Coast to Coast – Norfolk to Wales 2

Lincolnshire

Looking now at the map I may actually have slept in Lincolnshire, I had no idea and cared even less. Just after dawn the rain had eased off, my primary preoccupation was with stuffing my wringing wet gear into my rucksack and yomping into Sutton Bridge as fast as my blisters would let me, in hope of breakfast.

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One very wet bivy, one very grumpy looking sky.

Once back on the sea wall I discovered my feet were not the limiting factor. This section hadn’t been mown, the vegetation was thigh high and absolutely soaking.

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I might have done better to have just taken my trousers off before pushing through this lot. The distant hummock on the far right is the the Outer Trial Bank, an artificial island built in the 1970’s as part of an experimental fresh water storage scheme.

It wasn’t long before my forebodings of another problem I might have on this hike were confirmed. By now my waterproof jacket and overtrousers had done over two thousand miles of rough hill trails, and many other shorter foul weather adventures in between. In terms of actually keeping me dry they were both a little past their use-by date.

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Had I chosen the bare legs option I’d have been picking seeds out of funny places for weeks. Also there were thistles…

The sky grew darker and darker. The rain returned. It seemed like hours before I reached the River Nene and turned inland, my back to the Wash. My next salt water would be the Irish Sea, but there’d be plenty more water of other kinds before that.

peter scott lighthouse

Peter Scott allegedly lived in this very lighthouse, before decamping to Slimbridge where it rains even more.

sutton bridge port

There’ve been several attempts to establish a viable port at Sutton Bridge. Investors in an expensive Victorian stone harbour watched in horror as the whole thing subsided into the underlying swamp. Finally twentieth century steel piling has stabilised one bank of the Nene sufficiently for desultory commerce. I’m telling you all this because if you go there now I should think that information board will have collapsed.

sutton bridge lincolnshire

Crosskeys Bridge is the third attempt to bridge the Nene at this point, a geographically obvious idea but again tricky in practice. Both Thomas Telford (1831) and Robert Stephenson (1850) had a go, but their efforts were superseded by this hydraulic swing bridge in 1897. Until 1959 the A17 shared this bridge with the Midland and Great Northern Railway, affectionately known as the Muddle and Go Nowhere. I was beginning to feel an affinity with its passengers.

RAF sutton bridge memorial lincolnshire uk

In WWII RAF Sutton Bridge became the world’s first centralised air force gunnery school, training both fighter pilots and bomber crews. The Dambusters also practised some of their more terrifying manouvres along the river here.

Sutton Bridge is quite an interesting place, but it was teeming with rain and I was cold. I hadn’t brought a stove as it was midsummer, of course, so I wouldn’t need hot drinks.

The high street was dismal; closed shops, boarded up shops, a mysterious steamed up shop with a broken window held together with packing tape, then finally a modern library and community centre. Sometimes these places have hot drinks, I thought, and at least I might be able to charge my phone. I slopped in, suitably apologetic to the two charming volunteer librarians who were so taken aback by my bedraggled state they gave me a big mug of staff coffee, bless their kind hearts. ‘I can’t believe’, I moaned, ‘that there’s nowhere in this town to get a bite to eat’. ‘Oh, you’ve walked right past the sandwich shop, it’s the  place with the taped-up window.’

I’ve rarely seen a less prepossessing catering outlet but when I bravely ventured in it was an absolute oasis, owned, appropriately enough, by a kind but querulous Egyptian. While serving me a perfect mug of hot tea with a generous and inexpensive bacon bap he regaled me with complaints about how disappointing Britain had become. When he came here with his British wife it had been a land of hope and opportunity, he’d built up a chain of successful bakeries. This was the last still open, I think he was just working out the lease.

