LEJOG13: Luxborough to Crowcombe

Today was a (relatively) easy day: 12 miles, not much more than half the distance I did on Thursday. Partly this was because Jenna had joined me for the day and I wanted to enjoy her company, but it was also because I didn’t think I could physically take anymore without it all becoming something I had to do rather than something I wanted to do..

So our intended starting time was 10am, two hours later than some of my solo departures, but this became 11.30am due to the non-appearance of our taxi. Our new taxi driver was fantastic, he was a migrant to the area (sourced from the midlands judging by the accent) and described Exmoor as ‘the place that time forgot’ due to it’s lack of services and the slackness of those services that existed. He gave us some tips on which were the best places to get lunch and bid us adieu at Luxborough.

Here we had to watch out for the garishly liveried rally cars passing by in the small lanes due to a race taking place in the surrounding hills. For the first part of the walk we could constanly hear the distant revving of engines; it was weird but not unpleasant, comforting almost to think of all that intense action taking place so close and yet so far. Even that bustle couldn’t touch us where we were.

I had handed over the map reading duties, and it was great to see somebody else getting equally confused and lost. We got behind a bit on time as Jenna grappled with the sparse and undescriptive prose of the robo-rambler which often missed out incredibly helpful details about the route he intended us to follow, such as the bloody great big slopes we were meant to be waking along. With my greater experience of the man I could have been more helpful, but then Jenna also could have been more willing to accept help. Unfortunately we are both as stubborn as each other, which resulted in us getting to the pub about 30 minutes late.

In this time we were constantly dodging sporadic burst of rain. We’d get all covered up like chubby power rangers to protect outselves, then ten minutes later we’d have to strip the layers off as the rain receeded and the sun returned to stew us in our layers of gore-tex. On open ground we looked out for the clouds responsible and identified a series of ‘rain bombers’- big long dark clouds that hung low in the sky as they sailed past. At the bottom of one hill we saw an armarda on the horizon, but by the time we got to the top they’d passed and we could see them dropping their payload in an adjacent valley making the entire area grey while dark tendrils of rain spiraled down from stationary rain bombers above.

By the time we got to the pub we were drier than I expected, having missed most of the threatened rain. I was also walking far easier than I had been anticipating. This was definitely in part because I wasent wearing my full pack, but I hoped that it was also due to my heels starting to heal after being (relatively) rested. I had got some advice on how to deal with my blisters and it sounded so excruciating that I was more inclined to carry on as I was. Maybe my feet had hardend up of their own accord, maybe i had finally truly developed hobbits feet that included the leathery soles as well as hair and shovel-like widenness which I already posessed.

We had a lovely lunch at the pub, the Valiant Soldier in Roadwater. The barman told me something I been waiting to hear for the past two weeks-evidence of other people doing the walk. Apparently a week ago two men passed through while doing the same route as me, and they talked about a couple of Australians who were a few days ahead of them even. Even more bizarrely a group of young lads with a dog had stayed in the area two weeks ago claiming to be attempting the walk, although most people seemed slightly sceptical.

It was weird to hear of these other people, so close and going through such a similar parallel experience and yet so separate. I doubt we’ll ever meet up as I really dont want to increase my pace (I’d rather spend more time enjoying the places i’m already going through), but if anybody knows who they are I’d be really interested to get in touch and maybe get some pointers. I’d be very interested to hear what they thought of the walking Nazi-maybe they had no problem with him and I’m just soft and unprepared. Maybe.

The afternoon as lovely but took much longer than we expected. We spent it in the shadow of the Quantock hills but eventually didn’t climb them because we were running out of daylight and wanted to do something with the day that didn’t involve walking. This was a shame as they looked quite nice, albeit compact. My only previous knowledge of this area was from an episode of Peep Show where I they were used as an example of a staid and boring weekend break location. With this as my reference point I was happily surprised and impressed.

The most magical point of the day was right at the end when as we skirted the base of the hills and saw the landscape we had covered laid out in front of us; a classic English patchwork of fields on rolling hills, with a spattering of grey stone cottages here and there to add variety. The clouds continued to sail across the sky letting through beams of sunlight which moved in tandem, looking like God slowly stroking the landscape with his glowing fingers. And to top it all we had beef and dumpling caserole for dinner. Perfect.

On my rest day my feet felt even better, I got to ride on a steam train and I had a lovely roast dinner. The down side was realizing that there was something wrong with my phone and that it was probably going to piss it down thennext day. However, even this couldn’t dampen my mood. Despite all the hard work over the previous week I felt like the luckiest boy in the world.

PS Thanks to Steve for the eclairs!

3 Responses to “LEJOG13: Luxborough to Crowcombe”

  1. 1 Mum April 27, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Now that your phone is back on line is there going to be an update to the live tracking or have you really spent the last week in Barnstable studying the maps and soaking your feet in a foot spa.

    YOu know Marco Polo never went to China – just mugged up on the internet.

  2. 2 Karen April 28, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Heya Brendan

    I don’t know exactly who the other guys were who were walking LEJOG, however I have been following two other blogs of people who started at more or less the same time as you:

    http://bloglejog.blogspot.com/ (running!)

    These people will be starting at Land’s End on 13 May:


    And there’s a couple of people who’ll be starting off at John O’ Groats a bit later in the year:

    http://www.thegreatfridgeadventure.co.uk/ (carrying a pair of fridges, no less!)

    It’s very exciting to be following everyone’s blogs, in the hope that I can do it myself one day šŸ™‚

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