Sunday, 30 June 2013

From Tewkesbury to Chepstow in two easy plods.

So here we are in Chepstow, tomorrow morn we will cross back over The River Severn on Shank's Pony, and begin the final push to Lands End. The weather is now set fair, The British Lions are square with Oz in the rugby, and Wimbledon looks there for the taking Mr. Murray. In just under two weeks the English cricket team will begin their defence of The Ashes, and we shall complete the big plod.

Back, though, to Thursday first. We arrived in Tewkesbury pretty wet and bedraggled after much plodding through the wet long grass alongside the Severn. The Severn Way, it must be said, is a bit of a disappointment. For so much of the route the path is a few hundred yards away in fields, with the river barely visible through the distant trees. When it does go alongside the river it is really rather pleasant, but this is nowhere near even half of the distance that we covered from Bridgnorth to Gloucester. The paths that slip through fields are very badly overgrown, and walking through them is very tiresome and progress slow. When the grass is wet, this becomes awful, with wet grass up to one's waist, a soaking takes little time atall. Even the most waterproof of boots will succome to leakage when plodding for hours through such ground, but there it was, my choice of route from Shropshire to Bristol was a naff one, and will remain a lesson learnt. Having said that, though, where the river runs through the many lovely little villages and towns along the way, the scenery can be stunning, Worcester and Stourport being very much my own favourites. I thouroughly recommend the Severn for boating, not for walking!
Anyway, my good friends Steve and Jane Brooks had come all the way over from Aylesbury for the evening, and even managed to book in at the same hotel as us - The Tudor House Hotel in Tewkesbury.

A very nice hotel indeed, The Tudor House, the food was excellent, the ale excellent - Spitfire, Black Sheep, Butcombe - and the service was very good indeed! Assistant manager Kurt could not have been more helpful, even supplying newspaper to stuff in wet boots and making a radiator in the bar available for us to park wet gear on overnight, to ensure dry kit for the start of Friday morning. Thanks Kurt, top man. The young young who took over from Kurt in the morning was equally helpful, so thank you very much all at The Tudor House in Tewkesbury.

Friday morn was also a wet start, though not too much fell from the sky, the problem being as before. Ten more miles along the Severn Way through wet long grass made for wet plodding again, until we hit Gloucester and headed for the roads - a relief, strangely.

The route from Gloucester to Littledean was a fairly arduous plod of 12 miles along the A48, with time pressing on, and feet beginning to complain. We finally arrived at The Belfry Hotel in Littledean just after 8 p.m. A rushed shower, quick change, and just in time to order dinner!

Liz was exhausted and with no signal for either phone or computer, got off to sleep just after dinner.The Belfry was very comfortable, though very busy and with three parties going on there was a lot of noise until well into the small hours, but tired plodders drop off quickly regardelss of noise!

 A good breakfast at The Belfry, after a good rest, and we left for Chepstow at 10 a.m. The views of the Severn from high on the hill in Littledean were pretty good, as we headed down through Newnham towards the A48.

The sun burnt off the morning cloud pretty quickly, and left a warm, sunny day for the 18 miles to Chepstow. A pretty nice road plod, though on the A48 the whole way, plenty of footpath and wide verge available to make for easyish walking. The Forest of Dean keeping you company to the West and the River Severn growing ever wider to the East.

At around 5.15 we crossed the bridge over The Wye River, and a few more short steps and we were at our stop for the night. The Castle View Hotel. Liz's pals - Geoff, Sharon and Bruno were meeting us for the evening - as well as two days of bag shift - thanks very much indeed you three!, and a very splendid evening it was!
The River Wye in Chepstow.

and I managed to snap the brief but colourful sunset, inbetween good chat and drinking with a splendid bunch
Liz with Geoff, Bruno and Sharon at The Boat Inn, on the river.
A very good pub; reasonable prices, good ale, great location on the riverside, and good company for the evening. We stayed at a decent comfortable hotel also, The Castle View.
There it is then, 7 weeks plodding completed, and today we cross the river to begin the last push through Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall. Just 2 weeks' left...
Alec Hawkes 30.06.13
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