One foot in front of the other: London to Bristol!

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…

Cutty Sark - Greenwich

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!

On the Thames Clipper

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.

The Shadows, on Tour!

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…

Berghans

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.

Are we there yet?

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!

Bristol!

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!

Ebo Taylor - Legend!

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Caminito del Rey – Finally Being Fixed

After many false starts, the world-famous Caminito del Rey is finally being made safe so that many more people can enjoy this thrilling walkway – thankfully we got to bag this a couple of times over the years by using our Via Ferrata and Climbing gear to gain access, we were able to enjoy this unique place.

Welcome Stranger to the Humble Neighbourhood

I love this song by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros – the energy of the man is amazing and the list of food is fantastic and this song always makes me smile. It’s also a great antidote to all the bullshit spouted by the likes of UKIP – I mean, where would we be without Bombay Duck, Balti Curry, Beigals, Houmous, Cous Cous, Tikka, Lassi and all the other great food we enjoy from all corners of the globe?

Hole in the Box

Box Freestone Mine is located on the outskirts of Box village, just off junction 17 of the M4. Again like so many of our trips, this one was conceived in the pub with emails going out the very next day. Several weeks later here we were, getting ready to enter these vast underground tunnels.

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This limestone quarry has been mined since Roman times though this came to halt during the very early 70s. Now its visited by intrepid explorers and the curious – buying maps from the local pub, the very good Quarrymans Arms (who looked after us once we’d finished our adventures) and is also the place where you can pick up the key to gain access to the mines.

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The tunnels are vast and if I remember correctly, are broken up in to three distinct areas Northern, Southern and one other area which I can’t remember!

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We had a great time, the mine is very impressive – there were discarded tools, old wooden cranes, graffiti going back to when the mines were mined and areas of tunnel that were collapsed.

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We were underground for a good few hours before finishing up at a place called the Cathedral, natural light teeming in from the hole above – its only whilst you have someone stood there that you get a sense of how large this space is.

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We exited the mine into someones garden (a seriously impressive garden it was too) and headed straight to the pub – not more than 100m from where we came above ground.

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A great session in the pub was the perfect end to the day with most of us opting for the very quaffable mole beer!

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Sleaford Mods – Donkey

Recently found this Nottingham based band and been completely blown away – the music is raw, aggressive and unlike anything else out there. I missed Punk first time around and feel that this very much has that DIY feel – compared to everything xfactor and music in general, this really hits the spot.

I’ve not stopped playing them and can’t wait to see them live in the next couple of months – enjoy!

Visiting the Seaside

Hearing some of my good friends were visiting other good friends(!) I decided to jump in the car and gatecrash the party and pleased I did. We had great food and many laughs, catching up on each of our lives – it was good to see everyone.

Earlier today we decided to go for a walk along Brighton Pier – typically, it being a bank holiday weekend, it was teeming with rain!

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