Wales Coast Path: Rhoose to Barry

I love finishing work at 1pm on a Friday, especially when the sun is out, and Yasmin and I have a walk planned. When the first of this year’s good weather arrived last week, we headed to the Vale of Glamorgan.

From Rhoose train station we walked downhill to the coast, and spent some time on the beach looking for fossils. When we didn’t find any we started walking east, past the old cement works and the new housing estate. The route took us gradually uphill and rewarded us with great views over the sea. We passed a sign that informed us that we were at Rhoose Point, the “southernmost point of mainland Wales”. Which it turns out might not be true.

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It says nothing about frisbees…

We enjoyed spotting goldfinches in the tops of trees as we walked through Porthkerry caravan park, which took a surprising amount of time to get through. Exiting through a field we noticed a large metal structure in the opposite corner, and eventually worked out that it was used to guide planes in to Cardiff Airport. Walking down through a wood we heard a plane approaching, and I managed to snap a photo through a gap in the branches. I’m pretty pleased with how it came out, and that it resembles a photo I took of a helicopter in Tintern Abbey over a year ago.

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 At the bottom of the wood we exited the shade onto a long pebble beach that curved around to Barry. I spotted an partial ammonite fossil, which I was pretty chuffed about. As we approached Porthkerry Country Park and its viaduct, I was reminded of coming here years ago and playing pitch and putt golf on a wet day, and watching my brother Jack slip on the waterlogged green and get upset at me for laughing at him. That fond memory kept me smiling for a good while as we continued up an intimidating amount of steps, and through “Cliff Wood” where Yasmin spotted a jay. Exiting the wood we got our first view of Barry in the distance, the Ferris wheel being the standout landmark of the Barry Island skyline, much like Pripyat.

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After descending the hill and perusing the Roman ruins at the bottom briefly, we passed the Knap Gardens and wandered around the headland. At this point we were pretty hungry so we left the coast path just after Parade Gardens, and headed for the Sir Samuel Romilly Wetherspoons near Barry train station. We stuffed our faces and caught one of our trademark “free” trains back to Rhoose, where our car was waiting for us. I felt good that we’d done so much on the weekend and it wasn’t even Saturday yet!

Walked: 20/04/18

Published: 03/05/18

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These two photos share no common elements apart from the sky, yet they are weirdly similar.

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Wales Coast Path: Port Talbot to Briton Ferry

Attempting to make the most out of my 1pm Friday finish, Yasmin and I headed to Briton Ferry and caught a train back to Port Talbot. Here is what unfolded on the short walk.

Before we had even left Port Talbot Parkway station, a young man was arguing loudly with railway staff about being called a “ginger c**t”, an allegation that the staff member vehemently denied. I would have loved nothing more than to watch the outcome of this passionate exchange of opinion, but Yasmin insisted that we press on.

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We walked along dual carriageways paid for with EU money, in a town that voted 56% in favour of Brexit, before turning left at the traffic lights. At the end of a residential street we met the river Afan, and followed it out to its estuary. A secret beach greeted us on a bend in the river before we rounded the corner onto Aberafan beach, the long and lonely sands that stretch all the way to the river Neath’s estuary. We walked down on the sand for the first few hundred yards, before going back up to the top level and watching some surfers. The sun was incredibly bright and low, and bounced off the sea like a mirror to our left as we walked west. It was an effort not to look at the water and be blinded as we made our way along the seafront. A skate park provided brief entertainment, with a few youngsters on scooters getting impressively high jumps and doing tricks. After passing a few care homes, the paved path disappeared and we were once again off-road and onto our preferred duney, non urban path. We cut through the dunes and marram grass, and onto a beach popular with dog walkers that was similar to Sker beach down the coast. Continuing down along the beach we couldn’t believe how close Swansea University’s Bay Campus appeared. It looked as though you could carry on around the bay and walk there in about half an hour, until we got close enough to see the river Neath.

