So the 3rd week is done and i have covered close to 300 miles so far. A few changes to the route and a few setbacks early in the week, but it’s still been a good one overall. Very much looking forward to next week already!
The walk from Colchester was quite good actually. After a nice tea break and updating the blog, I set off across the town and crossed the river soon after. I was walking along a B road to begin with and then slowly started making my way north east through footpaths and country lanes.
With the sun coming out properly at times it got quite warm, which was a nice change to the day before. My fleece came off and I enjoyed walking with just the base layer and my paramo jacket. By this point I had already covered over 5 miles, despite it being just after 11am. The early start certainly helped my mileage.
Initially I thought Manningtree, close to 20 miles away from where I camped, would be a bit of a push, but when I took a lunch break around 1pm I discovered I had done 2/3 of the trek already. It really does make a difference when the weather is nice and the footpaths aren’t made of mud!
Towards the later part of the afternoon I started to get some problems with my feet though. My socks had been damp in the morning from the day before and I did not want to dig through my rucksack to get a fresh pair in the morning, and I was paying for it now. I had developed a small blister right between and underneath my right big toe. On top of that my left big toe was troubling me. I had banged it 2 weeks ago on the Saxon shore way, and despite the nail turning a lovely shade of blue, it had been fine. But a bit of nail broke off on the edge and I think it cut a bit of the nailbed, so it has started hurting a bit when walking.
I hobbled more than walked the last 2 miles into Manningtree, which is really a tiny little town by the looks of it. I sat down in a pub and had some cranberry juice as I was quite thirsty (need to remember to fill up water when possible after camping) and had a look for cheap accommodation. There was a campsite about 2 miles away and I would have managed, but they don’t open until next week! I can’t wait for spring time. I can’t wait to hit the coast proper. I got a taste for camping the night before and want some more!
Thankfully the bar girl was very nice and she directed me to a nice self catering place which was only marginally more expensive than the campsite. I was the only one there, so had the kitchen to myself. Was quite tempted to cook up a storm, but in the end I opted for a light dinner and some snacks (god I have grown to love cross buns and Snickers special edition Maximus!) and use the time to take care of my feet. I put on a blister patch I brought along and cleaned out my left big toe and put some cream on. Also spread out all my equipment to give it all a proper dry out.
In the morning I made myself a light breakfast (loving Mueller milk rice with strawberries), checked all my equipment and gave my feet another round of treatment. I set off around 9am and had a nice trek across the bridge and then along the river Stour along the other side. It was quite warm and the sun came out at times and that made going really nice. At some point, in the middle of nowhere, I could have sworn that I was able to smell fresh baked brownies. Wondering if there might have been a factory across the river or something…
It’s funny, but it’s the little things that seem to help a lot. Things like the sun coming out a bit, or walking along a nice footpath that is not all muddy and slippery. Things like that really cheer me up a lot and make the walking easier. If I don’t constantly have to watch the path, I also have more time to enjoy the scenery and the view.
I had decided to take it a bit easy today, to let my feet recover and so my target was just south east of Ipswich on the other side of the river Orwell and I had planned to visit one of 3 campsites there. I had some lovely breaks in some small towns and took loads of pictures today as well, including some wildlife. I have come across some amazing birds already, the problem is, most of time my camera is still in the bag and by the time I get the camera out, the birds are gone! But today I got lucky a few times.
I am really glad I have my walking sticks, and even more glad that the kids in Basildon did not take them off me! They help a lot when walking on muddy paths and have stopped me from falling over more than once! Above all though they are a massive help when walking up steep hills! They help me dig in and get on with it.
After one such steep hill I entered Holbrook, which is a lovely little town south of Ipswich. It was around 1pm and the hill had made me real thirsty and alas, I saw a pub sign ahead. As I got closer I could smell the lovely aroma of Goulash! I thought I must be dreaming, but no! Today’s special was Hungarian Goulash! Coming from Austria, I have always loved that dish and my mum probably makes the best in the world (one of them is called Szegediner and has sour cream in it – god that’s amazing!), so I decided to save my Trek bar and my banana for dinner and have a proper meal.
