28 June 2008

Day 13 - Misery, injury and a torrent of vitriol

Salmonhutch, Crediton to Tiverton - 2/6/08

Come one, come all for a riveting walk along the spectacular Exe Valley Way. We have the ups, we have the downs (none of those pesky flat sections though) and for those of you who dream of a morning of knee shattering fun, there's always the option of an exciting on-road section first thing. If you can tear yourself away from the relaxing asphalt surface (steep camber included at no extra price) then the wonderful Exe Valley Way offers even more to the discerning hiker.

Relive those childhood dreams of exploration as you battle through our specially prepared undergrowth. Our route maintenance experts have been busily crafting a dense foliage jungle just for you and their careful placement of fallen trees and overhanging branches ensures that your time on the trail will be a real challenge.

But, it's not just about physical exertion; there are sights aplenty to be seen as you go. See our glorious hedgerows which come with our personal "breeze blocker" guarantee to provide you with mile after mile of near identical viewing. After the hedges, be sure to enjoy our sodden fields, murky forests and have your camera ready for the unmissable sights and smells of the Tiverton sewage works.

All said, the Exe Valley Way really is the trip of a lifetime so don't delay, grab your waders and come and join us today. As a bonus, act now and you'll get the benefit of our stifling humidity and torrential downpours at no extra cost. The Exe Valley Way - a once in a lifetime experience.

You can probably tell from the above rant (I don't know why it took the form of an advert - it just seemed right at the time), that the route today has not really been one of my favourites to date. Not only has the walking generally been awful, but the constant ups and downs all day have taken their toll and I'm now walking with a distinct limp. It's my left leg this time, just above the knee, but fortunately I've got tomorrow off, so by the time I don the pack again, it should hopefully feel a tad better.

So, focusing on the positives, what have I enjoyed about today? The honest answer would be precious little, although I must pass on a good word for Bickleigh Mill. I came across this lifesaver late in the afternoon after stomping up and down the hills all the way from Crediton. Having found nothing to eat since my modest bowl of breakfast porridge, I was naturally starving and so pretty much anything would have been welcome. My deli board of cold meats, breads, cheeses etc and a cream tea (complete with two giant scones) turned out to be delicious and all disappeared in a matter of minutes.

Sadly, not even a full stomach could improve the bog ridden off road section that consumed the remainder of my afternoon. It seems to be a constant problem down here that even the more prominent footpaths are in desperate need of a spot of maintenance. It's all well and good providing signs and waymarkers pointing across a field but if you can't physically walk across said field without hacking through waist high grass and climbing over fallen trees, then something is clearly amiss. I therefore implore whoever is in charge of the footpaths of Southern England to get out there and "walk the trails yourself" (preferably with a heavy backpack) so that when the next LEJOG walker comes along they can have something positive to say about their journey into Tiverton.

Sun, stroll and the company of fish

Venton to Salmonhutch, Crediton - 1/6/08

It would seem that someone was listening the other day when I was moaning about the wet weather. Today was my first totally dry day since setting off from Lands End and I must say that it made for a pleasant change. The most noticeable difference was probably just packing my tent away dry for a change and it was surprising how much lighter the whole thing was without all of the excess water. Still, it would seem that more rain is on the way for the rest of the week, so I suppose I shouldn't get used to it.

On to today's walk then and really, its not been too bad. No major surprises and its been quite pleasant just to trundle along and drift off into my own little world. It's helped that the mileage for today has not been particularly vast so I've just been able to go at my own pace. It also meant that I've been able to take a generous break for lunch, which is something of a change from my usual sandwich at the roadside.

Speaking of roads, today was yet another tarmac heavy day along the lanes of Devon. Hard on the feet, easy on the navigation is a situation I'm getting increasingly used to. I still find it irritating though when the high hedges block out views of the surrounding countryside for mile after mile. Sometimes it feels like walking in an incredibly long tunnel for the day, which was novel at first but is now getting pretty tiresome. At least now that I'm out of Cornwall, Rights of Way are becoming more prolific so hopefully the coming days will be a little more varied.

I'm staying tonight at the Salmonhutch Coarse Fishery just outside Crediton. I had originally planned to take an extra day off here as a rest day, but I've decided to push on to Tiverton instead tomorrow and take a rest day there. Partly, this is down to the somewhat spartan facilities here at the site (they don't have showers - I had to dunk my head in the sink!!!). However, I also quite fancy a day or two in civilisation after being slightly remote for the last couple of weeks. Besides, spending two days with only fish for company is not an especially attractive prospect.

Just a quickie...

Hi folks

This is just a quick note to apologise for the tardiness on the blog front recently and to let you know that all is progressing well. I am making good progress; I am currently North of Ashbourne in Derbyshire and will be starting on the Pennine Way on Tuesday.

I hope to have a few more blogs up in the next few days, but I have slipped behind a little (??) in writing them up. I will do my best to bring them up to date as soon as I can so that you see what I have been up to as I made my way through several counties on my steady trek North. Thanks for all of your interest and support and hopefully normal blog service will be resumed soon.