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Notice how the second rainbow’s colours are inverted

The path nudged us inland, across a former industrial site. Dark clouds were gathering to our north and rain was visibly coming down in the distance, creating a pleasant double rainbow. I loved the juxtaposition of the rare and beautiful meteorological phenomenon, with the ugly barbed wire and post industrial rust. Soon we came across a pipeline on stilts, stretching from a factory to the river. The landscape looked picturesque in a dystopian kind of way, so I insisted I climb atop the pipeline and have Yasmin take pictures. It wasn’t easy to climb, with nothing to grip bar rusty bolts. I cut both my hands in the process, and genuinely worried about contracting tetanus for about a fortnight. Still though, the pictures came out nicely.

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I literally toiled, sweat, and bled to make this photo possible

I dismounted my concrete stage as gracefully as I mounted it, and we advanced up the river, before turning right and walking through an industrial estate. We passed the old Brunel dock and read some information from the board next to the square tower. Soon after we were walking underneath the M4 Motorway and into Briton Ferry itself. We left the coast path just before the flyover to Swansea and headed back to the car. It was getting dark and as we walked through the town we realised that everything was soaking, including our car when we got back to it. We were lucky not to have got drenched as I didn’t take my coat. We swapped our walking boots for trainers and left for home, happy to have completed another small county’s coastline in its entirety.

Walked: 16/03/18

Published: 09/04/18

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Wales Coast Path: Ferryside to Kidwelly

One of the interesting things about walking the coast of Wales in sections is returning to a place you left off, and continuing on another day. When Yasmin and I were last (and I suppose first) in Ferryside, we were joined by my mate Kit who walked with us from Carmarthen in late November over a year ago. As we left the sun was setting and the sky was turning a lovely shade of pink. This time around we started off just after noon, on a lovely April day. Having parked up at Kidwelly train station and caught the train in to Ferryside, both of which are request stops. If you don’t flag down the train like a bus or tell the conductor once you are on the train it won’t stop for you. It always amazes me that places like that still exist.

It was nice to be back in Ferryside having been on the other side of the river two days before on our bank holiday jaunt. We walked along with a decent view of Llansteffan castle opposite, and past some expensive looking houses. We passed a man pulling a trailer full of sizable driftwood down the road, presumably to dry out and burn. On a fence opposite someone had made a display out of buoys, nets and the like, seemingly for no other reason than to amuse. The pace of life seemed nice and slow here, and I liked that.

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Buoy oh buoy!

Climbing up a steep muddy bank we got better and better views of the Towy estuary as we were elevated above the trees. We’d soon start heading inland away from the coast. The coast path strays from the sea and cuts the corner toward Kidwelly, most of the rest of the walk was through farmer’s fields and country lanes. Still enjoyable but barely coastal. A number of the fields were sizable, and as we couldn’t see the other side we weren’t certain of where we were supposed to be going. Passing through an isolated farm, I couldn’t help but think that it’d make a great setting for a horror film. Perhaps about a young couple that got lost on the coast path, never to be seen again…

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The next change in the landscape was a wooded valley, where we crossed a river at the bottom and climbed the steep steps out the other side. Had we done this walk in another few weeks or so there would be bluebells everywhere, unfortunately we were a bit too early for them.

At the top of the hill was a small village called Llansaint, a collection of around a hundred or so houses centred on a medieval church that was the approximate halfway point of our walk. Down the road there was an intriguing sign for a garden which had a nice bench in it. It was apparently dedicated to Don Lewis, who from what I can gather was a reverend in Swansea in the late 70s. We took in the view across the estuary. Although it was a hazy day we could clearly see Worms Head at the tip of the Gower peninsula over 12 miles away.

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The lane took us down hill and for a while it was like a river, with water running down both sides.  At the bottom we turned left onto a busier road, and had to walk into oncoming traffic for half a mile before turning off and walking through a nature reserve which was much nicer. Nearing Kidwelly we followed the Gwendraeth Fach river right in to the middle of town, where we crossed it and walked back down the river towards the train station and the car.

Walk complete, we spent some time looking around Kidwelly. One thing I love about the three estuaries area is that each town or village seems to have something that it is most famous for and they vary considerably, from hosting land speed records on the beach, to a celebrated author/playwright.