Now he wanted to retire somewhere warm where they could buy a big villa with a swimming pool. ‘Wouldn’t you like that more?’ he enquired, gesturing out of his broken, streaming window at the vape shop over the potholed road. I contemplated the pools of water forming around my feet, I was wet through. Suddenly national pride surged in my breast – I must stick up for my country. ‘Actually,’ I said, ‘I’m not that big on swimming’. ‘Pah. I’d even go back to Egypt now’. I didn’t like to ask how he’d get on selling bacon baps in Cairo.

lincolnshire drainage canal

This is the South Holland Main Drain. That enormous pile of deep, slippery dredger muck is the public footpath.

Refreshed and full of righteous pride in my country’s infrastructure I strode down the road to the South Holland Main Drain, the acme and apotheosis of an extensive and ingenious land drainage system dating back to Roman times although, come to think of it, I suppose an Egyptian could claim they were doing this stuff even earlier with the Nile.

This is essentially a big canal and more to the point it runs east-west and has a public footpath on one bank. Because I live in a country where things are properly maintained, the Drain had recently been dredged. All over the public footpath.

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The less recent dredging was less gloopy, thank goodness.

Despite the rain I was in a good mood; I’d had hot food and even better I was due to sleep indoors that night. I fell to reflecting on what was to become another theme of the walk, on top of bad feet and bad weather — what a wonderful country I live in.

I’d barely started my adventure but had already encountered ancient churches, mighty sea defences, entrepreneurial pubs, shops and cafés, quirky but reliable ferries, well-managed nature reserves, a royal park, a community library, a power station, lighthouses, quiet lanes, busy roads, bridges, harbours and a tattoo parlour. Above all I’d been on a network of reasonably well-maintained and accessible Public Footpaths with gates, signs, waymarks and their very own lines of red dashes on my phone.

What a heritage, what a country. And what better way to appreciate it than to blunder through the whole accumulation, the whole palimpsest of it all, on foot, rather than whizzing in a sealed vehicle from highlight to highlight. There would be times on this hike when I’d be completely speechless at the bounty of my inheritance, staggered by a small, ancient gate, blown away by a culvert under a railway put there at great expense just for me.

There’d be other times I was speechless for other reasons. On this section, for example, by the sudden revelation that Peonies are a commercial crop.

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I was amazed by fields of Peonies, massive blooms as far as the eye could see. Unfortunately due to the ongoing heavy rain many of them had been battered into the mud.

There was nobody out picking the thousands of blooms, probably because so many had been ruined by the rain. A bit of a disaster for the farmer I should think but a boon for me as I was able to sneak into a (probably Polish) peony pickers’ portaloo.c2c-lincolnshire-rape

For the rest of the day I basically walked along muddy dykes and drains in the rain, trying to see the good and wonderful in it all and with my phone battery running low. In the late afternoon, just as it was about to conk out, I noticed there was a village about a mile off my route and randomly struck off towards it in the desperate hope it might have a shop or pub. I had a fifty percent chance when I came to the road, left or right.

By some instinct I turned correctly and in short order came to a miraculous sign that said ‘Open All Day’. A pub, a pub, and a great pub too with the stove lit and fabulous Bateman’s on pump and a landlady who told me not to bother with the vegetarian shepherd’s pie as it was ‘rubbish, not food for real people, I just put it on cos you have to’.

A proper pub, as pubs used to be, the truly wonderful Plough at Holbeach St John’s. Please support them in the very unlikely event you’re ever anywhere near them. Not least because you’ll probably be lost in the fens and may have eaten only Peonies for several days. c2c-lincolnshire-pub Obediently I had the chicken and leek pie and the ginger pud, they were both absolutely wonderful, I still remember them with affection and gratitude a year later. What a wonderful country, etc. As I relished my early dinner some real live Hell’s Angels came in. They swore almost as much for fun as I then started doing once I was back out in the wet fens and trying to locate one of England’s more unlikely AirBnBs.

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Within living memory this part of Lincolnshire was actually called ‘Holland’. That was the least of my confusions at this point, though, as I had no idea where the AirBnB was.

The map I’d carefully screenshot was hopeless and there was no phone signal. I left the main road at a derelict-looking cottage and walked for ages along tiny lanes. I turned back in despair. I sat on the verge and despairingly exclaimed out loud, in the irrational hope the host might hear me.

