After leaving my accomodation I had a mile to walk to get to the Taunton Milk & More depot. Unfortunately it's closed on a Sunday so I didn't have the chance to introduce myself to any local staff. However, my Exeter colleague Andy was already there waiting for me. Andy had bravely volunteered to join me for a tough day of road walking.
As soon as we set off I could see that Andy was an ideal walking partner. He's as tall as me, has an equally long stride and and his natural brisk pace meant he'd have no trouble keeping up. For the second day in a row the weather was perfect, we enjoyed glorious sunshine with a cool breeze that stopped us getting too hot. Taunton was soon behind us as we headed off into the Somerset countryside. For several miles we were overlooked by the Wellington Monument which dominates this area from the highest point of the Blackdown Hills. Andy is just as good at talking as he is at walking, that was great news for me because the miles seemed to fly by in no time at all. When we stopped for lunch at Cullompton we'd already crossed the border into Devon and covered more than half the days total distance.
I don't know if it's my imagination, but the English countryside seems to get greener and greener as you head further south. Also by now the ploughed fields were clearly showing the distinctive red Devonshire soil that I haven't seen for so many weeks. With no footpaths or canals going our way we had no choice but to spend the whole day on tarmac. The quiet lanes were our favourite, but fortunately, despite the great weather, the main roads weren't that busy at all. I'd incorrectly predicted that the Sunday drivers would be out in force. After lunch we pushed on as far as Broadclyst at a good pace. We stopped there for a short break, but were disappointed to find the local shop closed when we fancied an ice cream. When I spotted Woodbury Castle in the distance I realised how close I was to home, it can be seen from many parts of Exmouth and Exeter. With a couple of miles to go another colleague Marcus turned up to give us moral support and he brought a very welcome drink, an open shop meant we were able to buy our ice creams in Pinhoe. Soon after we reached the Exeter Milk & More depot where our loved ones were waiting.
Andy has shown great strength of character and stamina today by walking nearly 28 miles with me at a very good pace, that's further than a full marathon. I'm very grateful to him for joining me and being such a brilliant walking partner. Reaching Exeter marks a major landmark for me. I'm stopping for a rest day in my own home, a priceless luxury after five and a half weeks away. The end of my journey may seem close to some, but to get complacent now would be a big mistake. There is still a very long way to go and I will remain fully focused on the job in hand until I reach the finish line.
Monday will be a rest day, much needed after a week of very high mileage. The walking will recommence on Tuesday when I leave Exeter and make my way to Torquay.
GPS data click here
Milage today; 28.86 miles, walking time 7 hrs 34 mins, average walking speed 3.8 mph
Weather; mainly sunny with a cool breeze, max 17C
Cumulative mileage; 820.63 miles
|The Wellington Monument on the Blackdown Hills|
|Andy and myself shortly after arriving in Exeter|