Tues 17th July
I packed up fairly quickly and I was on the trail by 6.30
Today I wanted those mile. I set off at a good pace .I started by descending down and in the distance I heard traffic, possibly it was dustbin day?
Eventually I emerged out on to a freshly tarmacked road to my right was a sort of builders merchant. The trail took me left past some rather lovely houses that I would like to own. As I walked down the road I noticed a road sweeper and a man in hi-vis with a stop go sign. I guessed that they were still working on the road. The trail took me past the workmen., there was a lorry dumping soil over the freshly laid road. I asked one of the men why he was doing this.
They dumping in on the edge, as this stops the new edge from cracking. Learnt something today !
I walked on par the guys and continued up the road, until the trail turns right into a huge wetland bird sanctuary that i will walk around.
It was still early and the morning sunlight was picturesque. I kept stopping to watch the birds, herons fishing and other birds that kept diving .
I walked on then met a SOBO coming the other way we gave the usual greeting before continuing in our separate directions.
The trail now dives into the forest and immediately I was walking On duckboards. These appeared to go on for miles, i helps with wood being so cheap here. I briefly emerged onto another road, crossed over before beginning my first climb. It was steep oh so steep once at the top there was a sign for the shelter, but far too early for me so pushed on.
Most of the morning was rock climbing, bouldering or scrambling and i was soon exhausted. At last i left the rocks and began to work down a freshly mowed path. In the distance I could hear workmen , the sounds growing louder the nearer I got to them.
When I emerged into bright sunlight i could see another team of men working on the road.
I waited until I was waved across, on the other were side informing me about a nature reserve.
when I walked down the path I was greeted with another wooden walkway that snaked across the wetlands for as far as i could see and beyond.
It most of cost a fortune not to mention the logistics of putting it together. Omg it goes on and on . I kept waking til i came to a large bridge, once across the walkway continued on. This is totally amazing.
Eventually I said goodbye to this amazing structure and crossed into a field of cows who were mostly sheltering under the trees as it was do bloody hot in fact my watch said 97.
As I crossed the field in the top left across the road looked like a burger van or similar. As I climbed the stile to get out of the field I noticed a table in the car park.
Do you need to rest said the man and introduced himself Moose.
On the table there were grapes, plums, peaches, strawberries, pineapple, watermelon . apples and crackers oh and water. I grabbed a water and chugged it
Then sampled most of the fruit. As we were chatting he mentioned ice cream at the garden Centre across the road and the van that I saw did hot-dogs.
Leave your pack and to go sample the ice cream , oh and they will top up your water. Said Moose.
I soon found the store (more of a garden centre) They had many flavours of ice cream, I chose a pint of pineapple, 3 apple vinegar doughnuts and a sprite. I sat outside in the sun to devour my treats whilst my phone charged.
Once full I wandered around the shop then made my way back to Moose. ignoring the hot-dog van. When I got back there were several people chatting as I hoisted my pack.
Your going to get hit by the storm Moose Said
Oh well I thought, thanked moose and set off down the trail.
The clouds look threatening and thunder was rumbling but it was still roasting as i made my way along the 1/2 mile approach before my next dreaded climb. The climb started with switchbacks and then became stone steps to climb. I began to struggle so blamed the ice cream . As i climbed I met a dozen people coming down ,they all looked fresh. not puffing and panting like me .
It took me about an hour to reach the top. I stood puffing trying to get my breath back before realising that i was stood with a bear.
I quickly grabbed my phone but as my fingers were wet I couldn’t take a video then I realised that there were 2 cubs with mum so I backed away slowly , swearing at my stupid phone I hoped that I had some footage but sadly not. I stupidly was about to follow them before my brain screamed at me to stop ..Not a good idea.I was so excited to seeing them all
I continued on into the forest the skies getting blacker and blacker. I stopped to put my packs rain jacket on. Not a minute too soon as whoosh came the rain and it was heavy really heavy
I walked on as there was nothing else that I could do. Your told not to shelter under trees and as I was still high on the ridge I should get lower. The trail instantly became a river and of course my rain jacket was at the bottom of my pack.
I prefer to hike wet ,only putting my rain jacket on if I get cold,. This rain was relentless ,my shoes now squelched and I was soaked to the bone but o pushed on as there was no point stopping .
I did wonder about stopping and to put up my tent ,but the rain was just too heavy. I pushed on about another hour, slugging through the rain
Finally it began to ease as I crossed over a road , Whoop there was a cold box and it was full of lemonade, orangeade and other cans .I glugged a sprite. wrote in the book then packed another out
After about another hour I came to a sign saying shelter and decided that i would visit.
When i arrived there were 2 hikers also sheltering from the rain.
This shelter was dark and dingy and i didn’t want to stay but took the opportunity to take a break emptied my shoes wrung out my socks and ate some snacks.
I was mentioning water when one of the hikers said there is water in this bag that a Trail Angel.
Brilliant. I topped up my bottles which was a relief .then I hoisted up my pack, said bye to my fellow hikers .
I wanted more miles, especially as the rain had stopped.
I pushed on as the rain came back . bollocks I said to myself. I wanted to go till 6 pm but this wasn’t working for me at 5.30 I spied a spot and got my tent up as quickly as I could in the rain.
i lay on my pad listening to the rain eventually it stoped again so I quickly made tea. With my bear encounter I emptied all smelly things from.my pack and hung them properly.
Not far to town tomorrow