I was alone in the fens, exhausted. It was getting dark and still raining. Finally I trudged back to the main road and steeled myself to knock at the cottage. ‘At least the Hell’s Angels aren’t at home’, I thought, ‘they’re all in the pub’. There was an extended drawing of bolts and clanking of chains, over one of which finally peered an elderly and not entirely friendly face. It was a real ‘hikers will be shot, survivors will be shot again’ moment.

‘I’m really sorry to bother you, erm, you see, I’m a bit lost, sorry, there’s no phone signal so I can’t ask anybody, sorry, I don’t suppose you happen to know, sorry, well, you see, there’s supposed to be, somewhere round here, sorry, it sounds unlikely I know, sorry, one of those what they call AirBnBs…’ My burbling was interrupted by a friendly chortle and a jerked thumb. ‘Next door, mate’.

The AirBnB phenomenon has been rather contaminated by commerce; many rural listings are expensive holiday homes and cities like Cambridge are full of ‘Buy-to-AirBnBs’ – second homes converted into self-service budget hotels. Nonetheless if you search around the app, especially in out-of-the-way places and at the less pricey end, it is still possible to find the authentic AirBnB experience of staying in someone’s home, interacting with them and learning a little about their life.c2c-lincolnshire-airbnb

James’s AirBnB at Holbeach Drove is a haven for anyone seeking reasonably-priced accommodation in the heart of the fens. Friendly and thoughtful, he clocked my condition and immediately put the heating on so I could dry my gear. His listing clearly states he doesn’t do breakfast but, on hearing I hadn’t shopped since Hunstanton, he kindly left out some bread and spread for me to make toast. He’s put a lot of effort into his guest room, the private bathroom is large and has an actual bath, perfect for muddy hikers’ laundry. He works long hours, leaving you to your own devices in his home which had something of a transitional feel to it. A family had left the nest, perhaps a partner too, one way or another, I didn’t like to ask. I hope everything works out well for this nice man.

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James’s back garden – he does some serious landscaping.

 

I awoke well rested and dry in a real bed, the rain had eased off and soon there’d be shops and even a Wetherspoons in Spalding, horticultural capital of the fens. All I had to do was find the River Welland and walk up it into town.

The first part of this task was to wiggle, weave and wander my way through the Whaplodes, where everyone was very friendly, in fact just past Whaplode Drove an old chap even offered me a gargantuan cabbage from his garden, honestly, it was huge and not really the ideal backpacker’s snack. ‘I’ve got a few spare’, he said, indicating about forty more. What is it with growing cabbages that so delightfully liberates elderly men from the shackles of common sense?

whaplode drove

The Whaplode Drove Social Centre looks a bit like a repurposed meat plant, I bet the advertised ‘gin night’ in here is bonkers.

church whaplode drove

I said I wouldn’t mention churches but St John the Baptist at Whaplode Drove is a remarkable example of Fenland Palladian and really quite lovely inside.

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These Peonies were in much better shape, I imagine covers are drawn over those frames in bad weather.

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Dry, mown footpaths and even blue sky! Things were looking up.

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In the fens this is ‘peak hill’.

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You see some funny things on the verges of country roads. If people are going to throw their lunchbox out of their car window they could at least put a ‘best before’ date on it.

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The mighty River Welland

At the River Welland I had a friendly chat with an elderly angler, and then made the serious mistake of taking his advice on which side of the river to walk along. Never take hiking advice from someone whose hobby is fishing, the most sedentary of country sports. The only sections of the bank I chose that weren’t overgrown with exhausting thigh-high grass were those sections occupied by family groups of feisty, agitated cattle, including enormous terrifying bulls.

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It was tough going through all this herbage but at least it had dried out a little.

Meanwhile I could clearly see that over on the opposite bank of the wide and unbridged river the entirely cow-free path had recently been mown for walkers.

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After quite a few miles there was finally a bridge, on which I crossed to the sensible side.

