We finally got our shit together this morning, bussed from our hotel back into Bridgwater and restarted the trail where we left off at the train station. Right then. Four more days and we should be starting the Offa’s Dyke Path all being well. Assuming we can actually get through the footpaths and they’re not impenetrable walls of brambles.
It didn’t take the trail long to go to shit. It was your standard overgrown crap until we got to a field with the footpath arrow pointing us diagonally through a field of wheat. Obviously that wasn’t an option so we pushed our way around the edge until we physically couldn’t get through the mess of spiky shit. I sighed and resisted the urge to just sit down and cry. We ended up pushing through the crop to get to those tractor lines you see in fields and followed that until we had to push through the wheat again to get to the right of way to leave the field.
There were a couple more fields like this but I’m as bored talking about them as I am doing battle with them. We sat down for some lunch on a bench and worked out we could skip a mile of footpath in favour of a cycle path. That’d do. Remember when I spent a whole fucking day whinging about cycle paths whilst we plodded between Appledore and Braunton? I take it all back. They even have things like benches along cycle paths. We barely even have footpaths on our footpaths, never mind luxuries like actual benches.
We also ended up following a shit tonne of roads and three weeks ago I would have been incredibly annoyed at this. I’d have had a right tantrum. Foot stamping and eye rolling and dramatic sighing. The works. Now I’m fucking relishing it, roads are lesser of two evils. Can’t plant a fucking wheat field over a road can you?!
It was mostly easy going into Blackford along glorious, glorious tarmac, but then there was a terrifying footbridge between two fields over a stream which didn’t look like it had plans to remain a footbridge for much longer. If it made Tarrant’s bumhole twitch you know shit got real. We were secretly hoping the pub in Blackford would be open but realistically, pubs around here seem to close between 2.30pm and 6pm, or similar.
It was indeed closed so we sat outside the Holy Trinity Church for a bit to rest our poor, battered feet. Roads are great for not getting randomly stabbed by an errant thistle but your feet won’t thank you for them. This church also has a tap inside in what looks it it was, or could be, a little kitchen so that solved our “where do we refill our bottles without risking stacking it head first into a stagnant stream?” problem.
More of the same ensued, a long, flat restricted byway, a few horrible fields, then there were the cows. They’re at that fucking age now aren’t they. A herd of juveniles were lying in the middle of a field so we gave them a lovely, wide berth hoping they’d just stay there and eat their grass, but nope. They got up en masse and ran towards us. I think I did quite well to retain control of my bowels.
Tarrant loudly shooed them away as I walked rapidly towards the exit, panicking vocally. One ran right up behind her but she heard it and shouted at it. The fuckers followed us all the way to the stile. A woman with two dogs off-lead realised too late that the cowocalypse was occurring, they were playful but fortunately were more interested in us rather than the bovine terror. Isn’t this how people get trampled? Dogs off-lead? She managed to get them back to the other field, we followed, and the cows loitered as if daring us to come and have another go at walking through their field.
It wasn’t long after that we found a lovely, mowed field with exactly zero evidence that a cow had ever set foot in it so we set ourselves up in a corner. Obviously I’ll still lie awake all night worrying that the farmer will randomly decide to let them in from the next field in the middle of the night because he’s got insomnia or some shit and thought he might as well get a head start on his day.
So I’m struggling a lot at the moment. I think everything has gotten on top of me, with being so poorly that we had to take time off, to being worried about the state of the trails and whether we’d even be able to get through them or not, then having to spend over £400 on a phone when I only bought a new one 18 months ago and fully expected it to last a lot longer. I don’t know, it’s everything and nothing. I’m crying a lot on the trail for little to no reason, nothing triggers it, I just get overwhelmed and anxious and it all squirts out through my eyeholes.
I’m a planner. I’m like to know what my future holds and planning helps keep me grounded and steady. This style of hiking and wild camping, whilst I came to really, genuinely enjoy it on the South West Coast Path, does cause me a lot of stress. Not knowing how far you’re going to walk, not knowing where you’re going to camp or how far you’ll have to go before you find somewhere suitable, we’ve done it a few times even before this adventure and I do like the freedom it affords, but I need to be in the right frame of mind for it.
Right now it’s causing me more distress than joy. I’m not having a good time. So we’ve booked a hotel for tomorrow and we’ll likely book one for the night afterwards too and already I feel so much better for it, just having a destination to aim for. We’d rather use a campsite of course, mainly for financial reasons, hotels are a lot more than we want to spend, but I couldn’t find a campsite so hotels will have to do.
Anyway. That’s that for now. If you’ll excuse me I’m going to try and get some sleep before the insomniac farmer of my anxious imagination lets the cows in to trample us.
Bridgwater, Somerset to Washbrook, Somerset, England
Stayed at: Wild camp in the corner of a field
Useful shit to know…
- There aren’t many amenities on this stretch, and in fact once you’re out of Bridgwater there’s nothing until Blackford.
- There’s no shop in Blackford, just the pub, The Sexeys Arms. I called and was told it opened at 6.30pm on the Saturday. There are no opening times listed online so if you’re relying on it for a meal or anything it’s best to call and check they’ll be open. 01934 712487.