Let us meet together

Sunday 27th July 2014- Blaise Castle

Me, Paddy Garcia, Burge, the DJ, Kate Force One, Magic Dave, Mr P and Madame Citron

IMG_1344Six miler from Geoff’s second book, remarkably not completed before. It was, even by Geoff standards, an ambiguous start from the carpark at Blaise, but after a certain amount of milling, we were off through Echo Gate and heading west through the woods and across the hillfort.

We crossed the small footbridge over the main road into the Kings Weston estate. After a quick stop at the grotto to channel some classical deities, we walked along the terrace (past the wartime urinals) and along the rides to admire the view of Kings Weston house in the distance.

IMG_1355The route then cut south towards the Avon. After passing a deserted cricket pitch, we arrived at a second where a Ladies County Cricket game was underway (Cornwall v Shropshire), so we stopped for lunch. Many chicken legs, seaweed snacks, watermelon and a frankly too-bottomless tub of bombay mix. Couple of sporting faux pas (walking in front of the sight screen, kicking over the boundary flags) and we were off.

A swift change of sport took us along the edge of Shirehampton Park golf course (‘Caution, Poison! Do not lick the balls!’) and another sporting faux pas (picking up the balls- no licking- and chucking them around). Spectacular views down over the Avon towards Pill. It might be slimy but the river bend looked lush and interesting in the sun.

IMG_1358Bit of hairy crossing of the A4 into a field with crazy cricket action (the small green noisy things, not the sport), then a descent through woods to cross under the railway, and wade through long grass alongside the Avon. Close up view of the slime.

We turned up into Sea Mills along the Trym, up a small green corridor through the suburban landscape* (slight aroma of sewage from the water) and then back through the woods of the Blaise estate to the cars.
Extremely fine icecream at the cafe before going our separate ways.

Not a bad Sunday stroll, pleasingly green although still very urban, with lashings of Englishness.

* Some dissent over stopping/ not stopping at pub here for cider. We didn’t.

 

 

 

 

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Banjo!

Monday 21st to Friday 25th July 2014- Sticklepath to Ivybridge: Dartmoor

Paddy Garcia, Kate Force One and Burge

Day One/ Stage One: Sticklepath to Wonson ‘The Northmore Arms’ Sticklepath and South Zeal very lovely. Signposts for the Pilgrims Way poor. Two fields with bulllocks crossed, hedges jumped, back to roads, beautiful countryside and the first bit of moor. A lovely green lane (Deave Lane) took us out of picturesque Throwleigh to the Northmoor Arms for bitter (Dartmoor IPA), cidrax (Sam’s cider) and fish and chips.

Day One/ Stage One: ‘The Northmore Arms’ to Fernworthy Reservoir Through a wood, down to a river and up onto the moor; via Fernworthy Tor and down to the reservoir. A swim for Burge and KF1, whilst PG hung out in his pants. Idyllic illegal swimming and a beautiful campsite (although a bit bitey).

P1000340Day Two/ Stage One: Fernworthy Reservoir to ‘The Warren Inn’ Up and over the reservoir and onto the moor. Brief stop for KF1’s blisters and a phone call. Onwards via a well-preserved cursus towards the Warren Inn and baguettes and beer. Sleepy. Lots of tourists admiring the charming half pints. Clouds developing.

 

Day Two/ Stage Two: ‘The Warren Inn’ to Cockingford Hard climb up to Grimspound and along the ridge to Widdecombe. Steep descent to Widdecombe- quick summit meeting. Trip to shop and National Trust information. Decision made to have a drink and then head to campsite at Cockingford. Fine campsite on river*.

Day Three/ Stage One: Cockingford to Chalksford Rested and cleaned, another scorching day. Opted not to strike up steep valleyside and instead went riverside along the Webburn. Had an icecream and then stopped for a swim in Salter’s Pool. Out of the valley to Holne, first pub stop without a pint in readiness for the big pull onto the moor. Stocked up and walked to Scorriton (no pint) and onto Chalksford where an idyllic campsite by the river prompted a curtailment of the stage. We are ready!

