Day 23 - Glastonbury to Chilcompton
I had breakfast on my own this morning, my B and B landlady has only just taken over the business, and I think has another job too. So a solitary bowl of cereal (she doesn’t yet have a hot food licence) before leaving the key having not paid. She seemed very chilled about that, said she might drop me a text about it with her bank details. I wonder how long the business will last.
A new walking day, and at the beginning a massively improved path experience. A proper footpath running to the side of the A road, adjoining fields. And the footpath I was taking off it was a proper marked track.I felt this boded well. I was wrong.
As I set off each morning there are always various complaints from different limbs. The first half an hour is normally spent doing an audit of what might be hurting. Often it’s my left shin and right hip, always my right wrist and my back is always stiff. Generally it all fades after a couple of miles. Today all felt like it was going to be fine. Also wrong!
The footpath off the A road led across Queen’s Sedge Moor. This looks like more ancient land reclamation. I’m told by Google that it contains the longest lowland peat sequences in England. However, I didn’t ascertain what that actually means. It’s a lovely place though, arable but many birds there. I had swifts darting overhead, and as I walked past him a giant heron lazily flapped to a less observed spot.
But once this interlude was over then it was back to business as usual, if not worse, with footpath entrances locked and barbed wired. So I chose to avoid the smaller footpaths today, and go for road walking. The roads are less interesting and harder on my feet, but I didn’t have the strength for the battle today.
For it’s been difficult today. I didn’t sleep well last night, so was tired, and I’ve been feeling low for much of the day.
I had planned the route in two parts, firstly walking from Glastonbury to Wells. I love Wells, with its gentility and tiny city status, and had a lovely break there with Tasha a few years ago. I sat in the beautiful cathedral allowing the space and the sound of the organist diligently practising to wash over me. Tears were shed here, people kindly kept out of my way.
There were guides passionately talking about the cathedral as they took groups round. They was a lot of mention of flying buttresses, or ‘fledgling buttresses’ as one guide laughingly called them ‘don’t quote me, haha’. I think he’d made that joke before. He was certainly very pleased with it.
I’ve not been hungry today, but I know I have to eat, so I called in at the Wells version of the Lounge chain. I’ve often had good food in these, but I was particularly impressed by the free sanitary products in the ladies. Big shout out to Lounge - doing their bit to fight period poverty. As I was leaving, I chatted to Celia. She was walking the End to End virtually during lockdown, reporting all the distances she had walked online. She did it all the way North and is now heading South again - she’s got stuck at Loch Lomond as she’s only doing half a mile a day since having an operation.I’ve inspired her to keep going. I hope she gets back to virtual Lands End and then maybe starts the real one!
As I embarked on the second part of today’s walk, I was thinking about resilience. A much wiser woman than me said that she thought that you can’t wish for your children to be happy, more that they have the resilience to deal with the times that they are not. One cannot hope for happiness all the time. Certainly today I wasn’t happy, but instead of fighting that, I almost embraced it, accepting that that is how I was feeling and that it would undoubtedly pass eventually. It happened last summer during the Coast to Coast, and I’m sure it will happen again - it’s part of the journey. I listened to a lot of cathartic music, thanks to Tim Minchin who is always my go to in these times.
The physical act of walking also helps. I’m increasingly noticing that it can become almost meditative, I’ll start on a road and without thinking about it much I’ll find that 3 miles has passed. But this afternoon, because of the earlier footpath issue, I had rerouted to be almost entirely walking on tarmac. This started to cause a slight niggle on my left heel. I stopped at a bus stop (these are perfect with their benches exactly the right height for a rucksack!) and inspected it. A small blister was forming. So I covered it in compeed and continued. A couple of miles on, it was troubling me again. There was an excellently positioned pub, so I went in hoping for a cup of tea whilst I checked the damage. There was nobody there. But this was not like the boarded up pubs of yesterday. This was open, with dirty glasses on the bar and paperwork on the counter, rather like the Marie Celeste. I took off my boots, winced at the much larger open sore on my heel, replaced the plaster, changed my socks, got my walking shoes, repacked my boots, went to the loo and got kitted up again - no one ever emerged.
I had a momentary smile at the lorry cleaning jets by the concrete factory that reminded me of the incident I had in the shower a couple of days ago. But apart from that it was a grim last few miles, having to just ignore the pain and carry on. Resilience, I guess.
When the landlady said she’d upgrade my room for one with a bath, I could have kissed her, and bit back yet more tears in case she changed her mind. I’m hoping for a miraculous improvement in my very sore foot in the morning, and a raised mood too. To Bath (that’s the city, not in my bedroom) tomorrow, and then a rest day.
Distance travelled: 16.5 miles
Total ascent: 1350
Calories burned: 2100
Local tipple: half of Gorge Best (great name!)
Dinner at the Redan Inn - excellent, with lovely company too, a fellow solo traveller whose name I sadly didn’t take.
Fish soup with rouille
Pea and asparagus risotto
New song of the day
Drivers Licence - Olivia Rodrigo
I know this is hardly a discovery, being number 1 for ages, but I’d managed to not hear it before. I love her voice and think the lyrics are great. Possibly a bit sad for this very tearful day, but maybe that’s appropriate.
Video of the day
Number of Compeed used : 2