Street to Chilcompton - 7/6/08
Today was easily the best day of my journey so far. There are three reasons for this. First and foremost, today I've been joined by my Dad who has bravely donned the boots and provided me with some exceedingly welcome company for the day. Secondly, I've been able to sling my leaden pack into the boot of the car for the day, which means that I've had an entire day without the weighty bugger trying to drill me into the pavement with every step. Last, but by no means least, my good friends Rob and Vicky have come to visit, which means that I've had a welcoming party eagerly awaiting my arrival at the site this evening.
With the situation as it was, I would probably have enjoyed any route (even the Exe Valley Way - maybe) and whilst our chosen path was pretty road heavy, it proved pleasant enough.
The day began in the same layby where my bedraggled self had been rescued yesterday. Something of an inauspicious start perhaps, but it actually worked out rather well. Had I continued last night to the campsite where we were scheduled to meet, this morning would have involved a couple of miles backtracking to return to the route. As it was, my Dad and myself were ideally positioned to catch a short bridle way and join the lane that cuts around the back of Street and in the process save ourselves a mile or two of hiking.
Having effectively by-passed Street, our trail next took us to the hippy commune of Glastonbury. It really is quite a fascinating place and not just because of the imposing Glastonbury Tor that dominates the skyline. I would hazard a guess that the High Street has remained largely unchanged since the 60's and certainly the profusion of alternative style shops made a pleasant change from the carbon copy town centres in most places. I will say one thing for Glastonbury; it makes a fine coffee and flapjack (well the cafe we stopped at certainly did). Just the thing to get the weary walker back on the road.
And back on the road we duly went. In fact, after consulting the map over coffee we decided to bite the bullet and take the main road between Glastonbury and Wells. While A-roads are not particularly walker friendly (the high volume of traffic is usually a good reason for avoiding them), in this case, avoiding the A road would have meant twice as long spent on B roads. With friends awaiting me at my destination we decided to opt for the more direct approach. Fantastically, this particular road came complete with a handy pavement for almost the entire way, which turned a potentially unpleasant hour into something much more tolerable. It was still noisy, which made conversation a tad tricky, but at least we didn't have to spend our time dodging the traffic.
Wells is yet another place I'd never been to, though it seems like somewhere that would be nice to re-visit when I'm not heading North. The town (or rather city) certainly seemed to be bustling with other folks taking in the sights. We, however, contented ourselves with a pasty stop in the grounds of the impressive Wells Cathedral. There's something about the architecture of Cathedrals that never fails to move me. It's fascinating to think of the skill and dedication that went into the mammoth task of constructing these vast edifices. Sadly, today there was no time for leisurely exploration and having consumed our well earned pasties, it was time for the last push to Chilcompton.
Having spent the majority of the day on the flat, the road out of Wells played a particularly mean trick, by winding steadily but consistently uphill. This went on for mile after mile and I was increasingly grateful to be without my pack, which would have turned this final stretch into a real test of endurance. This was certainly the case for my Dad who, lacking feet toughened by 200 miles of pounding, managed to rub himself a fine blister before the road finally levelled off. Needless to say we were both exceedingly relieved when the camp site finally came into view and we could finally kick off the boots and reflect on a great days rambling.