Hike Southbound through Britain with Daryl May
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DS53 Toads crossing
DS53 Alan Sloman
Days S53 - S65                                                             English West Country
Day S53 - Portbury to Weston-super-Mare
Day S52               A hard day in great company                   Day S54
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Northbound Home
Wednesday, April 16,  2008

Time of departure: 7.45 am
Time of arrival: 6.30 pm
Place departed: Portbury, N Somerset
Place arrived: Weston-super-Mare, N Somerset

Miles: 23.5
Cum miles: 772.7
Percent complete: 79.6

Bed sign With Rachel, Alan Sloman's daughter and her boyfriend in Weston
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DS53 Somerset levels
DS53 Dog
"I can send for reinforcements, you know," said the dog
It was a long day because the distance we covered made me demand plenty of rests. We? Today, my companion was the redoubtable Alan Sloman, a man with hiking credentials that leave me in the dust. Alan has done several coast-to-coast walks, plus a mammoth end-to-end one in which he not only did LE to JOG, but included the southernmost and northernmost points of the British mainland - and a TGO Challenge coast-to-coaster in the middle. You can read it all at one of the liveliest of all hiking blogs.

Alan drove the considerable distance from Cambridgeshire, as I was setting out from Portbury. We arranged to meet in Clevedon after I'd done eight, rather hilly miles. Alan parked his car there, and we walked to Weston-super-Mare together, another 15 miles though mainly across the Somerset levels, which are flat lands interspersed with drainage ditches dating as far back as the Romans. To some extent, the area resembles Holland.

There is a famous fable told about King Alfred the Great, who hid in these wetlands as a guerilla fighting the Danes (Vikings).  Taken in by a cowherd's family, the wife told him to mind the cakes she was baking - but he let them burn. The wife scolded him severely, not knowing that he was the King. She apologized later, but Alfred would have none of it, admitting that he was the one at fault.

Alfred was, in fact, one of the greatest of English Kings, freeing the country of the Vikings in many campaigns through his reign from 871 to 899 AD. He introduced the county divisions, and a legal system, and was known as "protector of the poor". Unfortunately, the history of this period is not clearly documented. Alfred himself, though articulate, was semi-literate.

The weather today couldn't have been better for hiking. Our route was on lanes to Yatton (where we had a beer) and Congresbury (where we took to more minor lanes and muddy tracks). Alan did his 15 miles without any sign of fatigue, and I finished my 23 miles in Hobson's normal fashion - limping, dirty, shattered, and glad to be done for the day.

Most kindly, he also arranged for me to spend the night at his daughter's place in Weston-super-Mare. Rachel is a charming young lady. Alan was a most generous companion, and the delicious chicken liver paté on toast that he brought was an exceedingly civilized way to take a lunch break whilst hiking. I was glad that Alan was able to get a ride back to his car in the evening, because I felt thoroughly guilty over all the transportation that was involved in his joining me from as far as Cambridge. 
DS53 Dogs
Day S52                                        © 2007 and 2008 Daryl May                                          Day S54