It is raining when my hubby drops me off at Diamond Farm Caravan Park. I hate walking in the rain. But the next section is mainly boring, inland, road-walking, and so maybe it doesn’t matter very much. I obey the highway code and set off facing the oncoming traffic.
With little opportunity for photographs and no views to enjoy, I make rapid progress. It is a relief to see the footpath sign, just beside Wick Farm. Now I can cut across fields and miss out a mile or more of road.
Even in the misty conditions, it is nice to be in the fields. The rain has slowed to a light drizzle. My feet are still dry. I can’t complain.
But the footpath is poorly maintained and the next section (after I go through the gate on the right of the photo above) is terribly overgrown. I get stung by nettles and brambles rip at my waterproofs. To make matters worse, my trousers become soaked by the dripping foliage, and I feel my socks growing damp as the water trickles down into my boots.
The overgrown section only lasts for a few hundred yards, but it is long enough to ensure my feet get wet.
I emerge on the edge of a smallholding. There are horses. And llamas.
Unfortunately, I have to walk under a rope fence, lifting the rope to make enough room, because a family are visiting their pony and have decided to ‘fence off’ part of the footpath to provide extra space for the pony to graze. Only temporarily, I hope.
It is almost a relief to find the road again. I join it at a steep bend.
The rain starts up again. I cross over the river Axe – the obstacle responsible for my long road-walking detour – but don’t stop to take a photograph because I don’t want to get my camera wet. This section of road is lined on the left side with small yards. It’s a strange mini-industrial site, surrounded by open fields.
As I stop to take the photograph above, I am startled by a roaring noise coming up behind me. Thinking it is a huge juggernaut, about to run me down, I squash myself into the bushes. But it is not a lorry. It’s a train. The railway line runs just to the right of the road.
Onwards. I am relieved to come across the signs for the cycle way. This is National Cycle Route number 33 and it turns off the road at this point to run across the Bleadon Level along a track.
Unfortunately, the characteristics that create a good cycle route are not the same characteristics that create a great walking route. Flat. Straight. Monotonous. But at least I’m off the road.
After half an hour of gravel tracks, I come across a tarmac road and realise I am passing the entrance to the Bleadon Sewage Works. It is galling to realise I am now only a few hundred yards from Diamond Farm site, my starting point this morning.
Behind a tall hedge, I can hear machinery at work. They seem to be digging out a pond. Later, I learnt that the area around here has been deliberately flooded with sea water, creating a series of salt marshes. This provides both a buffer for flood defence, and a wild life habitat.
I find a footpath that leads away from the cycle track. Yippee. A proper walking path. I head up a bank and over a rhyne.
Walking along the bank makes a welcome change. To my left I can see the river Axe and the water of the Bristol Channel in the distance. After a short stroll along the bank, the ground rises and I climb up Walborough hill, which has a tumulus at the top. There are even better views from here.
Ahead is Uphill, on the outskirts of Weston-Super-Mare with a small marina.
To my left is the low plain, crossed by waterways and carrying the River Axe – ships clearly visible today and floating in the high tide water. And beyond, lost in the mist of low clouds, is the raised finger of Brean Down, where I walked yesterday.
I make my way down the hill and towards the entrance of the marina area. Here is an old quarry and I stop to take photographs. Here, too, I meet my husband. He parked the car in Kewstoke, to the north of Weston-Super-Mare, and walked down to meet me.
It has stopped raining. In the brief lull between dark clouds, Uphill looks surprisingly nice. We set off up the road, to find a pub for lunch.
Wet weather is always challenging. No matter what I do, I usually end up with soaked feet, as a result of water dripping down my trousers and into my boots. Gaiters don’t seem to help, as the wetness begins above the level of their protective influence.
(I recently purchased some waterproof trousers but, lulled by the optimistic weather forecast, I didn’t bring them on this trip.)
Because it’s very warm today, I didn’t wear my best waterproof jacket. Instead, I wear a simple t-shirt of ‘breathable’ fabric and a very cheap, nylon pac-a-mac, bought from a market stall in Stamford. This lives at the bottom of my rucksack. It’s very light to carry and easy to pull on and off. Despite only costing a fiver, it keeps my body dry through most showers.
Wet feet = misery. Would be grateful for any suggestions from other walkers…