Walking from John O'Groats to Land's End in the winter of 07/08.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Severn View to Yatton

Today I spent approximately nine and a half hours moving my legs about, mostly with the added bonus of wet feet on the end of them. The heavy mileage was largely due to a lack of bed and breakfasts, but also because I wanted to escape the tentacles of Bristol, the council estates and commuter villages that radiate from the city.

With this in mind, it was very early when I tucked into the continental breakfast that had been deposited outside my room. The world felt peaceful as I strolled through the pretty village of Aust and along grassy tracks in the dim early morning light. Pathless fields followed, proving that even if people have been given the legal right to walk across wet fields near a motorway, it doesn't mean anyone actually does. After passing through a farmyard, provoking the usual vicious barking (from the dogs, not the farmer) I emerged onto a small lane. Then things went belly-up, and I'm not referring to setting off in the wrong direction, although that did happen.

Suddenly there was water as far as I could see, filling the shallow depression of the lane and forming a neat lake between the hedgerows. I made little progress trying to cling onto the prickly vegetation and decided to stride confidently through it, causing a line of waves to roll across the calm surface of the newly formed pond. Liberated from trying to keep my feet dry, I could splash through the floods for the rest of the day.

Crossing the motorway, small roads took me into Easter Compton and then a climb up onto a muddy hill with reasonable views across the flatlands. Another motorway to cross and then into suburban Bristol, not the long distance walker's natural habitat. Luckily Andy Robinson's End to End book offers hope in a green corridor that follows a small ridge; much nicer despite being covered in slow moving dog walkers. After another section of housing estate, it was time to join a footpath that shares the motorway bridge across the River Avon. Noisy and unpleasant, the only views were of a muddy estuary and huge industrial estate.

After slowly working my way through Easton-in-Gordano I followed a complicated series of paths, which were often muddy and sometimes almost impossible to find. I made sure I was careful when navigating across the playing fields of an isolated school, especially since I was wearing the modern equivalent of a macintosh. The visual highlight came when I gained enough height to see the whole of the Bristol Channel laid out before me.

Time was moving on, so I abandoned the footpaths for an exclusive road plastered with warnings of security cameras, protecting the huge houses hidden in the woods. Appearing out of the trees at the hill fort of Cadbury Camp, I looked down over a vast flat plain, criss crossed with straight drainage channels and shallow pools of water that had formed on the grassy fields. I descended to follow these drainage channels, the banks of which at least rose above the flooding, but there was a lot of crossing other drainage ditches involved.

Lastly, a very straight and boring road took me through the setting of the sun and well into the evening before I reached the north end of Yatton, the much anticipated destination. Bristol was the last urban challenge of my route, just beautiful countryside to come.

No comments: