25 June 2009

Day 22 - Lords, Ladies and a Weary Walker

Tormarton to North Nibley - 11/06/08

Having said only yesterday that I shall be sticking to official camp sites from now on, tonight I am once again in the garden of a B&B. Unlike yesterday however my accommodation here in North Nibley (oddly I don’t recall seeing a South Nibley or even an East or West for that matter) would be difficult to miss for all but the most unobservant rambler. I find myself this evening pitched in the gardens of a grand 3-storey country manor and whilst the owner really couldn’t be nicer, my little tent feels somewhat at odds with the opulent surroundings. In fact the whole town seems to have an air of wealth about it, which is not something I was anticipating. I was surprised to find that the local pub that I sauntered into in my usual state of post-walk dishevelledness (yes I agree, that’s probably not a real word) was serving up top quality nouveau cuisine. Granted my minted lamb cutlets in red wine jus were delicious but after a day on the road I would have really preferred quantity of quality tonight.

Its not that the walk has been particularly long today (14-15 miles, sort of average really) but its been pretty warm again and the Cotswold Way has led me a merry dance up and down the hills all day. Nevertheless, I’m quite enjoying the Cotswold Way thus far and I’m even willing to forgive its somewhat eccentric course as long as that course continues to be a clear and trouble free as it has so far. I can understand the reasons behind its meandering journey North, this is certainly an area with a lot of history and the Way does its best to take it all in. There really is only so many forts, monuments, statues, churches, etc that one man can take in a single day however so I’ll admit to once again taking to the roads for an hour or two in order to cut a bit of a corner. I do feel a little disappointed to be missing these occasional stretches but I guess from a slightly mercenary point of view, my goal is to get to John O’ Groats and so any path that doesn’t head Northwards (however excellent) has to be considered expendable. Besides it gives me a good reason to come back and walk the Way in totality sometime in the future, preferably without the giant backpack though.

As to the bits that I did actually walk today, they were once again very pleasant, with the possible exception of the climb out of Wotton Under Edge which it has to be said was a complete killer. There does seem to be an annoying tendency for the hardest physical challenge of the day to occur within the last hour or so of the walk. Maybe it just seems more difficult because of the several hours of hiking that proceed it, or perhaps the chap who wrote my guide book is a touch on the sadistic side (I think this has already been firmly established with the Tiverton to Taunton fiasco). Either way, I suppose it makes me appreciate it all the more when I finally get to put my feet up at the end of the day and that feeling alone is almost worth the extra effort.

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