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Kidwelly has a few things that spring to mind when I think of the town. The Welsh nursery rhyme about a woman selling black sweets, the town’s emblem being a black cat, and the Norman castle for which the town is most famous. It dominates the skyline, and we spend a good while looking around it. The town’s black cat emblem can be see on signposts, football tops and shop names throughout Kidwelly. From the top of the castle we spotted a few black cats, I’m sure the town plays up to its reputation for them, and must have a higher number of black cats than your average town. After seeing all of the castle we headed home from our bank holiday weekend, via Nando’s in Llanelli to refuel after our walk.

Walked: 03/04/18

Published: 06/04/18

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Not Fine on the Green Line

Such was the popularity of my letter of complaint to Megabus  year ago, I felt that I’d write another the next time any such organisation provided me with below par service. As luck would have it Green Line Coaches stepped up to the plate in November. Here is my correspondence with them…


Dearest Green Line Coaches/Arriva,

I do really wish that I did not have to write to you, however I feel that my experience on the evening of Friday last has left me with no other option, and I feel it necessary to air my grievance for my own personal sanity. On the evening of the 24th of November I booked an online ticket with yourselves from Hemel Hempstead to squire me to London Victoria where I would be catching an overnight coach to Rotterdam. I left an ample amount of time to walk to the bus stop at Adeyfield Road with a small leaving party to wave me off on my reasonably priced weekend getaway to South Holland. We arrived early and patiently waited, eagerly anticipating the yellow-green numbers 7, 5 and 8 dawning over the hill like a numerical sun, followed by the rest of the bus (Obviously).

Before I continue, I feel it pertinent to mention that this was past 7pm, long after the sun had descended, at a time of year where idiots are already playing Christmas songs a full lunar cycle before the 25th of December. Temperatures were barely above zero, frost had started to form on the windscreens of cars nearby, our breath hung visibly in the frigid air, and your bus was nowhere in sight.

The unbearable cold reminded me of Leonardo Dicaprio’s Oscar winning performance in The Revenant, which lead me to contemplate (SPOILER ALERT) gutting a horse and crawling inside it to keep warm like Dicaprio does in the film, also like how Han Solo (SPOILER ALERT) did the same to his tauntaun with a lightsaber to stop Luke Skywalker from freezing to death in The Empire Strikes Back. I pondered the feasibility of this, and came to the conclusion that it was highly unlikely that either a horse or a tauntaun would be strolling past anytime soon, tauntauns of course being native only to Hoth, (one of the few places colder than Adeyfield bus stop where I was waiting for your late bus) and horses famously being a fictional creation of George Lucas. The best I could hope for in Hertfordshire would in most likelihood be a deer from which the county gets name, and I feel that slaughtering an innocent sylvan creature just for a few minutes warmth while I waited for your bus to turn up would be a tad excessive and would run the risk of starting my weekend off on the wrong foot. As such I decided against such action, although the amount of time at my disposal was undoubtedly enough to stalk, kill and prepare a deer for accommodation. Also I had no knife to gut said deer as I was to be travelling across international borders, and such a foolish act would surely be more of a hindrance to my travel, far outweighing the likelihood of having to use it to butcher and craft a primitive shelter out of the corpse of a majestic mammal. I also didn’t have a lightsaber upon my person because that would also probably be more of a hindrance to smooth travel than a mere deer gutting blade.

Time passed.

In an effort to prevent boredom my leaving party and I began predicting the speed that passing cars would register on a speed check sign opposite. It was a joyous pursuit with frustration at being off by only 1 mph, and abject jubilation when we estimated correctly. As thrilling as this was I would have rather been on your bus, which still hadn’t turned up.

More time passed.

Our fascination with the speed check sign escalated to running down the road towards it as fast as we could to log the highest speed. My girlfriend clocked 10 mph and I managed to hit 16mph.

As we both did not exceed 30 mph speed limit, we were duly rewarded with a green smiley face for being safe road users. Personally I feel that I could have gone even faster if I was wearing appropriate footwear, had done some warming up/stretching, and was 100% committed mentally to nothing other than hurtling my body toward the radar technology at the end of the road, but at the back of my mind I couldn’t dispel the thought of having to perform a mad dash back across the road to flag down your late bus. As it turned out I could have spent ages on the other side of the road without worrying about your bus turning up, as there wouldn’t be any danger of that for a long time yet. Hindsight has 20/20 vision and all that. Under the circumstances I will take 16 mph.