P1000373Day Four: Chalksford to Harford Bunkhouse Steep climb first thing, hazy sun with breeze at our backs. No sign of sad sheep. Feeling fit but painful feet soon set in as we hit the hard road across the moor. Much archaeology to admire and keen family doing the whole of the two Tors walk. Nuts and plenty of them. Soreen and cheese. The last of the pure water. PG’s screenplay discussed: Fool’s Gold a definite goer.

Burge hard taskmaster despite KF1 at 80% pain (100% is death). Some controversy remains about timing of lunchbreak. Down, down, down into Harford and a sting in the tail climb to Harford bunkhouse and hot pasties (giant), meringue cakes and a free lucozade. Delirium. Peacocks, firepit, ‘Horse and Groom’ pub and wobbly bench to imbibe cider and beer. Taxi to campsite, hilarity**.

Day Five: Harford Bunkhouse to Barleymow Hot in tent. Hangover (red wine)- more peacocks. Who knew they could climb trees? Slow pack up and final push, one and a half miles, to Ivybridge station. Emergency food and drink run by heroic PG. Sweaty hot train to Newton Abbot and beyond. Slow walk to end point at Barleymow (Dings, Bristol), where this tale endeth.

 

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Team Banjo!, 2014

*Editor’s note: PG says a book could be written about this stage.

** Editor’s note: possibly assisted.

 

Freedom

Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July- Watermouth, Devon

Me, Paddy Garcia, Kate Force One, Magic Dave, Burge, Madame Citron and Mr P

Not a walk as such but definitely a journey. After a complicated early morning, me, PG and KFO set sail in the mighty micra, loaded to the gunnels. An extended stop in Williton (lovely farmshop, ample street parking where required for making emergency phonecalls) en route before we met up with Madame Citron and Mr P at Porlock Weir, where, happy days, we stumbled on ‘Weirfest’. Not only 50+ craft ales and ciders, but food (not quite as good as it should have been, but food none-the-less), and Stormy Normy…. Dire Straits and a extended mix of Rockin’ in the Free World… in a carpark. PG thinks nothing further needs to be said about Stormy Normy.

IMG_1286After poking our head into Millers to admire their interior decoration and definitely marking it down for a future stay, it was off through a selection of small toll gates into deepest, darkest Devon. Beautiful, beautiful wild and woolly woodlands and sweeping views of the sea. Through Hunters Inn and Lynmouth, past what must be the most picturesque cricket pitch in the land, to eventually* arrive at Watermouth.

IMG_1215The campsite breathtaking, we pitched the tent on a high field overlooking the sea, then headed down to the steep steps to Broad Sands beach for first swim in the sea.

A very fine evening, reunited with Burge and Magic Dave who’d been climbing (and toasting their skins, sausage-style) at Baggy Point. Barbecued (actual) sausages and played petanque as the sun went down, strolled to see boats in the dark and swift pint in the pub.

Rain overnight but another glorious IMG_1278morning (despite the voice of doom passing us by), we packed up, spent some more time on the beach (canoes hired by Magic Dave and Mr P), then headed off to find fish and chips and funicular railway at lovely Swiss-style Lynmouth/ Lynton. At this point, energy deserted us- possibly sapped by intense yet pointless discussion about Burge’s previous walk in the Valley of Rocks which wasn’t in the Valley of Rocks**… Milling set in and we split up for the return leg, admiring Exmoor on the way back and rooting for Novak.

Overall, a perfect weekend away. Proper sunburn/ windburn, a variety of athletic endeavours, some drinking, milling, happy conversation and beautiful, astonishing scenery. This stretch of coast is a touch less extreme than Hartland (Beyond the Devil’s Window), being in the estuary rather than the Atlantic, which gives it a special charm. Feels lush and (this weekend) almost tropical.

*Some concern by KFO that the journey was too long, but not agreed with by us. Vital to remember the right campsite if we return. Hazardous plastic park next door.

** Fortunately met couple with local knowledge on funicular who confirmed Burge was remembering the wrong tea shop. Burge told them they were mistaken.

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