It's raining its pouring but for once Kate isn't snoring! Our tent once folded resembled something fresh out of a washing machine- that had missed the 'quick spin' stage. Everything was wet. We were heading for Barnstable, 22 miles South Westerly.
We started our day in the bottom of a valley where the river flow was fast due to the recent showers; the first footpath we were supposed to take had a polite sign 'please do not use'. Feeling out of luck we carried on forwards in hope of an alternative route. Seven miles off course, in the middle of marsh land filled with mud, slugs, quick sand, and long grass/ ferns both Kate and I were soaked through.
We had been walking for 4 and a half hours and hadn't even made it to 3 miles on our map. Then with a track on the opposite side of the river, we decided to cross. Now so far past 'damp' I walked straight across the middle of the river; my boots sunk under the water flow and without a care in the world I crossed (its times like these I need my wellies!).
Climbing 500m in half a mile our legs got a good morning wake up call until we finally reached our first town- now 5 hours in. We continued on, hoods up, feet squelching- now in the middle of absolutely nowhere with just the odd sheep bleep to keep us entertained. Kate joked how she could go to the bathroom and no one would know as she was that soaked through.
With rain dripping off my hood on to my face, and unable to see more than 20m infront of me, I found myself wondering what on earth I was doing!? And then I thought about how this challenge wasn't just an 1100 mile walk with 22kg rucksacks. It was about facing any weather that the English summer threw at us, keeping the morale high when you're lost in no man's land, coping with no phone signal for 4 days, and best of all, learning to smile every step of the way through it.
So smiling away to myself, enjoying the adventure Kate and I had embarked on 38 days ago, now with only 10 days to go- we felt it was time for a treat. We cancelled our planned camping night and spoilt ourselves to a plush hotel with pillows and white linen- and a bath!
Feeling delighted with ourselves we drank afternoon tea in the lounge area and then booked dinner for a leisurely 8.30. Dinner brought cocktails and all of a sudden Kate had forgotten about the agony her shoulder was in and I had dismissed the blisters that were so selfishly taking over my feet, and we just enjoyed ourselves. Completely enjoyed ourselves. Cheers to that!