Like many of our adventures, this began in the pub with the plan being to attend an Ebo Taylor gig in Bristol and rather than take the train, we thought we might walk 100 plus miles over several days – it seemed a good idea at the time so the three of us; myself, Tug and the Vicker set off from London, early on a Tuesday with the aim to walk all the way hhe way meeting up with Vodka Dave near Bath and after that, taking in the gig – returning to London six days later on the Monday…
Setting off early, we grabbed a quick breakfast in Maggie’s Cafe in Lewisham – steak, chips and mushrooms for me with the other two going for the full English and whilst breakfasting (and chatting with the owner) it began to dawn on us what the next few days might hold, the weather was looking grim and Bristol was a long long way away!
The morning was glorious and to make up time leaving London we decided we’d take the Thames Clipper from Greenwich to Putney, all three of us feeling very Beckham like as we hurtled down the Thames sweeping past Canary Wharf which was looking spectacular in the morning sunshine. Before too long we could see the Tower Bridge, the Shard with the rest of the city opening up as we came around one of the large sweeping bends of the Thames. Passing under the various bridges, full of commuters heading to work – our spirits were soaring and we were all looking forward to our adventure properly starting.
Once ashore, we followed the Thames out of London and before long we settled into our routine – one step in front of the over, keep moving forward and I think all three of us (whilst we didn’t say anything) probably felt that this initial part of the walk was probably the most difficult – our berghans were beginning to cut into our shoulders, we were carrying our camping equipment plus food and water, they were beginning to feel quite heavy! This was also, in my mind anyway, our longest day – we wanted to get outside of London and beyond the M25 and all day long we could see planes flying in to and out of Heathrow…
Eventually, sometime after Reading we left the Thames and picked up the Kennet & Avon Canal which was to be our ‘map’ for the next several days as we followed this pretty much all the way to Bath before picking up the River Avon into our final destination of Bristol. Walking the canal was an amazing experience though was difficult as the ground was quite rough and stony but we all cracked on, all enjoying the solitude of the countryside with the odd barge passing us by, swapping greetings with the owners of these barges. Before long we were alongside the M4 which wasn’t the best part of our walk – lorries and cars screaming past us as we continued our walk.
We stopped off at some great pubs and we always made the comment that ‘…tonight would be the night we got on it..!’ and bar one night, we didn’t really get ‘on-it’ as we were shattered and after a big pub dinner and a couple of pints, climbed into our sleeping bags, exhausted! Our best night was Friday when we met up with our really good mate, Vodka Dave who drove over to meet us. Our initial plan was to meet up in Bradford on Avon though not being to enamoured by the pubs there opted to carry on walking to a recommendation, that being the Cross Guns in Avoncliff – we had a fantastic night and drank too much and ate some very good food. It was good to see Vodka Dave too and to catch up with him. Later that evening a young couple came in with a guitar and set about entertaining us and several others in the bar – singing along to a song from the Jungle Book was a blast! We got chatting with them and on hearing of our trip, invited us back to theres so we could sleep in a bed – we couldn’t believe our luck and whilst it meant backtracking to Bradford on Avon, took them up on their very kind offer and headed back to their place!
The next day began very slowly – we’d been up into the early hours, drinking whiskey and generally chatting with our newly found friends! This part of the walk was particularly breathtaking and was definitely the better end of the canal! Before long we were heading through Bath which is a beautiful city where we stopped for tea and an ice cream – it was here we found out that Tug is terrified of Ducks!
Eventually we arrived into Bristol where our journey ended – we took some pictures at the John Cabot Statue on the waterfront and grabbed our room at the hostel. That night we met up with our friends Richard and Lucy (and their friends) and wend to see Ebo Taylor perform – he was fantastic and though we were tired, our legs and bodies were aching, boogied into the night and had a thoroughly great end to our walk!