26 June 2009

Day 24 - Evictions, Disturbances and an Absence of Manners

Painswick to Cheltenham - 13/06/09

Didn't really get the best of starts today to be completely honest. After confirming with my B&B hosts over breakfast that checkout would be at 10:30 I found myself unceremoniously expelled from my room at 10:05. To make matters worse I was right in the middle of packing my pack for the day and my pleas for another 5-10mins to get everything straightened out fell on deaf ears. My gracious 'hosts' didn't even have the decency to wish me well on my journey but instead retreated back to their TV in the lounge and left me to see myself and my armful of possessions out. Still it gave me the chance to experience completing my packing from the comfort of a park bench in true hobo style. Now all I need is a knotted hanky on a stick.

Naturally this spontaneous bout of rudeness didn't put me in the best of moods for the remainder of the day, but thankfully the now much flatter Cotswold Way did go someway towards soothing my ruffled feathers. Alas, this afternoon saw me bid a final farewell to the Way and after bidding it a fond farewell (and a promise to re-walk it in full some day) I joined the somewhat less fantastic Gloucestershire Way. Maybe the well walked and well maintained footpaths of the Cotwolds have spoiled me, but this afternoons foray on the Gloucestershire Way was a real pain. Every trail was choked with clinging vegetation and naturally most of this turned out to be of the stinging variety.

Now, after nearly four weeks on the road I've understandably become rather adept at spotting a stile lurking amongst the undergrowth. Credit then must be given to the Gloucestershire Way for managing to conceal one so completely that I passed within 5 yards of it (several times) without ever becoming aware of it's existence. After vainly searching up and down half a mile of hedgerow for some considerable time (and debating the possibilities of successfully vaulting a 5 foot hedge) I did finally manage locate the devious little thing. I then set about my usual tactic of using improvised trekking pole machetes to clear myself a path through the stinging shrubberies so I could finally be on my way once again. In my mind, this not only prevents me from my legs being stung to buggery, but also provides something of a public service to any poor hikers following in my wake (unlikely in this case I reckon). Apparently the farmer who interrupted my pruning session would beg to differ. I was mid hack when he popped his head over the hedge and asked if I would mind keeping the noise down. Two things baffled me about this statement. Firstly my trekking pole chopping was hardly what you would call noisy in the first place and secondly, I was surrounded on all sides by open farmland so who exactly was I disturbing? I managed to refrain from mentioning that maybe if he maintained the footpath a little then ramblers such as myself would no longer have to disturb his empty fields. Ah well, here's hoping for a better day tomorrow.

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