Thursday, June 7, 2012


I returned to Bath to resume Stage 2 of my walk after leaving my London ‘Base Camp,’ generously provided and managed by David and Marilyn.

I set off afresh with the Queens’ Jubilee celebrations in London behind me, a new smaller and lighter backpack, a few more items jettisoned, the laptop (less battery) taken on board, and the gross backpack weight down to a manageable 10kgs. This still includes camping gear (as backup) but no cooking gear or food. And the boots reheeled and strips of leather sown in behind the heels to stop the blisters.
It felt odd returning to Bath again. Two retired couples in the YHA were from Tasmania, travelling for several months after renting out their houses back in Australia. Not for them the Grey Nomad campervan tour round Australia. A couple of Dutch men were cycling from John O’Groats to Lands End.

The weather started drizzly but soon cleared and after organising a broadband dongle for my laptop I was away up the hill out of Bath. I missed out on the pretty route with views over Bristol and Wells because of my late start but took a direct route to Hanging Hill, then the site of the site of the 1643 Battle of Landsdown. Here Sir William Waller and Sir Ralph Hopton, school friends who’d fought side by side before, found themselves commanding opposite sides on that occasion. But they remained friends all the same (at least up to the battle). And at this battle ‘more men of quality died than private men’ apparently. I suppose there are several ways that may have occurred or could be interpreted.
Today followed the Cotswolds Way, a National Path that meanders all over the place. I took deliberate shortcuts here and there, and long-cuts sometimes by accident.
A group of walkers coming the opposite way filled me in on accommodation ahead, including not to stay at the very pub I’d booked into.
I passed a house that looked strangely sombre. An old woman standing at a side door dressed in black said it was haunted, and closed the door as she spoke. She didn’t appear in the photo I took – maybe because the door was closed.

Soon after I met Jim & Moyra sitting having a coffee on a bench, walking the Cotswold Way but having done most LEJOG; and the Camino de Santiago – from France and from Southern Spain. Being Scots they had all sorts of advice for me on the ‘top end.’

I reached Tomarton, just short of my destination Old Sodbury, but glad to shelter from the darkening skies. The landlord was certainly a ‘character’ who confessed to having  no enthusiasm for the accommodation side of the business. It showed. But it was cheaper by far than elsewhere, the shower was hot, the beds soft, the room warm and the tumble dryer at my disposal. Luxury! Better than a tent on a night of forecast gathering high wind and heavy rain.
Alas my destination tomorrow night remains uncertain. And accommodation ahead either scarce or exorbitant and no formal campsites to be found.