Day 20 - Blue Anchor Bay to Nether Stowey
I avoided the shower this morning. I had a comedically stressful experience in it yesterday afternoon. In much the same way as a fancy Japanese loo once caught me out in Tokyo, I got stuck in the shower. It had Wi-Fi and could play music, but it’s function as a shower was less certain. It had 6 different jets that appeared uncontrollable. As soon as I got one to switch off, another one would start. I felt I might never leave. I eventually emerged, super clean.
After the very kind chef opened up breakfast for me an hour earlier than normal I had a quick look at the sea and then started the walk with yet another hill. It would be lovely to have a gentle start in the morning. I think that’s coming tomorrow.
Although I’ve planned every day’s route twice before starting the trek, I’m still adjusting them as I go. The idea today was to do some hill walking, in the Quantocks. But last night I thought I’d prefer to stay by the sea for longer, as my last opportunity. So instead I mapped a version that stuck to the England coast path till Kilve. I took an inland road up the hill for the first section and then veered out onto the coast.
Before hitting the path, I went through Watchet. This describes itself as a 1000 year old port, with a little harbour and a busy line in cafes. Coleridge wrote part of the Ancient Mariner here, and there are references to both gentlemen in the village. I called into Sam’s deli to pick up a sandwich for the walk. I got talking to Terry, a regular there. He kindly donated to the charity, and I snuck Sam, Tabi and Cara into the photo too. He then asked me if I would walk with him to the statue of the Ancient Mariner. Turns out he’s the photographer for the local paper and he was keen to do a piece on what I’m doing. He took a couple of photos of me with the albatross. Let’s see if his editor is interested!
I left Watchet through a footpath that took me through a broad bean jungle. And then out onto the cliff edge.
This is such different walking to the SWCP. The cliffs are far less precipitous and the beaches are lined with stones with mud flats interspersing them. It was fortunate that the tide was low, as the coast path is impassable when high, which would have scuppered my plans somewhat. Walking on to Helwell bay there were a number of things that caught my attention. The stone was strangely soft, my poles made a thump instead of a clack when they took purchase, and almost made indentations. There also appeared to be pavements made of stone. Are these man made? And if so, why? Definitely not man made was an amazing fossil, just there in the rock under my feet.
And most alarmingly, as I walked close to the cliff I heard a sound and turned to see some clumps of rock falling. Coastal erosion happening in front of my eyes. I moved away from the cliff onto the sand, to discover it was the mud about which there had been very fierce warnings earlier. Right over my boots, glad I spent a bit of time rewaxing them. I hopped between rock pools, aiming for the more solid sand, looking at the strata of rock and wishing I’d paid more attention when David has talked to me about geology in the past.
After a short interlude up on the cliff, the path returned to the beach at St Audrie’s Bay. I stopped to look at the most extraordinary tree and remains of a building, hovering over a waterfall. They appear to be suspended above the beach through sheer determination.
As I climbed down the striated rocks to continue my route the sky changed, a storm was starting in the middle of the beach. Thunder rumbled from the cliffs and huge raindrops were racing me to get my waterproofs on. I was soon soaked, but having seen the rocks fall from the cliff I didn’t want to shelter there. So I just trudged along the beach in the rain, the storm and I walked together for a couple of miles.
Up on the path again, the rain started to thankfully recede. The sound of the wind in my waterproof was replaced by the bleating of the sheep. I took the chance to sit looking at the view of the sea and the Hinckley Point power station whilst eating today’s squashed sandwich.
After setting off again I met Mel, Mark, Leanne, David and Penny who kindly sponsored me and told me about a lovely tea shop on my route.
Set up in the ruins of a 13th century chantry, the tea room had little shelter when the rain started again. So I shared the solitary umbrella with Janet and her husband. They kindly sponsored me, and we had a fascinating conversation about their experience of hosting refugees. Very impressive people.
The rest of the walk was a very soggy couple of hours.
A mile from the end, thinking I was almost home and wet, I got involved in the habitual skirmish with overgrown footpaths. Can you spot the gate here?
The skirmish erupted into a spectacular battle with a copse that had been allowed to grow in front of the gate out of the field. I had to resort to my hands and knees to get under the trees, my rucksack getting caught on the boughs as I went. There was a lot of furious shouting.
But everything got better when I eventually arrived at Nether Stowey and was shown to my surprisingly enormous bedroom at my B and B. It used to be the library in which Coleridge worked on his poetry.
And things got better still when I saw my lovely friend Philip walking down the road to meet me. Hopefully a drier day tomorrow, it’ll be a miracle if my boots have dried out by then.
Distance: 14.5 miles
Total ascent: 1950 feet
Calories burned: 2000 calories
Local tipple:Mad apple scrumpy
Dinner at The Ancient Mariner - fine, but disappointing to not find the specials board till after we’d eaten….
Scampi and chips with mushy peas
New song of the day
Gojira - Amazonia
Another heavy metal, but at least it was singing instead of screaming. Great bass riffs. But it’s not really my thing…
Video of the day - in two parts as my phone had a funny five minutes with getting wet.