Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Day 4 : Truro to Dunmere (nr Bodmin)

Thursday 18th January 2007

Distance Walked: 31.2 miles
Start Time: 9:07
End Time: 17:34
Elapsed Time: 8:27
Weather: Grey. Cold. Miserable.
Distance walked so far: 93.9 miles

Despite being the supposed capital city of Cornwall, Truro is a small, squat place, cascading across the junctions of the rivers Allen and Kenwyn. There is, however, a good selection of shops to replenish supplies, so before setting off in the morning I made sure that my flapjack levels were sufficient, and marched off northwards alongside the river towards Idless Wood. My general aim on the walk is to cover as many miles as possible each day, but also to end each day in a decently sized town, the premise being that it would remove the need to book accommodation in advance and increase the likelihood of finding decent food and supplies each day. The suggested route plan from Truro says that today would be a gentle 13.5 miles to Indian Queens. Recklessly reckoning that I could cover three days worth of walking in two days, I increase the pace and hope to reach the Bodmin area by nightfall. This may have been a mistake.

With my annotated map clutched firmly in my hand I made an almost perfect exit from the city and was on my way into Idless Wood. Run by the Forestry Commission, I’m sure it’s a delightful place in the spring and summer, with a multitude a walking paths through picturesque woodland trails. In a wet winter it’s hard to keep your feet long enough to admire the scenery. And anyway, all I was interested in today was mileage. There would be other days for scenery and a leisurely pace. I put my head down and headed back to the country lanes, skirting the A30 once again. Through the villages and past the farms I flew, through all manner of endearingly ludicrous place names. Cockmunch, Flange Panel and Parp they may have been. Or not. Through the quarry town of Indian Queens (a genuine name) with its Gnome World attraction and owl sanctuary, and on again. The pre-programmed route in the GPS was telling me the destination wouldn’t be reached before dark and a mild panic was beginning to set in.

I headed up and over the old fort formation of Castle-an-Dinas from which the views are supposed to be spectacular, but on a grey day like this it was difficult to see beyond the busy main road below. Clearly the farmer who owns the land below is not too happy about the fact that a public footpath runs through his property as he’d decided to place a herd of particularly frisky bulls in the field and as they darted towards me on the descent I was forced to make a comically inept escape over the barbed wire fence.

Maybe that’s when the knee finally gave up, or more likely it’s just an accumulation of abuse, of going too far, too fast, on too much tarmac, but it soon became apparent that I was unable to bend it fully and it was extremely painful to the touch. And I’d also developed my first blisters of the trip, underneath the little toe of my left foot.

With torch strapped to my head I finally approached Dunmere, a village straddling the Camel Trail, my route for tomorrow, which is a long flat walking/cycling trail that follows the route of the River Camel northwards towards Saint Breward and the moor. Thankfully I tracked down a B&B in an old lodge house, which was run by a delightfully eccentric looking man who looked like a Captain who’d lost his army and didn’t quite know what to do with himself. He also had a peculiar limp, and as I hobbled up the stairs behind him I hoped he wouldn’t notice my similar affliction and think I was mocking him, if only because I doubted I’d be able to find another B&B if he kicked me out.

I swiftly doused my swollen knee with deep heat, which seemed to do nothing but make my leg unbelievably hot. And you wouldn’t believe how much vaseline I had to smother on my nethers to soothe my frictioned arse. And somehow I’ve developed a massive black bruise on my inner thigh. What the hell is going on? I spent the evening in the pub, overlooking the trail, drinking as much muscle relaxant as I could. I’m going to need it.

Song of the day:

Jackson C. Frank
“Blues run the game”

Try another city baby /
Another town /
Wherever I have gone /
Wherever I’ve bin and gone /
The blues come following down

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