Ridgeway 2

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Day 5: Goring to Letcombe Regis - 16.1 miles

Fortunately, we were a bit better in the morning and the excellent kippers helped! I stuck plasters all over my toes and we stopped off at the chemist's for a support bandage for Martyn's knee and some anti-inflammatory tablets. It was the only place we saw with any open shops, so the timing was perfect. This was to be our longest day - 16 miles - so we needed all the help we could get. It wasn't an especially picturesque walk but it was more comfortable, as sections of the path had been harrowed and were much softer underfoot. An interesting visual diversion was seen on the walls of the bridge over the A34 - see photos below. This stretch of the walk is very sparsely populated with no convenient places to detour for a break, so Martyn had arranged for a friend to pick us up and give us a lift to a pub for lunch, which was just as well as the water tap wasn't connected to the water supply and so we'd have gone rather thirsty. So at exactly the appointed hour, we all arrived at the West Ilsley turn off and made our way to The Harrow where we had a lovely lunch -and a lift back to the Ridgeway. The afternoon was uneventful and we were glad of the softer ground. Our accommodation for the night was in Letcombe Regis, in the Old Vicarage, situated just over a mile from the path - down a 1 in 10 hill. We walked past the Ridgeway Centre, a very smart youth hostel, shown in the photos below. Our B&B was lovely, a very comfortable room in a beautiful house - right opposite the pub. After walking 16.1 miles, we were grateful we didn't have too far to walk in the evening. We met friends there for dinner, so all in all, it was a very sociable day and not as difficult as the day before.

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Day 6: Letcome Regis to Bishopstone - 12.1 miles

We had a leisurely breakfast in the lovely dining room feeling rather reluctant to leave such a lovely house, especially as my feet were still quite sore. But we were glad of the lift back up the hill. We had a fair bit of rain, which did detract from the views over Uffington Castle and the White Horse, the oldest of the many white horses in the area. So we just admired the horse up close rather than walking down for a complete view. See here for more info. There wasn't anywhere on the route for lunch, so we had a picnic with us, but it was impossible to find anywhere dry to sit. The best we could manage was a stile, where we had a hurried rest and ate our food. We struggled into our waterproof trousers, which was a good move as the rain disappeared 10 minutes later. The highlight of the day was a visit to Waylands Smithy, an old longbarrow with an interesting legend attached to it. See here for more information. And descending into Bishopstone for our overnight stay, we passed a pig farm and watched the piglets charging around. What a pretty village it is, with a big duck pond. We found our B&B, Cheney Thatch, a lovely 400 year old cottage in pretty gardens shared with the ducks. Our hostess, Mrs Boot, is a real character - from such material, sitcoms are written! We had tea and cake and then met another couple who were walking the same route. That evening we ate at the True Heart pub, the landlord of which takes the prize as being the friendliest we met during the week. And the food was good too. 

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Day 7: Bishopstone to Ogbourne St George - 9.7 miles

We had breakfast with out fellow walkers - and what a breakfast it turned out to be. The best homemade muesli I have ever tasted, loads of fresh fruit, traditional English breakfast served on enormous oval dishes - I did try but was defeated early on! We were regaled with stories of past walkers, and were thoroughly entertained. And then Mrs Boot brought on the packed lunches ordered by our new friends, Chris & Derek. Martyn & I were making do with our leftovers and 'emergency supplies' but we felt a bit sorry we hadn't ordered a Mrs Boot special! I heard they were still eating it a week later............I was just grateful I didn't have to carry it all. We walked with Chris & Derek, which made a change. They had started the same day as us, but this was the only time we were staying in the same place. Mrs Boot showed us a more pleasant way to rejoin the path and off we went. We'd walked some of this section (Liddington Hill) a few weeks earlier - and it was just as windy this time, making it difficult for us to stay upright. Once in more wooded area, it was a lot warmer and easier. We had our lunch sitting on an old water tank, which was rather cold but better than sitting on the wet grass. Our destination was Ogbourne St George, near Marlborough, so back into our own territory, and at under 10 miles, a stroll in the park! We arrived as the rain started - we were staying in Parklands Hotel. The owner said he had taken one look at our cases and had to upgrade us to a bigger room! Which was nice as we had a huge bed which meant we could stretch out our aching limbs in comfort. We ate in the hotel's restaurant, which was excellent - and even more so since it was raining very hard all evening and night.

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Day 8: Ogbourne St George to Overton Hill (and then Avebury) - 11.5 miles

Slept extremely well, which was of some consolation when we looked out the window. The rain was still bucketing down so we put our heads down and got on with it. It wasn't a very good day for a walk. We met up with Chris & Derek at Barbury Castle, where the rain was torrential, and again at the end of the walk at Overton Hill. The walk wasn't much fun. The sun did come out a few times but it wasn't reliable, and a couple of minutes later, it would be dark and pouring with rain again. It was so wet it was impossible to rest anywhere and so we walked the whole 11.5 miles without a rest - certainly something I couldn't have done a few weeks earlier. We discovered what was and what wasn't waterproof. I'm glad to say my very expensive Berghaus coat was worth every penny, it kept me completely dry, but Martyn's cheaper one, which had been fine on all our other wet walks, let him down. And our boots leaked - one of Martyn's had done so the day before, hence the 'bandage' in the photo below. But it didn't stand a chance against that rain. We did consider walking directly to Avebury instead of the 'actual' end of the walk, the same distance away at Overton Hill, but I felt it was cheating, which is silly really, But I wanted a 'finish' photo. The rain held off just long enough for a photo and then started again but we had some lovely sunshine as we walked on to Avebury, along the Avenue of stones. We walked with our friends to the Red Lion pub, where we found multiple celebrations going on - morris dancing, a wedding and a childrens' party. We had a couple of beers and then our daughter came to pick us up and took Chris and Derek on to their final night's accommodation - they live near the other end of the walk. We'd planned to eat at the pub but were too wet and it was all so chaotic that we came home for Chinese meal and champagne. Strangely, it felt a bit of an anti-climax. I think we were expecting to be physically wrecked but we weren't. My blisters had virtually gone and we didn't ache, either then or the next day. We had to keep reminding ourselves that this really was a great achievement for such sloths as us! 

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So it was a very different sort of holiday for us, a challenge undertaken and achieved. I didn't lose any weight (grrr!) but I felt fit and well and would happily undertake something similar in the future. 

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Site last modified on 2nd October 2011

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