right at the water bank as a way out. Then a farm with multiple obstructions (rubble, pig sty full of small pigs, sheep, geese, mud and aggressive dog). But this was at the fag end of the day.
New buildings right up to the edge of marshland you couldn’t possibly build on. So let’s call it an Eco-Park
From the delight of the morning sun to its evening beauty
I turned off my track-recording of the third section at 14km and presented my unshaven, backpack-wearing, mud-spattered-trousered, muddy-booted, self, walking poles in hand, at the Green Olive restaurant asking if they had “space in the corner for a scruffy one”. I was directed to a table outside but cheerfully served.
pavement life is so perfect for April evenings in England
Three map sections today, including typo.