More time passed.

After waiting considerably longer than most would consider diligent, my desire to not miss my coach to Rotterdam exceeded my estimation that your bus would actually turn up. My leaving party and I walked back around the corner, and I was driven down the hill on the way to the train station. We made a slight detour through town to see if we could spot the 758. As luck would have it my eagle eyed girlfriend spotted it approaching and performed a swift three point turn, allowing me to egress our “hot mustard” (I know) coloured vehicle, and make a mad dash across a busy crossroads to the bus stop.

Had there been a speed check sign between me and the bus stop I’m sure it would have registered a speed far in excess of the aforementioned 16 mph at the top of Adeyfield Road, alas there was no such instrument present, and the speed I obtained running for your tardy bus will forever remain a mystery lost to the ages, though I assure you it was about as fast as one could possibly run while carrying a rucksack filled with a weekends worth of essentials, including three peanut butter sandwiches, five Aldi titan bars, and a cumbersome V for Vendetta graphic novel from Bridgend County Libraries that I did not peruse once all weekend, and regret packing and carrying around Rotterdam for no reason. Live and learn eh…

Between deep recovering breaths I showed my ticket to your unapologetic driver and took my seat, my heart rate slowly returning to normal from the uncertainty and exertion. We finally passed Adeyfield Road where the bus should have been approximately forty five minutes previously, and were then on our way to Victoria. Although I made the Rotterdam bus (barely) I am writing to you to seek recompense for the cold related discomfort, heightened stress levels, and unnecessary petrol consumption caused by Friday’s events, felt not only by myself but my well wishing associates too, who were kind/foolhardy enough to bid me bon voyage.

Keen to hear back from you,

Hywel Jeffrey Matthews.

Further relevant information – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0


Here is their response:

arriva


Again, pleased to have some form of compensation, but no mention of the silliness of the email. I don’t actually live near any Arriva bus routes by the way, so I posted them to Yasmin’s Mum, who suffered with me on that November night at the bus stop, who will hopefully put them to good use.

Wales Coast Path: Aberaeron to Llanrhystud

Over the new year Yasmin took me away on a mystery trip. I was convinced that we’d be heading to the south east of England, but actually Ceredigion was our destination. We stayed in a tiny shepherdess’ hut near Llanrhystud. Although I’ve made the journey to Aberystwyth dozens of times over the last decade, I never thought that one day I’d end up living in a hut for five nights just off the B4337.

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On the second day of our stay we caught the T5 TrawsCymru bus, which are all free on weekends, (Thanks Welsh government) down the coast to Aberaeron, and started the day properly with coffee and cheese on toast in a vintage tea room called McCowan’s. We sat in the window and watched the world go by as we mentally prepared for our walk. The weather looked ominous with the threat of rain ever present. Once we’d lined our stomachs we headed coastward.

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As we neared the sea we could hear the wind roaring over the pebbled beach, and were a bit put off by this ferocity so early in the walk. Some houses that we walked past that had the porches painted like beach huts. We stuck to the high water mark and soon got out of town, leaving behind the dog walkers, and making the most of the fresh sea air. The path gradually rose up to a low cliff where we continued on to Aberarth, a lovely village with narrow lanes and great old cottages that some homeowners decorated with driftwood and buoys salvaged from the beach. The other side of the village we climbed a slippery hill to a field full of sheep between the road and the now high cliffs. The coast became visibly more rough and rugged over the next mile, with comb over trees shaped by the wind, and great views down to the water and rocks below. It made me keen to return to this stretch of coast in the summer, when dolphins and porpoises are more common sights than in late December when you’d be very lucky to see one.

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We pressed on along the path, which at times felt narrow and in need of a fence to the left to stop a stray footstep sending us rolling down the hill to our death like a wheel of 8oz Double Gloucester Cheese. Passing through sheep fields, we eventually got back to near sea level where we were forced inland due to the high rainfall, into the village of Llanon, before heading off the high street and back nearer the sea and the village of Llansantffraid.

