Thursday, 16 May 2013

12. Land's End to John O’Groats. £3,877.50 raised so far. The Angel of the South. Road Rules. Minehead and Mendips in Somerset . Robbie Brough and David Sansom walk for Emmaus Oxford.

David Sansom and Robbie Brough, or DR, as they call themselves on Twitter, are now in Bristol for a well-earned 24 hours rest. They are walking to collect money for Emmaus Oxford, which like Emmaus throughout the world is a charity housing and giving work to the homeless. So far they have collected a total including Gift Aid of £3,877.50 from 78 donors. The largest donation so far is a generous £500.00 from an anonymous donor.  


Follow them or text them if you'd like to join them during their walk: 
Twitter: Trading Places @DRtradingplaces

Minehead to Bridgwater
Had DR gone on the main roads to Bristol they would have done 186 miles, but that route of course is not suitable let alone safe, as they wouldn't be allowed to walk on motorways.   They chose the best and safest route for walkers, with plenty of camp sites on the beautiful SW coast  catering for many hikers and holidaymakers. You can see what David and Robbie have achieved so far by following the coast as far as Bideford to Barnstaple, across Exmoor to Bridgwater  and then to Bristol. The faithful pedometer which nearly got left behind clocked up 308.5 miles.
The Angel of the South, the Willow Man,
made to mark the Centenary
If DR had been on the M5 motorway near Bridgwater they would have seen the wonderful Angel of the South, the Willow Man, 12 metres (39 ft) high, sculpted by Serena de la Hey in 2000 on a steel frame in  willow, a traditional local material.  

David and Robbie are going to meet up with Companions and staff from Emmaus Bristol, but wherever they stay they follow their 4 self-imposed rules: 
  • no alcohol, 
  • no complaining 
  • no lifts forward*.
  • no sleeping in beds
They were lucky they didn't get drowned  by the incoming tide when they escaped the incoming tide near Bridgwater and had to scramble up the cliffs. 
Email from Robbie Brough, 15 May.

“Hey Mary, sorry about the delayed reply.  It has been rough! 

Left Minehead 3 days ago and went up the coast of west Somerset (which is where I took those pictures on the beach!)  It was lovely and very picturesque.

At the campsite in Minehead we got talking to Chris Bale who was on a family holiday with his wife and young daughter in a VW camper.  After offering us a coffee (which we gladly accepted) we got chatting about his work as a wildlife photographer and other common interests such as basketball. 

We left the campsite but about a mile and a half later I realised I left my pedometer (technology that tells us how far and how many steps we've walked) at the campsite.  I had to run back but luckily Chris was just about to leave and offered me a lift in his camper!  (*It’s not cheating because I'd already walked it!!)  It has always been my dream car and I was so excited to finally be in a real one! 

The day was calm and pretty as we walked past the golf courses and old army lookouts east of Minehead.  We walked past countless holiday villages and eventually settled on one in Angies Bay.  However it is still early in the season and there were no other people staying.  The park was like a ghost town and we had to pitch up without talking to anyone and slipped a tenner under the reception door in the morning! 

We then went from there through to Bridgwater half along the coast and half through the fields.  We had a shaky patch along the coast where we were unsure whether the tide was going in or out and ended up slightly stranded just past Angies Bay (turned out the tide was coming in) but after a scramble up the cliffs we found West Somerset coast path and followed that until we cut inland and made our way to Bridgwater.  There we treated ourselves to a hot cup of tea and luckily the bakery was closing and were kind enough to give us some of the food they were about to throw away!  Very kind. 

We found a campsite above Bridgwater which was lovely but unfortunately had no charity policy so we were asked to pay full price.  However as it had been raining all day all of our kit was soaking and we were feeling rough so sat in the warm shower area eating dinner!  This morning we set out at 7.30 and made our way towards Highbridge and Burnham-on-Sea where we charged our phones and picked up the next OS map.  We saw that it was only 26 miles to Bristol on the A38 so we started out on the road where there is luckily a pavement all the way along. 

About 5 miles in we were surprised by my mum and her boyfriend Johnnie who had been down visiting his son in Devon and tooted their horn behind us and consequently (when we got to the campsite) took us out to a hot dinner!  We're currently in the Mendip Hills about 14 miles outside of Bristol city centre with very full bellies! 

Tomorrow we will walk the rest of the A38 and then have a rest day in Bristol where we hope to hook up with Emmaus Bristol! 

All the best, shame about not seeing you in Bristol but glad the weather has improved! 

Bridgwater West Quay and River Parrett,
Photo taken by Patrick Mackie, 2006
Bridgwater is an attractive town by the dreaded Somerset Levels, an extensive wetland area which floods; field after field are often seen covered in water despite mammoth efforts from the Romans onwards.  It is convenient for the M5, the beaches and beautiful scenery of the Mendips and Quantocks.
Mudflats at Combwich, Bridgwater Bay, 
Danger of mud signs

The shortest pier in Britain

Burnham-on-Sea is a tourist town known for:
  • Extensive mudflats, which have led to many drownings and shipwrecks.  
  • The second highest tidal range in the world: the tide can go out for over 1.5 miles (2.4 km).
  • The world's oldest triathlete, 93 year old Arthur Gilbert, born in 1921.
  • The shortest pier in Britain 
Arthur Gilbert did a 500 metre swim,  a 20 km bike ride and a 5 km run
in two hours, 47 minutes and 22 seconds

The Mendip Hills are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and Brean Down furthermore is a a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Hill walking, hunting, caving, climbing, and abseiling are among many possible activities.
Brean Down