157am River Axe to Uphill

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.

road walking, Ruth walking the coast in Somerset
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.
footpath at last, Ruth walking in north Somerset
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.
rural views, walking through North Somerset, Ruth's coastal walkBut 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.
Llama, Ruth on her coastal walk, North Somerset footpath
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.
 Lleaze Farm, Ruth walking the coast, heading for River Axe
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.
 small industrial site, River Axe, Bleadon Level, Ruth trying to walk the coast
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.
cycle route 33, Bleadon Level,  Ruth Livingstone
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.
boring track, cycle route 33, Bleadon Level, Ruth walking in north Somerset
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.
entrance to sewage works, Bleadon Level, Ruth trying to walk the coast in North Somerset
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.
to the river bank, Bleadon Level, Ruth walking towards Weston-super-Mare
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.
 looking down from Walborough Tumulus at Uphill and marina, Weston-super-Mare, Ruth's coastal walk
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.
across River Axe to Brean Down, Ruth wakling Walborough Hill, North Somerset
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.
meeting hubby at Uphill Marina, Ruth walking the Somerset coast, Weston super Mare
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.

 surprisingly nice Uphill, Ruth walking towards Weston Super Mare
The pub offers typical grub. Nothing fancy. I order a large portion of lasagna.

[To be continued.]

 rain soaked walking, Ruth LivingstoneThoughts on walking in the rain.

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…

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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22 Responses to 157am River Axe to Uphill

  1. Sally Jordan says:

    On wet feet,,,.I have an expensive pair of leather walking boots,and when wearing them have never had wet feet from rain or wet undergrowth. However I have had wet feet and blisters from my own sweaty feet! I also have ‘summer’ walking boots, which suffer from the issues you describe. The trick of course is to take the right pair on each walking holiday and I certainly don’t always get it right.

  2. grajay2012 says:

    I too have a hatred of walking in the rain. I won’t start walking in the rain unless there’s firm evidence of the weather getting better.

    I have a pair of lightweight Berghaus Gore-Tex Paclite Shell trousers and similar jacket which both cost a lot of money and they sit in the bottom of my day sack ALL the time – even in summer. They weigh virtually nothing and wrap up and fit into a small mesh bag about the size of a bag of sugar (the trousers are smaller) and I have been really surprised how often I’ve been caught out and have had to put them on. I’m sure there are other makes that do the same sort of thing.

  3. martyn west says:

    Hi Ruth,
    If you hate walking in the rain then you had best avoid Scotland LOL. But seriously I have had many problems with blisters etc after getting wet feet, this has finally been eradicated by the fantastic Waterpoof Socks!!!! made by Sealskinz, they are just great I used them twice on my recent trip in Scotland through bogs/gorse/long grass and not a rub or blister to be found! You still feel the water in your boots but your feet are protected, so off you go splosh splosh splosh!

    • Hi Martyn, I am definitely getting some of these Sealskinz socks. Others have recommended them too. Scotland seems a long way off still, but Wales is probably going to be very wet… and I’m nearly there!

  4. mariekeates says:

    My sympathy for the wet walk. I hate walking in the rain because my glasses get wet and I can’t see. Waterproof trousers make me so hot I get wet anyway, my boots are waterproof, which is fine if the water is below the tops of them, not so much once the water gets inside. Parts if the Itchen navigation get so overgrown and full of nettles I have to walk with my arms over my head to avoid getting stung.

  5. grahambenbow says:

    I always carry an umbrella and use it apart from when it’s too windy. I even used it in the fells. Mind you it won’t keep your feet dry. Generally I don’t suffer from wet feet unless I’ve not water proofed my footwear recently.

  6. I don’t ‘do’ rain either if possible, although when on a booked walking holiday have had to get on with it – The last day of the Thames Path several years ago was a biblical washout!

    • Yes, sometimes you just have to get on with it, don’t you. My worst walking days have been when I’ve booked B&Bs and baggage transport – and then I don’t have any choice but have to walk the next stretch, no matter what the weather.

  7. jcombe says:

    That overgrown footpath you mention was so overgrown for me I had to give up and turn back. Although I had walked this section in the opposite direction so had only just left the road anyway. I did report it to the Council at the time, but it seems if they did do anything, the path is now back to it’s previous state. A shame. Still nearly back on proper (I.E. next to the sea) coast again for a while!

    • What a shame it is in such a bad state. I guess the problem is that it doesn’t really lead from anywhere to anywhere – you would only use it as part of a longer walk. Becomes a vicious circle doesn’t it. Rarely trod paths become overgrown, and so become rarely trod, and so become more overgrown… and so it continues.

  8. I have the same paclite gear as grajay2012. Its very good and very light. Through experimentation I’m another who’s concluded that leather boots are best. Though it has to be said that all boots gradually lose their waterproof properties as they wear out.
    On the worst days you have to just accept the rain is going to get through no matter what you’re wearing. All you can do is toughen up and get on with it. All will be well again after a nice soak in a hot bath later 🙂

  9. I don’t like having to wear waterproof trousers as I find them restrictive and unless it’s a particularly cold day they make me too hot. However, there have been plenty of times when I’ve been so glad to have them. Two tips: firstly make sure you can get them on over your boots; secondly, wear your gaiters underneath. If your boots are wet inside, Sealskinz socks are great as they won’t get soggy.

    • Wearing gaiters underneath? Never tried that combo. And several people have mentioned Sealskinz socks. I need to buy some. Shame they’re so expensive.

      • When it’s raining heavily and water is pouring down your trousers on to your boots, the gaiters are an extra layer of protection to prevent it from soaking through. And if you step into a deep puddle, the trousers on their own won’t be much help when it comes to stopping the water getting in over the top of your boots; the gaiters will help though.

  10. I do like the idea of wearing gaiters underneath waterproof trousers as the problem I always seem to face is when water pours in through your laces. During the winter or, in anticipation of a wet weekend, I try to clean my boots and use a waterproofing spray at least a day in advance. It does help but then, as I don’t spend a lot of my footwear, the seems give way eventually.

    I’ve hoped to find a pair of ‘comfortable wellies’ (purely for winter walking) but having found negatives reviews for everything (in addition to my reluctance to spend £100), I feel out of options there. Perhaps my next pair of boots will be leather, as advised above.

  11. Pingback: 157pm Weston-super-Mare | Ruth's Coastal Walk (UK)

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