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#KilningMeSoftly

We passed near the church and into a muddy farmers lane, where we treaded carefully and kept close to the hedges to avoid huge puddles. At one point we used a field gate to shuffle across which swung open as I leapt onto it, causing Yasmin no end of amusement. We eventually got clear of the mud and ate our sandwiches on a wall in a field. We passed a collection of ancient lime kilns and entertained ourselves by coming up with stupid hashtags for the pictures that we took of them (#KilnianMurphy, #KilnInTheNameOf, #LicensedToKiln…)

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For some reason this gate wouldn’t open.

Before long we’d arrived at Llanrhystud beach, a lengthy storm beach. The rocks at the top of the beach showed just how powerful a force nature is, this destroyed fence being a prime example. I liked this beach as it reminded me of my local stretch of coast. After trying to use the gate in the fance properly, we had to use it like a ladder to clamber onto the pebbles. This is where we at last spotted the elusive cetacean that I’d been searching for all day. Despite it’s zombie cliches of having half it’s jaw missing, and it’s intestines poking through a hole in it’s rib cage, I was keen to get up close and personal with, an albeit rotting, harbour porpoise. It was like being in the natural history museum, only a bit more morbid. We walked to the end of the beach, and left the coast path to head back to the bus stop where we started, pleased that we’d ticked off seven or so miles in a new county.

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I took this photo on porpoise

Walked: 30/12/17

Published: 27/02/18

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Something I wrote got in the Guardian!

My name in print, online for eternity.

They edited it slightly, and objectively for the better. I was pretty happy when I saw it on their website.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/dec/29/great-uk-winter-walks-highlands-midlands-yorkshire

Edit: a week after my writing got into the Guardian my ugly mug got onto the front page of a local newspaper for doing the Christmas morning swim!

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Mendip Madness

Thirty miles of walking over two days through an area of outstanding natural beauty, plus a bonus craft beer/cat review!

Day One:

My mate Kit and I both have girlfriends who have ditched us to go to the other side of the world for ages. As such we decided to walk 30 miles across Somerset over a weekend for some reason, as we both had the free time. Here’s how it went.

I met Kit Friday at Bristol Parkway, where he was very surprised to see me as I told him I was going to be over an hour late. He called this “trolling”, which I would just call “a joke”. Vernacular differences aside, we drove to the Airbnb in Wells, catching up with each other between interruptions from the Google sat nav woman directing us. Kit had banked on using a pub toilet for the hour I was “running late”, and therefore was busting for a wee for the entire 45 minute ride to Wells, yet somehow paradoxically managed to see off the bottle of Felinfoel double dragon I handed him at Parkway. Once we got to the Airbnb and dumped our stuff, we headed into the city for food. We ate at an Indian restaurant called Rajah, before walked around the corner for some pricey trappist beer, and home to sleep.

The beach is (thirty miles) thataway!

The next day I had the pleasure of waking up at 5:30am, and driving to Weston Super Mare, where I parked the car at our finishing point and caught the first 126 bus back to Wells. The bus took an hour and a half, and I was back at the Airbnb by nineish. After breakfasting in town, we started walking at ten. The weather was not our friend for the first half of the day. Never more than a constant drizzle, it kept us saturated. It took us a while to find the West Mendip Way, all weekend we had this annoying habit of missing a subtle turn, and walking for some time before having to retrace our steps to get on track. One cool thing about the weekend though was that Kit used his phone to track our walk. The voice of Google would announce every mile, and told us how fast we’d walked it. This was a great tool to analyse our walk, and was encouraging after a quick mile, but disheartening after a slow one.

We left Wells on Milton Lane, where we passed a field full of pheasants. There must have been at least forty, which amazed me as I’ve never seen more than two together. It was like a Disney film. We crossed fields to the outskirts of Wookey Hole, where we were greeted with a row of houses all built of pale pink limestone. They reminded me of Pink Bay, my favourite beach near my home. Having cracked our first two beers we sipped them as we walked, Kit opting for (demanding) the coffee porter, and me getting lumped with the red rye IPA.

