LEJOG17: Kenn to Easter Compton

I was on a mission today. I wanted to make up as much distance as possible so that tomorrow I could catch an earlier train from Chepstow and spend Friday night with the family rather than on a train.

Luckily is wasnt a particularly difficult route, which also meant that it wasn’t particularly interesting either. I spent the day dancing around the M5-first I went over it, then I went under it, then I walked alongside it, and in the afternoon I went back over it again. This wasnt as bad as it sounds-the intention was to send me via the nicer parts rather than horrible roads-but it did serve to rub in my face the fact that I could much easily and quickly get to my destination via a car. I tried to mentally ignore this fact all day, as otherwise I might just give up the whole thing there and then.

Highlights of the day included descending into a small but steep wooded valley (humourously called ‘Bullocks Bottom’) to find the forest floor covered with intensely coloured bluebells. It was a magical moment, stepping out of dreary fields and rainy skies to find oneself suddenly surrounded by twinkling little flowers, as if somebody had just turned the contrast right up on a tv screen. Then as quickly as it had appeared it was gone and I stepped back into the banality of fields again.

Walking across the river Avon next to the M5 was actually a highlight as it was quite exhilerating and intense to be up so high with thousands of tonns of metal swooshing past on one side and nothing but sky and whether on the other.

After the brief horror that was Shirehampton I spent a good few hours travelling across Blaise estate. It was full of landscaped woods and clearings, follies, monuments, iron age forts, a stately home, metal bridges over roads cut through a hill, a museum and parkland. All the classics needed to fill a Sunday family outing. The best bit was saved until last – a little group of pensioners cottages all sitting facing each other in their own walled garden. These cottages were insanely and almost creepily pretty, each one with different features (such as thatched rooves, cross shaped windows or bird houses built into the gables) but obviously related to one another. I think they probably looked otherwordly even when they were built, more like the idea of what a village could be like than what it actually was. (crummy iPhone camera couldn’t really capture it so you’ll have to wait until my flikr account is activated for a proper look.

While the day wasnt filled with excitement I did make fantastic time and looked to get to the furthest point I was aiming for about an hour ahead of schedule, which was satisfying in itself.

The final highlight was saved right until last. As I rounded the top of a little hill a wonderful panorama revealed itself to me. A flat patchwork of brightly green fields spread put before me. To my right the land reared up to form a line of small hills covered in trees. To my left were the cranes and large metal sheds of a modern shipping port. Right in the background were the hazy forms of the two large suspension bridges that cross the Severn estuary, their forms bright but slightly indistinct where they blurred with the mass of clouds and rain in the sky like a Turner painting. It was a lovely scene, and one that couldnt be captured by any of my cameras without losing the depth and form.

In the final half hour I managed to out-run the largest rain cloud you’ve ever seen. It stretched from horizon to horizon like the sole of a shoe from the point of view of an insect about to be stepped on. The fact that I passed by a church at this point added extra portentiousness (sic?) making it appear as if the devil were brewing a storm to blow down and suck up the last refuge of the godly.

I received the refuge I was seeking in the nearby pub. The locals gathered around the bar asked me where I had come from that day. “Kenn”, I replied. They looked at me in dumfounded shock and astonishment. I was appreciative of the implicit praise, as natural born attention seeker I thrive on isuch stuff, but didn’t think I fully deserved it purely for that days effort. “Kenn”, I repeated. “You’ve come all the way from there?” said one incredulously. “Yes,” I continued “Kenn’s only about 15-16 miles isn’t it?” Suddenly their eyes and mouths relaxed. “Oh Kenn you say? I thought you said Kent!”. The barman joined in “Yeah, he’s come all the way from Kent, he was seven foot when he started, look at him now!” Brilliant; my once-in-a-lifetime achievement reduced in the space of a few seconds to a joke about my height. I doubt it’s the last I’ll hear of that little gem on this trip…

4 Responses to “LEJOG17: Kenn to Easter Compton”

  1. 1 Chloe May 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    I have very fond memories of fields of bluebells. My mum told me that I was going to have a little sister in a field of blue bells. It was a lovely place to find out, full of spring analogies. Unfortunately she grew up to be a 14 year old who is ‘too bored to function’. Kids!

    Congratulations on reaching Wales!!

    clo x

  2. 2 karen and dave May 2, 2009 at 9:14 am

    we may be able to host you for two nights. We can pick you up from monmouth on tuesday night-but you will need to get yourself back to monmouth on wednesday morning as we have to go to work in the opposite direction!. i have checked out bus tometables and there is one that will get you into monmouth at 9.50. We can then pick you up from pandy on wednesday evening. Give us a ring!01873852074
    karen and dave

  3. 3 Raj May 5, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    That last para made me laugh out loud.

  4. 4 Karen May 6, 2009 at 9:59 am

    I’ve been on a few country walks recently – the whole country seems to be covered in bluebells at the moment. Isn’t it stunning?!

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