Entering Spalding I was amazed by the East European voices I suddenly heard along the river bank. They were fishing, and all the way into the town centre. I was then delayed by an old lady who’d fallen over, there was an alarming amount of blood, people were fiddle-faddling and calling ambulances. I donated my biggest and best plaster from my first aid kit to her gashed thumb, and mopped the blood, which had all come from that one small wound with the last of my sanitiser while she chatted happily. Before the paramedics arrived I then scarpered to Wetherspoons, not wanting to answer questions about my first aid training.

Pondering my itinerary over my mixed grill I realised I had no chance whatsoever of making the day’s planned distance. For some reason with a slip of the mouse I’d assigned myself an insane 49 km! In one day! Thank goodness, it turned out I’d then planned only 23 km for the following day. It would even out, but even so it was a heart-stopping error given the state of my feet.

public footpath

I was glad of the GPS in Spalding. This obscure public footpath (one of several such) passed through the front garden of a terraced house!

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I left Spalding via Two Plank Bridge which is still quite quirky despite its disappointingly large number of planks.

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Characterful fenland signage

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Along the River Glen, in the gloaming. This bit was OK until the cattle appeared.

By the River Glen under a darkling sky and in the middle of nowhere I encountered two more East Europeans. One was tall, blond and unwell-looking, the other short, dark and unwell-looking, they were both carrying cans of strong drink. ‘We look place for fish’, they explained, unsurprisingly.

I then had literally to escape through a hedge from some very alarming and much too attentive free-range cattle, again with calves and a large bull. This emergency manouvre involved leaping across a completely derelict bridge over a ditch of unknown depth, then pushing through tall nettles onto a busy main road.

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The completely derelict bridge over an ineffable chasm. This is a public footpath.

I then had to resort to scampering illegitimately up a private track through bulb fields to reach a vital footbridge, clearly shown on the OS map, over the deep and otherwise impassable South Forty Foot Drain. I’d seen this bridge featured on several hiking websites as the best escape route for walkers heading westwards from the Fens into the Wolds.

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Had I not been harassed by the cattle I’d have approached the vital bridge up this public footpath.

The vital narrow footbridge had been not only chained up but blocked with a pallet by its incredibly unhelpful and antisocial owners! Going back and around would have added about four miles to a long day. I had to risk my life clambering around outside the barrier, hanging my body and rucksack terrifyingly over the opaque and possibly bottomless water, no doubt infested with man-eating Zander.

I would have used some choice language too but I was being watched with amusement by a jolly lady who lived in the Forty Foot Farm house on the far side, a bizarrely isolated homestead even by Lincolnshire standards. ‘No idea why they’ve done that, it’s not my fault. They’ve gone and blocked the next bridge too’. ‘Gits.’

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This was actually a very exciting point on my hike. For the first time, in the far distance, on that darkening horizon, I could distinctly make out a line of hills. Hills! OK, wolds.

It had started intermittently to rain again and I was exhausted. After all the day’s excitements it was a relief further along Morton Drove to spot a small wood full of fly-tipping that would conceal me from the track. On the far side was a wet patch of thistles and nettles, heaving with horseflies, mosquitoes, spiders, ants, slugs and moths. A perfect bivy. I slapped insect repellent over everything.

Supper was reduced item sarnies from Spalding Boots. For some reason their dominant flavour seemed to be insect repellent, which I suppose was appropriate for sandwiches from a chemist. An email from my partner telling me she’d just had to remove her first tick of the year greatly cheered me up, as I lay alone in a benighted swamp teeming with assorted invertebrates.

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Another day, another dodgy bivy. At least my gear was dry.

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Sunset among the bugs.

 

I’ve often found that the more unlikely the campsite the better the night, and this was no exception, I kept dry and slept well with only the soothing sounds of the countryside – a little random shooting, a little deranged shouting and a couple of souped-up cars racing up the track at an unholy hour. Soon after I got going, though, the rain returned, heavy and implacable; I could see from the sky that it was set in for the morning.

It made taking photos difficult as I was relying on my phone for navigation so couldn’t let it get soaked.  I already had a problem in this department as the OS Map I’d carefully downloaded in Spalding Wetherspoons refused to display.

