Tiverton to Wellington – 18 miles (178 total)
Yet again there was rain overnight which cleared up in time for the start of my day’s walk. Back home they are getting dreadful spells of rain and snow so, all things considered, I feel somebody is looking out for me – so far anyway.
I had a lovely 12 miles of canal walking today which was such a welcome relief after the last few days of ascent. The Grand Western Canal used to link Tiverton and Taunton but only a section of it remains. I saw a number of barges moored close to Tiverton but no movement whatsoever on the canal proper. I’m not a sailor – or should that be bargee – but large stretches of the canal looked silted up making it unnavigable. After days of walking surrounded by high hedges it was invigorating to now have views which showed me the geography for miles around. The Blackdown Hills to the east and the Quantocks to the north-east were clearly visible. The Quantocks are in my way but I’ll avoid them by following the canal from Taunton to Bridgwater.
The familiar sound of motorway traffic from the M5 reminded me that I was leaving a more rural environment and would soon be winding my way towards Taunton and the city of Bristol. Ducks with their ducklings and, occasionally, swans were my companions. On the human side, I passed lots of people out for a stroll and a few cyclists. One intriguing addition was a number of anglers, sitting immobile, on the canalside, with rods stretching almost to the far bank. I first came across this phenomenon on a Manchester canal walk some years ago. Their gear looks to be expensive and their concentration intense, but nothing moves, not them, not their rods, not the surface of the water and there is no sign of anything actually ever being caught. It’s like viewing a painting in an art gallery. There must be something incredibly special lurking in the shallow canal to excite such dedication.
The canal did, sadly, peter out, forcing me back on to the country roads, and a climb or two, for the remainder of my journey to Wellington. At one point the road ran out as well, forcing me to scramble down a thorny slope beside the A38 to resume my route.
Today’s walk also saw me move from Devon in to Somerset which I won’t leave until almost at Bristol. Once I approached the outskirts of Wellington it seemed to take for ever to reach the town centre. At 18 miles it ended up another long day.
Tomorrow’s walk to Taunton should be nice and short, a prospect which cheers me up immensely.