After leaving California Cross in the early mist I continued my journey westwards through the Devon countryside. The narrow lanes in this area were almost completely traffic-free, there was often half an hour or more between vehicles. Once again the hills were hard work, one long steep stretch heading out of Ermington was possibly the toughest climb I've come across since I came into England.
My walk started in the summer, but it's very clear by now that I've walked my way into autumn. It's not only the deteriorating weather and much earlier sunsets, the trees are changing colour, leaves are beginning to fall and increasingly often I'm finding myself treading on horse-chestnuts, acorns and the like.
With 10 miles or so covered I crossed the A38 on a bridge, found myself on busy roads again and came into Plympton. With rain falling I took the chance to get in the dry and had my lunch in a cafe. Not much further on I dropped into Plymouth's Milk & More depot, it's handily placed for me to the north of the city meaning I could avoid the central areas. While there I enjoyed a very warm welcome from the management team of Nick and Joe as well as product controller Dave, office girl Marie and many other friendly staff.
From the depot I skirted around the northern suburbs of Plymouth until the Tamar Bridge suddenly came into view at St.Budeaux. Another of Brunel's pioneering Victorian bridges takes the railway across the River Tamar right next to the road bridge. The Tamar marks the border between Devon and Cornwall, when I crossed it I entered the final county of this amazing journey. The bridge takes you right into Saltash, I stopped there, found the local bakery and treated myself to a Cornish pasty. All us Devonians know that the pasty was actually invented in Devon by monks in 1105, but the Cornish have perfected them in modern times and it seemed an apt way to mark the moment.
Through Devon I'd managed to avoid walking along the obnoxious A38, the nearest thing to a motorway in these parts. Unfortunately it was unavoidable for a couple of miles west of Saltash this afternoon, but I could make my final approach to Tideford on country lanes. As I made my down the last steep hill of the day, a harsh 1 in 4, my thighs let me know they'd had their best workout in a long time. After walking this far if I come across anything particularly steep I'd rather be going up than going down.
I've entered Cornwall free of blisters, my slightly sore and swollen achilles heel remains a concern, but it's giving me no real trouble. Tomorrow I will avoid the treacherous A38 and make my way to Bodmin via rural lanes.
GPS track click here
Mileage today; 26.11 miles, walking time 6 hrs 39 mins, average walking speed 3.9 mph
Weather; early mist, then mainly overcast with some bright spells and some light showers
Cumulative mileage; 891.94 miles
|A crooked church spire in Ermington|
|Walking under the A38 at Plymouth (much preferable to walking on it!)|
|Arriving at the Tamar Bridge, Brunels's railway bridge is to the left|