The complete route – 204 miles (although the last 1.5 miles isn’t shown ):
I wasn’t particularly looking forward to today. It promised the longest walk of the week (at 28 and 2/3 miles), the biggest climb of the trip at the end of the day (I live in the hills) and I’d been unable to avoid planning in quite a few miles on B roads with no pavements late on in the walk (which often means lots of traffic to dodge). Not to mention the fact that very changeable weather was forecast.
I started pre-dawn in order to ensure as little traffic during my walk as possible, meaning I was done by lunch. Couter-intuitively the walk wasn’t as bad as some others – particularly as it turns out my feet stop hurting when I’m trekking up-hill.
The River Severn featured frequently today, with my route following the river quite closely, and crossing over it a number of times. For me today started at 04:15 as the rain commenced outside my hotel room. The forecast was for rain until 15:00 and then thunderstorms. As it was, it only rained constantly until 08:00, and then drizzled off and on until I got to Shrewsbury at lunchtime. In the afternoon the sun even came out from time to time. I spent my time walking soaked from head to toe, and didn’t stop to rest until I arrived at Shrewsbury (probably not a very good plan, as I didn’t eat or drink very much).
I had been expecting a fairly uneventful day. My planned route had only two off-road footpaths planned, one of which was a bridleway (being the holy grail of a farm track without head high undergrowth to push through) and the other being the Severn Way. The Severn Way sounds posh doesn’t it. Nope, it was heavy going and it was nearly my undoing. Shortly after this:
I found the path taking me through even denser undergrowth and I fell twice – once on back (no big deal, as my rucksack both reduces the height I fall, and cushions the landing) and the other only my front, as I struggled to climb a muddy bank. In the end I managed to scramble up on hands and knees, stinging my hands in the process. I wish I’d taken the slightly longer way around on the road, but little did I know it was available. See the map below – the circle highlights the hideous path I took, and the arrow shows a track (not strictly a public right of way) I could have taken instead.
Another incident occurred when I was daydreaming, and took the wrong turn. In all fairness Homer and Wig Wig did sound like places I wanted to visit:
Alas no. See the 50mph sign in the distance? My turning was there. I’d gone half a mile out of my way before I realised my mistake, and this prompted an unscheduled third footpath of the day. Mercifully this wasn’t too bad (but did soak my boots through completely). I imagined crocodiles snapping at my swollen feet as I took this footbridge:
Nearly there I passed Attingham Park, where the children have been a few times, but I have never visited. Some good venison is available there.
In Shrewsbury there was some very funny goings on:
A short day today, after a day off in Stratford-upon-Avon yesterday. Today’s journey was only 22 miles – primarily because of the dearth of hotels (or anything really) for the few miles west of where I’m staying. So I’m in Bromsgrove/Catshill/Upper Marlbrook tonight – take your pick.
The astute reader may have noticed before today that my finishing times had been moving backwards, despite starting off at the same time (5am) every morning. This has been due to 4 reasons:
Walking further – the day 3 and day 4 walks were much longer than days 1 and 2.
Using more footpaths – as well as finding the correct route, fighting through undergrowth (or even grass) takes much longer than walking clear tarmac.
Getting slower – although only towards the end of the longest walks, and that seems not unreasonable when you’ve been walking for > 8 hours.
Taking longer rests (although finding benches to sit on in Worcestershire has been a challenge).
When it become clear walking footpaths is slower than tarmac, I re-evaluted my subsequent walks, including today’s, to focus more on (quiet) roads. That meant that even including rests, today’s 22 miles was completed in 7 hours and 15 minutes, or am average speed of greater than 3 mph.
I’ve now also rerouted days 6, 7 and 8, with them coming in at:
– Day 6 – 25.3 miles (Catshill to Bridgnorth)
– Day 7 – 22.74 miles (Bridgnorth to Shrewsbury)
– Day 8 – 28.66 miles (Shrewsbury to home)
Day 7 looks like it’ll be the wettest including thunderstorms from 3pm, so I’m happy that it’ll also be the shortest.
Sleep last night: 5hr 47min
Miles covered: 22/125 (today/total)
Miles to go: 77 (new estimate)
Steps: 48,221/265,416 (today/total)
Walking speed (kph): 2.4-6.4
Arrival at hotel: 12:15ish (except I couldn’t check in til 3)