- Day: 15
- Started at: Bideford Premier Inn
- Finished at: Brightlycott Farm, nr Barnstaple
- Miles: 13.5
- Miles from LE: 172
- Duration: 7.75hrs (9:15-17:00)
- Trig points visited: 0
- Ales imbibed: Tribute
Today was all about tarmac and mostly flat tarmac too. Bizarrely I was actually fantasising about the knarly ups and downs of the SWCP, I think I miss them! I did enough of them that the total ascent (and descent) adds up to over 8,000m. That’s the equivalent ascent of Everest – although differing atmospheric conditions, but still, Everest? Mental. So I would’ve thought I’d be relieved to get away from them, instead I quite miss the salty air and looking out to my left and pondering as one does when faced with a large body of water. Or is that just me?!
I headed in and then out of Bideford on the pavement, over the bridge and picked up the Tarka Trail and it was this that I followed for the next 9 miles to Barnstaple. Quite a few of you will probably know, but for those that don’t, it’s not so much a ‘trail’ in the trail running sense of the word. It’s predominantly a disused railway that has been tarmacked and broadly follows the route of Tarka the Otter from the novel of the same name. (I should add that one to the reading list, although I’ve not yet finished Poldark and I’m going to be out the other side of Devon in no time). The route is perfect for a gentle cycle, which I do believe I did a mere 19 years ago, not so much fun in baking heat with a heavy backpack.
Once I’d picked up my next map parcel at Barnstaple – thanks mum and dad! – and sent my used maps home it was off up the considerable hill to the campsite via the road. So the full 13.5mile was on tarmac and I can certainly feel it in my feet, muscles and joints – I will try to avoid many more days like this if I can.
So today was a bit dull but I have now completed ‘Section 1’ of 6 in the guidebook. It’s a bit arbitrary and it’s the shortest section(!) but it’s a good motivational tool – 1 stage done, just rinse and repeat, 5 more times! Maybe I’ll just get though tomorrow first!