LEJOG10: Westward Ho! to Barnstaple

Today was meant to be a more restful day, only seven hours at an ‘easy’ level was the suggestion from my more reliable guide. It was a much needed rest as the following day I would be venturing into Exmoor without a well signed national trail to guide me. I was going to need all my wits about me for that so having a more chilled day preceeding it was adviseable.

However, as I left the B&B full of vim and vigour I double checked the mileage to find out that I still being expected to tackle almost 20 miles today. That didn’t sound very chilled to me.

The start was great-a long early morning ramble down bideford beach, a massive stretch of golden sand surrounded by no cliffs only sky. I strode purposefully while a massive skinny dog with crazy eyes tried to run rings around me. Nothing would be put me off.

Except boredom, because today was sooo boring. Exiting Westward Ho! I entered Appledore which looked like a lovely Victorian fishing village. Then, due to the closure of a certain ferry, I had to walk about four miles down one bank of the river, cross over, and then walk all the way back down the other bank. If it had been a nice river this would have been ok but it wasn’t, it was mostly mudflats overlooked by barratt homes and a motorway bridge.

On the other side it just got better, because the south west coast path merged with the Tarka trail, a cycle path built on an old railway line, similar to the camel trail at wadebridge. So I had to walk nine monotonous miles down a tarmacked path while retired couples floated past me on rented bikes. Nine monotonous miles of the soles of my feet getting increasingly sore. It made a change from the pains in my legs received from the cliff bastards, but not necessarily a positive one. I started to resent the Tarka trail and hated anybody using it, looking venomously at the old biddys and gaffers as they trundled past. My talking book kept me sane. It was set in the oppressive, drab and gloomy years of austerity proceeing the second world war. I instantly emphasized with the characters.

By the time I got to barnstaple i wasnt rest as my feet were in agony. I marvelled at the different types of pain that different types of walking could cause. I hoped that tomorrow was quite up and down so that it would be my legs turn to be punished and the soles of my poor feet could have a rest.

I got there relatively early, 4pm, so I was able to indulge in the one activity guaranteed to refresh my spirits: shopping. Luckily there were a few outdoors shops and I managed to get a couple of the things I had been yearning for, including an eye-wateringly expensive ultralight merino wool t-shirt somebody recommended me on the blog. If it stopped me from having to wash my t-shirts every single night, then it will be worth it.

I also paid some bills and did a little food shopping. It was all very productive and I exited barnstaple high street laid with bags. Unfortunately it was at this point that I worked out that my Campsite‎ was an hour away up a very steep hill. Bugger. The effort of getting myself and my bags up that hill was, ironically, one of the toughest hours of the trip so far. Each step was torture, my arms felt they were going to come out of their sockets and I only had the energy to shuffle a small pace at a time. I couldn’t even use my poles, despite having bought rubber tip accessories from millets that afternoon especially for having to deal with difficult roads such as this.

So by the time I got to the Campsite‎ I didn’t feel as relaxed as I had hoped. I did however make my first evening meal, a concoction of stir fry vegetables, uncle ben’s express Chinese rice and a pepperami. I ate it overlooking a far away looking barnstaple (see picture below) and dreamed of all the other places I would look out on over the course of my journey.

And then i had to wash my pants. Living the dream!

PS tomorrow is going to be a potentially exhausting day so I might not have the time I write a post. If that happens don’t worry (mum this means you), it doesn’t mean anything awful has happened to me and I will catch up asap.

PPS thanks for all the helpful comments from my post yesterday, I’ve taken quite a few on board already. Keep em coming, I need all the help I can get 😉

1 Response to “LEJOG10: Westward Ho! to Barnstaple”

  1. 1 Jenna April 23, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    the tarka trail looks amazing. i love the long straightness. it would be very calming.

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