My morning today started with a visit to the Weston-Super-Mare Milk & More depot. Manager Mark was there to greet me, I also met many other friendly staff at a busy time of their day. Mark, who is kindly organising a collection for MacMillan, joined me as I set off and we got the days walking underway. When we reached the B&B where I stayed last night my parents were waiting for us and they took over from Mark.
It was a great personal honour for me to have my Mum and Dad, Eileen and Bill, join me on the walk today. They have not only supported me as well as possible during this walk, but through my whole life in general. Both are retired, but obviously still very fit, they easily managed a mile and a half at my side before wishing me well and turning back to return to their car.
In the best walking weather of all thirty seven days so far I headed off along the A370 and A38 through the Somerset Levels. The busy A38 had many warning signs saying it was a 'red route'. This has nothing to do with stopping restrictions, the red must refer to bloodshed. The signs also quote the figure of 723 casualties in 5 years. Luckily for me there was a good footpath all the way, annoyingly though it often switched from one side of the road to the other, crossing was not easy.
At Pawlett I stopped on a bench in a quiet park and enjoyed the lunch my mum had given me earlier. A little while later I reached the town of Bridgwater, famous in these parts for it's huge annual carnival. At Bridgwater I stocked up with refreshments before joining the canal which would take me the rest of the way to Taunton.
The Bridgwater and Taunton Canal gave me a typical towpath walk; peaceful, tranquil, traffic free and flat. With just a few fishermen and dog walkers around it was a welcome respite from the busy weekend roads. This canal is still navigable, but easily the quietest of those I have walked along with hardly any watercraft around. In many places there were still WWII bunkers to be seen along the canal, something I hadn't seen on the canals further north. Surprisingly there were also big swarms of midges, by far the worst I'd seen since The Highlands. Luckily they seem to leave people alone and don't instantly attack human flesh like their Scottish relatives.
The canal took me right into the centre of Taunton. It somehow seemed apt I should stay here. On my way into town I passed the Somerset County Cricket stadium. In 1985 Somerset cricket legend Ian Botham went into the local hospital with a sports injury. After taking a wrong turn and going into a children's ward Botham was shocked to learn that some of them only had weeks to live. Soon after he set off on the first of his many charity walks, it was from John o'Groats to Lands End. Sir Ian Botham has since raised an incredible £12 million for charities through his walking.
After a day of high mileage I was pleased to finish feeling quite strong. Today should be the last time I post a daily total of over 30 miles. Tomorrow I have another exciting day to look forward to, I will be crossing into my home county Devon. The finest city of them all, Exeter, where I work and know so many people, is my destination. My good friend Andy from the Exeter Milk & More depot has volunteered to walk the whole 28 mile stage with me. Will he be able keep up? Good question. I'll let you know tomorrow!
GPS data click here
Mileage today; 32.65 miles, walking time 8 hrs 1 min, average walking speed 4.1 mph
Weather; sunny with a cool breeze, max 16C
Cumulative mileage; 791.77 miles
|The rebuilt Grand Pier at Weston-Super-Mare, I was in town shortly before it |
was due to reopen after being destroyed by a fire in 2008
|The A38 Red Route|
|The Bridgwater and Taunton Canal|