The day started with large quantities of judgemental sheep glaring at us as we shuffled our way to the first trig of the day. All I wanted to do was look at a lump of concrete and they made me feel like I’d got home too late after getting drunk, tripped over the expensive rug, dented the skirting board with my face and vomited in their shoes. These sheep gave no fucks at all, only shifting from the path at the last minute and I swear one of them rolled its eyes.
It should, in theory, just be a fifteen mile day today but we do have a tendency to wander off. We’d decided to get a few miles in before breakfast and ended up at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Exton because churches always have benches and breakfast on a bench is always nicer than breakfast in a nettle patch on the side of the trail. I’m not a fan of organised religion at all but I do like a nice building and churches are often really nice buildings.
So the thing with the western end of this trail is that it’s a lot less viewsy. You don’t get the sweeping landscape porn of the eastern end, it’s more the classic British farmland look, and you know what farms have? Cows. Fuck tonnes of them. As we approached one field the charred little brick that passes for my heart sank as I realised that the literally hundred of dots all over it were cows, and the trail went right through the fucking middle.
You are shitting me. It was like the cowocalypse. If I didn’t have Tarrant to throw in front of me I might have just gone back to Eastbourne. There were too many of the starey buggers, we shuffled through them as eyes turned to follow us through the field. I just stuck as close to Tarrant as I could and whimpered a bit as she shooed the more stubborn bovines away. My hero.
We knew today would be a mostly uneventful plod though. You know how the last few miles of a walk are always the hardest? Like, regardless of the length of the walk, be it ten miles or twenty, the last two or three might as well be a hundred. Rather than powering through fuelled by snack bars and determination we thought we’d be nice to ourselves and eventually sat down for some lunch.
Tarrant decided this would be the perfect time to check out yesterday’s blisters and stab them with a knife. What a wonderful lunchtime activity. Though I can’t say shit, I use lunchtimes to chop calluses off my feet. We are a delight. We’re definitely the reason straight men like lesbians. Her shoes have already started to disintegrate though hence the shit state of her feet which isn’t ideal.
A bit more plodding, one last side quest to a trigpoint called Cheesefoot Head (no, really) and to relieve a man in a food van of a can of Cawford Press which is my current obsession, then some more plodding into the very pretty city of Winchester. The river Itchen runs right through it, really quite quickly too, you wouldn’t want to fall in after a few pints, and everywhere you look there’s a random bit of history.
I don’t know if the pavements in Winchester are extra, ultra hard or if my feet were just over this shit, but oh my gosh it was a struggle. The worse thing was, the end-of-trail marker was locked a few metres behind a gate at the City Mill which didn’t open for two days. Nooooo! Well I’m not fucking going back and doing it again when they’re open, we’ll have to just wave at it and call it finished. Obviously whilst pointedly ignoring the fact that we still have about 1900 miles to go and we’re nowhere near bloody finished.
One last push through town via a Sainsbury’s for picky tea supplies and a few beers, because once we were in our room we were in, and had exactly zero intention of leaving our room again that afternoon. We checked in, showered vigorously, washed a bunch of clothes in the sink and promptly got pâté all over the bed sheets so now it looks like we’re into some really niche kinky stuff.
Day on SDW: 6
Distance walked today: 16 miles
Total walked so far: 114.2 miles
Weather: Bit colder with q chilly wind, slightly hazy but that cleared.
Coldest temp last night: 10.25°C inside / 8.69°C outside
Trigs bagged: 3
Trigs to date: 16
“Have you read ‘The Salt Path?'” (Running Total): 1
Jump to “Useful shit to know…”
Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire to Winchester, Hampshire, England
Stayed at: The Westgate, Winchester
Useful shit to know…
- If you have a filter you can get water from the River Meon, or there’s a tap behind the benches at the church in Exton, one at Lomer Farm, and another at Holden Farm which also offers camping.
- I’m not aware of any public toilets along this section but one of the cafés, pubs or campsites might let you in?
- If you’re cycling there’s actually a bicycle pump and a load of tools for public use around 51.056823, -1.235228.
BUDGET for one person
Accommodation at The Westgate, Winchester: £26.93
Soft Drinks: £1.50
Grand Total: £36.80