Stayed the night with Thirle and Peter in Taunton. Henry Haslam collected me in the morning and together we drove to Minehead where I last left off. From there we walked past Dunster close to the West Somerset Railway, past Blue Anchor to Watchet. Just before Watchet we ate our lunch in a field enjoying the sunshine. Afterwards, we tried to continue along the coast through a caravan park but had to turn back as it was a dead end. After which, Henry had to turn back for Watchet to catch a bus into Minehead to collect his car. I continued along busy roads including the A39, pressing myself into the hedges in front of oncoming traffic. With the ease of navigation and by-the-sea convenience of the South West Coast Path behind me, I was back in the nitty-gritty-find-your-own-way regime! Outside East Quantoxhead I left the perils of the A39 and cut my way along paths that crossed fields. Dusk fell. I had my first uncomfortable encounter with livestock! A herd of about 100 cows decided I was to be given a close and compressed escort across their field in
the semi-darkness. They formed a tight group around me, pressing themselves against me. Then one excited animal starting bucking, its hooves a little too close to my face for comfort. I 'clacked' my metal walking poles together and shouted to disperse them. Job done. They scattered but kept trying to re-form their protective sandwich with me as the filling. A “clack clack” of my walking poles and a “Hiii…Hiii” kept them back far enough for me to reach the stile. From there, in complete darkness, I arrived back on the A39 to walk the last few hundred metres into the village of “Kilve”. With the local “rush hour” commute in full swing, I put on not one… but two head torches: a white light facing
forwards (my head light) and a red light facing backwards (my rear light)! It did the job, and I arrived, un-flattened, at the Hood Arms for the evening.
Wednesday 17th November 2010
With a free picnic lunch and a generous donation, I left Kilve and headed towards Cannington. Heavy rain and strong winds accompanied me until late in the afternoon. Level paths to Hinkley Point power stations. Met an environmental consultant doing a survey of the local bird population in preparation for the construction of a second nuclear power station. Had lunch overlooking the beach, sitting on a low wall, in the pouring rain, but kept perfectly dry and comfortable in my Paramo clothing. Went up to the mouth of the River Parrett where I had tea and biscuits in a bird hide built on stilts. Then followed the River Parrett Trail. Eventually reached The Kings Head in Cannington after dark.
Thursday 18th November 2010
Bright day with a couple of very light showers. Bought a card for my mother and sent it off in good time for her 85th birthday. She is suffering from Alzheimer’s and a huge motivation for my walk. Headed across fields to Bridgwater. Finally crossed over the River Parrett. Celebration! Then along the pavement of the A38 for a few miles before taking a “Public Right of Way” across fields. But all the gates were locked so careful
climb-overs required. Spent most of the day heading back down the River Parrett. Went through a herd of cows without any problems. Hooray! I had set my sights on reaching Burnham-on-Sea, but it was now dark and my body told me it would be three miles too far. So I found some accommodation in Highbridge.
Friday 19th November 2010
Weather was sunny with a bit of cloud. Walked from Highbridge along the Huntspill River to the coast, then along the beach, past Burnham-on-Sea and up to the headland of Brean Down. Then problems with finding an accessible crossing point across the River Axe. Finally with darkness fallen and after an hour of plodding along a country road, I caught a passing bus into Weston-super-Mare to catch a train to Taunton for the week-end. I will resume where I left off on Monday.
Monday 22nd November 2010
Train from Taunton to WSM. Then a bus back to my last point. Easy walk on paths, roads and beaches into WSM. Stayed in WSM over night.
Tuesday 23rd November 2010
From West-Super-Mare to Clevedon. A day of beaches, blocked off public footpaths and lanes. Decided to stay inland to avoid more blocked paths and dead-ends. Still forced to climb over gates and fences and scramble through hedges because “public footpaths” had been blocked off by landowners. More close up interest from cattle and I am developing my cattle “shooing” skills.
Arriving in Clevedon, I found accommodation at The Moon and Sixpence.
Wednesday 24th November 2010
Telephone interview with Emma Britton at BBC
Somerset. The two Severn bridges are looming… my crossing point into Wales tomorrow. Through Portishead and into Avonmouth. Collected by Philippa’s sister Emma and stayed the night with her and Elaine just outside Bristol.
Thursday 25th November 2010
A momentous day. In bright sunshine and a stiff breeze, I was accompanied by Helen and Kate from the South & West Wales Alzheimer’s Society based in Cardiff across the M48 road bridge into Wales. I am so grateful to them for their wonderful company and support today, and in the weeks to come. Once in Wales, I made my way down to Caldicot from where Emma collected me and along with Elaine they put me up for another night in Bristol. The following morning I returned to London to work up until Christmas. I will resume the walk in the New Year!