The first question is whether it all adds up to 102 miles?
After a good breakfast in the excellent Little Smithy, Joanna Bowman kindly bid me farewell and I resolved that given the great quality of the B&B’s I had stayed in this trail, that I would always seek them out in preference.
The only problem here was a lack of Internet access, meaning I had to duck out of a Skype call which I had wanted to be in on. I did manage a phone signal here, so not all was lost.
However having a bit of respite from being permanently connected was great although the guilt still lingered,
I had checked the forecast several times and it seemed to change every time – sometimes sunshine, sometimes showers and so I opted for caution and took the rain jacket, which proved a wise move when being hailed on at around midday.
A lovely stretch of the walk, much better than I was expecting, with rolling countryside and some stunning views across to Bristol, both Severn bridges, and then down into Bath itself.
Of course the walk wouldn’t have been true to form if it hadn’t taken me up some steep hills in Bath itself, as if to say, don’t expect it to be downhill all the way on the last day…
I grabbed a sandwich in Pennsylvania, dodged a herd of aggressive cows (sadly I seem to be able to tell now which ones are going to be calm, and which not), wrote some positive comments in the trail book along the way, ( some Aussies said it wasn’t as good as either the Pennine Way or the Peak District – we shall see), and despite worrying about last day blisters, didn’t get any.
Did I mention I love my new boots?
The walk ending in Bath is spot on, I wouldn’t have wanted to do it in the reverse direction as it seemed a very long uphill section and leaving Bath behind would have been tough. The World Heritage City (why do we only have one in England?) glistened in the sun below and the rainbow beckoned to the golden architectural treasures at the end of it.
Reaching the Abbey is always slightly anticlimactic, but I took 15 minutes to sit in a sunny spot and enjoy the satisfying feeling of completing the trip. What a great setting.
The Oldfields House was 20 minutes up the hill outside the centre and the steps up to the small but perfectly formed attic room kept me limbered up. Small touches of quality here meant I would recommend my choice, like my welcome by the lady from Knysna, the quality of the breakfast and the Molton Brown toiletries.
Smelling better than I had all week, I set off early for a few beers, only to discover that I had to wander around for 20 minutes at least to get a phone signal. A great guitarist busking outside the baths was worthy of support and eventually I passed on the upmarket wine bars and crammed myself into the Volunteer Riflemans Arms attracted by the sign for a pint of Butcombe Ale. The drunk coming in to sing to us all encouraged me to move on, and I headed for the Huntsman, having taken the details of the virtual cache at the Abbey en route.
After a swift pint of something unmemorable there, the local Thai beckoned, and I had a pleasant Tom Kha Gai, and a Red Prawn Curry, before taking in the hysterical walking comedy show “Bizarre Bath”.
It’s a must if you are in the city and I won’t spoil it for you but the £8 gave me and the other 60-70 people great value entertainment for 100 or so minutes.
Tired in leg and with stomach muscles feeling sore from laughing so much, back to the Oldfields by the shortcut I had discovered for a great nights sleep and a full English in the morning.
Altogether a wonderful week, of ups and downs in trail walking terms, but all ups in terms of the experience.
And did I mention my boots were brilliant?