After passing Wookey Hole the path took us through a muddy forest with a steep route to the top. This was brutal as most of the steps were over a foot tall, and my rucksack was heavy with all of my belongings for two days including around three kilos of liquid in the form of beer and water, and a hoodie that I didn’t wear all weekend. Eventually we got the viewpoint on top, where we cracked the second pair of our Aldi beers, which I was keen to literally get off my back, and admired the foggy view. Kit having the golden ale, and me the 4 hop lager. After two miles we entered the village of Priddy, where we happened upon the Queen Victoria Inn. We seized the opportunity for a pint each, and to leave our gear near the roaring fire to dry off. I can’t help but feel we spent too long there, and too early in our walk. After leaving twice because I left my hat by the fire, we continued through Priddy on Coxton End Lane, which had rolling fields either side of us. In the next field we stumbled upon another walker who was going the wrong way. He joined us for a bit after we set him right. It was great chatting with him, but ultimately his pace was incompatible with ours, and he left us in his wake. No doubt he had less beer and useless clothing weighing him down. We cracked the last beer when he was out of sight, the American IPA, and shared it as we walked. A few fields later we were on a big downhill into the village of Draycott, and then back up another huge hill and down again, skirting near Cheddar, of cheese and gorge fame. Also, by this point it we’d seen the last of the weekend’s rain, which was a cause for celebration.

Too drunk, too early in the walk

We got slightly off track, which was the thin end of the wedge that lead to us ending up very off track on the slopes of Beacon Batch, the highest hill in the Mendips. I was struggling with the uphills at this point. Eventually after climbing over a dry stone wall, and a barbed wire fence we were once again where we should be, and were soon rewarded with spectacular views of Glastonbury Tor to the south, and the almost perfect circle of Cheddar reservoir, and the Severn estuary straight ahead of us to the west. This encouraged me, even if briefly.

We then came down an incredibly steep forested hill to the road that passes through Cheddar gorge, and then across the other side. Up through a forest and across a hilltop farms fields. We passed a farm where almost all of the sheep were limping, much like I was at this point, and made our way down the lane. The paved road punished my feet, which were blistered and wet from the puddles that we tried unsuccessfully to not wade through. Eventually we made it to Winscombe and the Airbnb. After trying to get into the wrong house we eventually got in the correct one, and got clean, warm and fed. We ordered Chinese food and stuffed our faces. I was exhausted, having been up three hours before Kit to move the car. I was in bed at 9pm and asleep by around 9:01pm.

Day one breakdown:

Notice how Kit doesn’t actually start tracking our walk until we are pretty far from Wells city centre. You can add a mile to the 17.4 easily.

Day Two:

The number of feet I have that hurt.

There is something to be said of the healing power of a dozen hours sleep. I certainly benefited from it after the first day’s 5:30am start, and twenty miles. Our Airbnb host Oscar cooked us fried eggs on toast, and made us coffee to start our day. This, along with the dry weather and dry footwear put us in a good mood, despite the aches from the day before. We were out and on the road shortly after 10am and headed for something called the Strawberry Line, the old Cheddar Valley train line. It should have taken us to the West Mendip Way, but was fenced off for construction work. As it was a Sunday we reasoned that there wouldn’t be work being done on it, so we hopped the fence and walked down the line, past pipes and machinery. We thought we were pretty clever not having to take

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Those trousers never stood a chance.

the diversion, until ahead of us we could make out some orange hi-vis trousers, and heard the noise of an engine. People were working. We had to head back to the last fence we’d hopped, and make our own detour which added considerable distance to our walk early in the day. To add insult to injury Kit bust out the crotch of his trousers hopping one of the fences. Not the best start.

 

 

I found solace on the dual carriageway, where we had to walk single file, by picking hawthorn berries and throwing them at Kit’s head from distance. This activity continued for the rest of the day whenever the hedgerows provided ammunition.

We soon found ourselves away from the road, and into the Kingswood, whose name is straight out of Game of Thrones. This was a long uphill section that was popular with local walkers. We climbed up through the wood and straight onto Compton Hill, where we enjoyed the best view of the weekend at the trig point. It was one of the best views I’ve seen in the UK, and the photographs don’t do it the slightest bit of justice. From the top of the trig point I could see 360 degrees. Somerset is mostly flat, and as we were so high up we could see for miles. We could see the Quantock Hills in the south west, Bridgewater Bay curving gradually around to Devon beyond. Both Flat and Steep Holm in the Severn Estuary, and behind them Cardiff and the South Wales coast. I could even see the Brecon Beacons, I’m sure I could make out the distinctive twin peaks of Pen y Fan and Corn Du almost fifty miles away. This was the highlight of the weekend for me.