Hence early on I got horrendously lost in a massive and obviously very private wood that was beautifully managed as a nature reserve with nest boxes everywhere. The track I followed into it petered out and I’d still be going round in circles in there now if I hadn’t hoicked everything out of my rucksack in the rain to find my emergency compass. It was ridiculously confusing.

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One of the biggest and most beautiful woods I’ve ever set foot in, except that I clearly wasn’t meant to be in there and once inside it I just walked round in circles in the pouring rain.

Escaping from the wood I scuttled furtively across some very manicured and expensively fenced farmland, disturbing a large herd of beautiful Fallow Deer which I suspect were there for more than just decoration. Living in the countryside myself I understand farmers’ frustration at finding lost walkers on their land, but there’s a big difference between walkers just out for a day who can pick and choose their paths and genuine travellers, trying to progress across the landscape on a long expedition in a particular direction.

I’m not sure how far I’d go in asserting my ancient rights to access the land (it would probably depend on how big the farmer was) but I do feel some slack should be cut for those who are legitimately journeying on foot, rather than just stretching their legs. There’s very few of us, so our impact is rather small, and we tend to be very well-behaved. Nonetheless, as Robert Twigger observes in his book Walking the Great North Line, middle class guilt at trespassing dies hard and I was glad finally to find a narrow lane at the top of a long, gradual and very wet ascent into, as I now realised, the Lincolnshire Wolds.

There followed rather a lot of road walking, which I came to quite like in the end as the intermittent alternatives were either soaking wet waist-high oilseed rape or clay so sticky that after a few steps my feet felt as if they were stuck in bowling balls.

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Wet rape…

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Wet clay…

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Wet wheat…

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This famer has at least helpfully cleared the public footpaths through his monoculture of ryegrass, by spraying them with herbicide. The ideal walk for families and pets.

The stone churches in these parts are fabulous but I was so wet and fed up I couldn’t much be bothered with them, although I did nip into St Andrew’s at Irnham, the original home of the Luttrell Psalter. Admittedly though this was only to get a brief respite from the rain and cheekily to top my phone up with power of the holy spirit ( I put a quid in the box).

I’d consumed nothing but tap water and a couple of nutty bars since waking up at five, so by the time I got to Boothby Pagnell around one o’clock I was running on empty.

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Once into the Wolds one has moved into a new architectural zone, the stone zone. In sunshine Boothby Pagnell church would glow a warm honey colour. In teeming rain it’s just kind of stony.

By the road I saw what looked like a village hall with a coffee machine visible in one window. I had a snoop around – sometimes community centres sell refreshments. It was in fact a private workplace but thanks to my advanced skills in looking pathetic a very friendly agronomist called Helen gave me a life-saving mug of coffee and some of the cookies she was putting out for her farmer clients on a training course in the adjacent seminar room. Probably a training course in grant applications, judging by the Range Rovers in the car park. Thank you Helen. If I typed all the interesting things I learnt from chatting to people on this hike the blog would go on for ever.

Thank goodness at Old Sommerby there was a ‘family food’ pub, the only disadvantage of which was the music – I had to sit through the appalling “I Will Leave a Light On” man, whose mawkish caterwauling is right up there with “I Would Do Anything for Love” and “I Drove All Night – Is that Alright?” in my pantheon of most pathetic male vocals ever recorded.

The food wasn’t great either; my Pepper Jack Steak Sub was a bog-standard half baguette with a few shards of gristly meat and meagre onions covered in what looked like dirt-freckled mucus. I ordered ‘curly fries’ too, because I was on holiday; they tasted like sunburnt Pringles. I was so wet and cold and so glad of anything above air temperature to eat that I enthused wildly over this mediocre fodder, telling the staff it was, yeah, like, the best lunch ever, lovely.

They were wreathed in smiles, everyone was happy, and thus doth our spiral of dishonest dietary degradation ever tighten. Once I got to Grantham, I decided, I might as well go for broke and have a doner kebab for tea.

