Walk completed August 28, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 22 -- June 22, 2011; Blackford to Yatton (North End)

Unable to find accommodations in Cheddar, I decided to leave that village and all it has to offer for some other time. That gives me an extra day to get up to Wales, and I’m not sure how best to use the time. I could tour Bristol, but everybody I’ve spoken to says that Bristol is a place to be avoided. My instincts are to head up to Wales sooner than I had planned and use the extra time there. (I’ve already got reservations in place for a full week in Wales, so the extra day must be used before the first reservation.) I’ll make that decision sometime tomorrow.

I left the B&B in good spirits, fully fed, and with a brisk step. The overcast sky persuaded me to put the rain cover on my pack, but I knew I wouldn’t need it. For at least 10 minutes. That’s when the skies opened up with the biggest deluge from the blackest cloud I’ve ever seen. I had about 20 seconds warning, which was just enough time to throw on my rain jacket. There was no cover to get out of the rain, but fortunately there was a strong side-wind, so I took shelter in the lee of a building.

Start/finish sign in Yatton
 The squall passed by in 15 minutes, and the rest of the day was dry. But no matter, my pants and feet were as wet as if I had waded through a river. I decided to follow roads rather than tackle the muddy pastures. I headed straight to Axbridge, where I changed into dry socks before picking up the Strawberry Line, a rails-to-trails walking and cycle path that runs 8 miles  from Cheddar to Yatton. It was a lovely walk, dry under foot, and in a park-like setting.

Out of Axbridge the trail passes through a long dark tunnel, lighted only by small lights similar to lane markers embedded in the trail. I could hear people passing in the other direction, but could not see them. I hope they were behaving themselves.

On the other side of the tunnel, I met Mike, a local taking his morning walk. We had a good chat all the way to where the Winscombe station once was. At that point, Mike remarked, “I’m getting off here.” I continued to chug along all the way to Yatton.

I could tell I was getting near Bristol by the number of commercial airplanes taking off overhead as I walked on the trail. When I arrived in Yatton, that conclusion was reinforced by the airport shuttle vans that drove by.

The hotel I reserved is the only one I could find north of Yatton. It appears to cater to the quick turn-around trade – folks arriving on late flights or folks spending the night near the airport for early flights. I had second thoughts about the hotel when I tried to book the room. The reservation clerk was clueless, as was the receptionist when I checked in. Other than the moldy shower, the room is not terribly bad, but the restaurant can be best described as plastic. It is run by a chain whose insignia is an H inside of a horseshoe. I don’t think the tables have been wiped down for days. Even the menus are sticky. I ordered the safest thing – a hamburger. It wasn’t bad, but the soggy fries that accompanied it were unpalatable. Such a disappointment after the good pub food I’ve had the past 3 weeks.

There is supposed to be WiFi in the bar, but my computer can’t find it. It appears that management and staff are all on the same “why bother” page.  Why bother to wipe down the table -- it'll only get dirty again.  Why bother to put soap and shampoo in the bathroom -- they only get used and need replacement again.  Why bother to cook good food -- this customer won't be back but another will take his place.  I hope this isn’t where England is headed.

Oh, well, the room is big, it’s only one night, and tomorrow I’ll be within a day of Wales.

© 2011 Ken Klug

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