Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I woke felt terribly guilty about staying in a decent hotel when I could have wild camped nearby but the guilt quickly dissipated over the full English breakfast included.

The town of Haydon lay nearby (but not on my route) so I decided to visit it before checking out and without the backpack.

I asked a man passing, out walking his dog, to take a photo of me alongside the sign. This involved me holding his dog which then ran off and nearly came to grief under a passing minibus. It could have been worse - it could have been my dog.

I set off along my newly discovered route mostly along a former railway line and adjacent river and accompanying National cycle route.

I spotted a house that I thought might be a former railway house and got chatting to the owner, a New Zealander long since retired to England. He mentioned a 5000 year old longbarrow nearby that one could enter and easily  explore its many chambers with a torch, and the remains of a Roman Villa in an nearby field. Once again I felt compelled to diverge from my already diverged path.

After exploring the long barrow I returned to my route which led me back to another charm packed village with an equally charming tiny pub.  There the landlord mentioned some nearby former railway buildings including a signal box and station, now both converted into homes.

At The Station I met Janet the owner and her visitor Caroline. Janet was a wealth of information on alternative accommodation having cycled LEJOG before it was popular and now walking the entire coast of Britain in installments.

Janet was very kindly the first person on my journey to offer me a glass of  something refreshing - in this case elderflower. Small world; I bumped into Caroline in Bath as I approached the Railway Station on my 'resupply' visit back to London.

The entire day was punctuated by so many magnificent old railway viaducts that I stopped taking photos of them.

As I neared Bath I decided to divert from my path opting for a more direct approach into Bath YHA. At one point I mistook the path and walked through someone's garden and out the back gate before I realised my mistake.

The Bath YHA was at almost the highest point in the city (aren't all YHA's) to discover another spacious Georgian mansion.

After checking in, showering and changing I decided to visit the local store (at the bottom of the hill) to discover the adjacent Avon Canal. By taking the shortcut to the YHA I'd missed the best bit (according to a woman in narrow boat I got chatting to) so have decided to return to it tomorrow and linger in Bath, the end of the South West England leg.

In the YHA I met several 'interesting people:' Julian from the Czech Republic was cycling here and there and camping in people's gardens where people took pity on him.

Also in the YHA was Fiona (originally from West London) and her son Thomas from Sydney having some quality time travelling here and there in Britain.

And the relief manager was from Melbourne. There's just no getting away from them.

Before hitting the sack I met Carlos from Argentina, traveling here and there by bus. His English was not so good so  shared his views with me in  Spanish till late about the dire state of politics and the economy in his home country.