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Wow, that looks like a big old place…

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I pick all the most atmospheric routes…

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c2c-grantham-wetherspoons-selfieGrantham is big indeed but not baffling as I’d been there before on my recce, when I’d stayed at the excellent Red House BnB in which for tonight the lovely Amy had let me book her charming little single room at an advantageous rate. Not only was I looking forward to that luxury, but through a cunning bit of planning my route into town took me right past Wetherspoons. Well, when I say ‘past’, I mean ‘into’. Serendipitously they had, at £1.99 a pint, a completely delicious porter from the local Newby Wyke Brewery. It was called Dark Squall.

It was so great to be indoors that I only ventured a couple of blocks to the nearest kebab shop before hunkering down for the night, having first been initiated by Amy into the high-tech mysteries of the electronic shower control panel. They have everything in Grantham, you know.

I’d survived some long days and some pretty marginal nights. My feet were bad but I was still moving. I’d seen a lot and learnt a lot and I was barely a quarter of the way along the Cosmic Solstice Rebirth Pilgrimage.

 

Over an excellent hot breakfast cooked by two Filipinas a nice woman from the Channel Islands told me lots of interesting information about that singular archipelago, but that wasn’t what I was on this hike to learn about. I had to get back out into England, buy yet more blister plasters, buy yet more food and find my way in yet more rain out of town to the Grantham Canal, the beginning of which is completely obscure and which I might never have located had I not checked it out six months previously.

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Surprise surprise, it was raining again…

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Historic Grantham, in the rain.

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Contemporary Grantham, in the rain.

Outside the Isaac Newton Shopping Mall (I kid you not) I fell in with an energetic chap walking to work. Past the canal, he said, mind if I walk with you? I was all set to pump him for interesting information about Grantham, but all he wanted to do was tell me about his childhood holidays in Norfolk! He was a fast walker and I couldn’t keep up on my sore feet, I had to shake his hand and let him go, unburdened of all his Blakeney tales.

At the canal I was viciously attacked by a misbegotten Pug. ‘Sorry mate, it’s the red jacket, ‘e thinks you’re a postie’. I’d had no trouble with this jacket anywhere in the nice, safe Scottish Highlands but in the hazardous English Lowlands it was proving a liability.

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Nice weather for ducks…

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All I had to do today was walk along a canal. In the rain.

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This water is not the canal. The canal is over there on the left. This water is the towpath, which the canal has decided to visit.

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On the left, the towpath. On the right, a canal of unknown depth. I was glad I didn’t have to tell the difference in the dark.

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OMG, towpath diversion, what now…?

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This now. They were rebuilding an entire lock from scratch, and at mind-boggling expense. All together now – ‘what a wonderful country’, etc.

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The Mucky Duck is great, although canalside pubs weren’t quite like this in my day.

It was lucky that Pug hadn’t followed me into the Mucky Duck at Woolsthorpe Wharf, into which I weakly strayed for mood-lifting scotch and hot soup (very nice too). The only other customers were three rotund gentlemen discussing foxhunting and farm diversification, and all wearing bright red waistcoats.

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The ecology of the canal was amazingly varied. Rather a lot of Azolla on this section.

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Here Reedmace.

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Here Norfolk Reed, appropriately enough heaving with with Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings.

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This section is upwardly mobile, it has ascent from Natural England…

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I’m not convinced dredging will necessarily ‘improve the habitat’ for all aquatic species, nesting Swans for example.

Finally after several more hours of rain I was faced with a tricky choice. Would I virtuously continue along the canal around a long bend, visiting the historic disused Bottesford Wharf, or should I cut the corner along a public footpath to Redmile where the map showed a pub.

OK, it wasn’t that tricky a choice. The Windmill at Redmile is a truly wonderful pub, exactly as all canal pubs used to be with a warm fire, a friendly landlady and excellent ales at only £3.30 a pint, and not in a chain pub either. On any one of those grounds I could have lingered in there for a very long time.c2c-windmill-pub-redmile

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St Peter’s church at Redmile is built from the familiar honey-coloured stone, but the gravestones are of slate, as if I was already in Wales. Apparently there’s a local outcrop of the stuff.