Trig

We pressed on, following the dry stone wall to our right that guided us along the ridge to Crook Peak, another great viewpoint a mile away. This offered even better views of the Severn estuary and was popular with walkers. Two remote control plane enthusiasts provided entertainment, using the wind whipping off the hill to their advantage. The thin grey ribbon of the M5 passed close by, and Kit and I couldn’t wait to get it behind us.

Following what seemed like a path to nowhere, we scrambled down a rocky slope until it cut through a forest and a legitimate path appeared. We came out in a hotel car park and felt inclined to stop for a pint. I lost the bet as to whether it would be a bridge over, or a tunnel under the M5, (It was a bridge) so I had to buy the drinks. The hotel was dead, and we waited a long time for service. When we were served it was by an incompetent bartender who overcharged me by £3.90. Murphy’s was on offer but he insisted it was £4.50 a pint. We drank up on the balcony outside, but before we headed off noticed that there had been two signs on the bar announcing that Murphy’s was on offer for £2! After a chat with the manager I was reimbursed but still couldn’t believe a pint of coke was £3.50, I would have had two pints of Murphy’s instead!

After crossing the M5 bridge we went very wrong and had to retrace our steps to start the climb over the last big hill of the weekend. We walked down Roman Road, which had an incredible view, one that must come with an expensive price tag judging by the size of the houses there, and the supercars parked on their drives. After a long gradual downhill through the village of Bleadon we entered Uphill, and neared the Ship, the pub we’d set our sights on for Sunday lunch, at the bottom of Uphill Hill (I love the fact that you could say “’I’m going up Uphill Hill” and it would be grammatically correct).

Weston S.M Beach

When we arrived I was done. I wanted nothing more than for the walk to be over, every muscle below my waist ached. We shamelessly ate our roasts with our shoes off to rest our swollen feet. After debating whether to catch a bus not for the last mile, we decided to walk, passing a golf club, and the seafront before arriving at the car. I dropped Kit off at Temple Meads and headed home myself. As I crossed the Severn bridge the sun was setting. A consequence of travelling east for most of my weekends away, is having to return west on a Sunday evening, driving into the sun. It cast its golden glow over the Severn to my left. The estuary that had been our goal all weekend, was bathed in amber, Baywatch light that makes everything it touches appear more appealing. It looked glorious. The knowledge that I’d walked all the way to it’s shore from Wells made me feel good, like I’d achieved something, and it far outweighed the allover ache which I suppose is the price you pay for the feeling of achievement.

Day 2 breakdown:

Couple of things. First look how the start of our walk makes a number 5 shape. You can see the exact point where we saw the workers on the Strawberry line, and had to double back on ourselves. Secondly notice the part where we catastrophically went wrong and had to double back on ourselves again near Webbington. That cost us both miles and morale. Finally, notice how Kit ended the walk in Uphill, although we actually walked what Google maps informs me was 1.5 extra miles to my car parked on Severn Road.

Aldi craft beer review:

Hywel’s beer preferences:

  1. Coffee Porter
  2. 4 Hops Lager
  3. American IPA
  4. Red Rye IPA
  5. Golden Ale

Kit’s beer preferences:

  1. Coffee Porter
  2. Golden Ale
  3. Red Rye IPA
  4. 4 Hops Lager
  5. American IPA

Do with that information what you will.

Cat of the weekend:

First place: The first Airbnb’s cat that was utterly unfazed by us two strangers entering his home in the dark, and refused to move from his bottom step. We had to step over him.

Runner up cat: 2nd houses cat. Nothing special, just basic cat.

3rd place cat: The first Airbnb’s other cat that hid in the airing cupboard dead in front of the toilet and scared the shit out of me. Good job I was on the toilet. Not cool cat.

More photos of the weekend:IMG_1992

popo

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IMG_2017

moss

sheep

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uphill

down

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sideways

not sideways

IMG_2055IMG_2057jump

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beach

Walked it: 8th-9th/10/17

Published: 19/12/17