Redmile, by the way, is in Leicestershire, so here this episode rightly ends, warm and a little tiddly. In real life things aren’t so tidy; all too often there’s a couple more hours of wet hiking and a complete inability to find a sensible place to sleep.

Eventually a small patch of soaking long grass a few yards from the towpath seems the only respite. The rain continues through the night. One wakes every half an hour, cold and in deep discomfort, wondering whether one might imminently be needing a life jacket as the adjacent canal brims over.

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My skin crawls at the memory of this dreadful bivy, I was already soaked by the long, wet grass by the time I’d even got my head under the tarp. Never again will I hike anywhere in ‘summer’ without a proper tent.

c2c-canal-bivy-pieStill, at least I had a top quality supper and, in other news, I may have been at this point actually in Nottinghamshire. Once again, though, I fear I couldn’t have cared less where I was, although I did retain a certain interest in why and for how much longer.

→ Episode 3. The Heart of England

14 comments

  1. Good to see you didn’t let the weather stop your explorations of the area. it looks interesting even in the bad weather.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I did stumble upon some pretty interesting places. Thanks for reading 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, that clay! You have my sympathies. I’ve had that issue, most recently on Thursday. Feels like one is walking on stilts by the end. Must be hard to get it cleaned off properly when “on the road”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, yes, a year later I still occasionally get a bit of friendly teasing on Facebook from AirBnB proprietors about their showers!

      Like

  3. Oh, that picture of you next to the advertisements is a classic! The expression on your face in juxtaposition with admonishments to “feel the burn” etc. I laughed and laughed. Thanks, as ever, for your journal(s).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, yes it was an unmissable photo opportunity, glad you liked it 😉

      Like

  4. Phew! that was a long read! Lots of amusing bits though – especially liked the caption on the thrown-out lunch-box photo about it not having a sell-by date! My friend was on the Pennine Way and he found a sealed Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney pie! Luckily he had a tin opener and stove…

    I hate unmown fields in the wet too – you can get totally soaked in just one field!

    As to cows – they’re really not that bad – they’re mainly curious and not generally malign at all. Have a read of my ‘Animal Attacks’ post as there’s quite a bit in there about cows and how benign they generally are – also how to handle them when they’re more playful! See below for the link:

    https://mountaincowardadventures.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/animal-attacks/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, I’ll have a look. I should call my blog Cowcoward. I never used to have trouble with them but in the last couple of years it’s become fashionable to run them in free range family groups, complete with calves and the bull. This is probably why the organic milk in Tesco is now also labelled ‘free range’. It was these mixed age-sex family groups that were so intimidating. I’ve never had trouble with just cows, or just bullocks.
      These blogs are a bit long, but then it was a long walk. I wondered about splitting them up. Thanks for persevering.

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      1. There’s be a lot of blogs called ‘cowcoward’ I think

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  5. Did you find my post any help?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes thank you, very informative. I’ve always found horses more worrying than single sex/age herds of cattle but these family groups of cattle seem to be a new thing. Much nicer for the animals I imagine, and if you’re on the other side of the fence it’s wonderful to see them behaving so naturally. We run half a dozen Highlands on our heath here in winter and they’re wonderfully gentle, bombproof even with free range dogs (so far anyway!)

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      1. I’d say the only thing Highland cattle are dangerous to are cars! I’ve often camped in my car down a glen where there’s been a herd of Highlands and awoken to find they’re gathered all around my car looking for places to scratch themselves. Those horns are a real danger to bodywork and I knew of a chap whose car was written off by the time he came back from a walk!

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      2. I bet. They do get pretty frisky when you’re trying to lure them out of your nature reserve with a bucket of sheep nuts, as I once had to do when six of them had found an inadequate bit of fence. For some reason sheep nuts get them very excited!

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      3. They’re like me – ANY food gets them excited! 😉

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