The pub was called The Compasses Inn and it’s a lovely country side inn with restaurant. I had a blueberry J2O (which I have never had and it is sooooo good!!) and a half pint of IPA. And of course the Goulash, with fresh baked and warm bread! I was in heaven! I got to chat to a lovely chap called David (who had the roast beef), who said I was lucky to get there as the place is known for good food, and he was also very interested in my walk. The staff in the inn also joined the conversation and I had a lovely time telling some stories from the last few weeks and explaining what I did.
After lunch I went to the loo and on my return I found that they had refunded the money I had paid for my lunch and drinks! Was not expecting that and was a bit at a loss of words, but the guys there were just so nice and supportive! The chap David also gave me 10 quid out of his own pocket, for meals and a beer, but I’ll be putting that on the donation site next chance I can! What a great introduction to Suffolk!
I left very well nourished and the next 4 miles passed quickly. About 3 miles out of Ipswich, and about 1 mile from the Orwell Bridge, I called some of the campsites (after finally getting a signal). Turns out one of them is now a golf course and the other one opens on the 1st of March – argh! Roll on next week! I had a third option, a bit further away, but still do-able, but there was no answer.
As always I got a bit desperate at this point, it was getting close to 4pm and I was on the outskirts of a major town. I am quite glad to say though that camping the first night somehow has taken away a lot of pressure. I don’t feel like I have to camp at any cost if I don’t feel comfortable. I know I will be camping a lot in the 50 or so weeks to come, and particularly along the coast I’ll be finding plenty of spots. But the truth is I just don’t feel comfortable yet to camp close to cities and towns. I am worried that I bother people, I am worried that I get asked to move on and to be honest I am a bit worried about someone mugging me or something. I probably worry about too many things there, but I just need to get over that fear and I strongly feel that getting back to the coast will help me a lot with that.
After a bit of phoning around I found a really cheap self catering place and that settled things for me in the end. I had to walk into Ipswich proper though, which added a few miles, bringing my total today to around 16 miles I think. It gives me another evening of taking care of my feet and that’s definitely a good one. They are doing ok today, with lots of cream and dry socks things are looking up. On the health front things really look good now. My knees have finally decided that it’s not worth fighting me anymore, so they stopped hurting! My guess is that after another week of walking most of the niggles should be gone and I’ll have turned into a proper walking machine!
The night in Ipswich was interesting. Around 1 in the morning there were flashing lights outside my window as someone had been assaulted by a few drunken youths and a car had been damaged. It took about half an hour for the police to sort things out and for me to get back to sleep. Still I woke up quite refreshed, made some breakfast and set off well before 9am.
I quite enjoy walking through towns on a Saturday morning. Everyone is still waking up and it’s usually very quiet. Ipswich was no different and it’s quite a bit city, so I walked through deserted river fronts and roads, until I found the footpaths leading through the parks and towards the river Deben, which I then followed up towards Woodbridge.
It was raining all day and there was quite a cold wind in my face most of the day. It reminded me that it was still winter and the warm sunshine of the day before was not yet the norm. When I reached Woodbridge I decided to warm myself up with some soup and found the lovely Waterfront Café, where I got a warm welcome and some space was set aside for my backpack. I enjoyed probably one of the best fish soups I have ever had and it really warmed me up. After chatting to the owner for a while he helped me find some accommodation for the weekend and so I was able to get a great rate in a lovely B&B.
I had decided to call it a day early after a mixed week to chill out for a bit and also to enjoy the Rugby as well as the Carling Cup final on Sunday! Hopefully Arsenal will be ending their 6 year draught and win a trophy!
So 2 more days until I get back to the coast properly around the area of Aldeburgh and honestly I can’t wait. Looking at my original plan, which counted on ferries operating, it seems my actual trek across Essex has cut off a few days. If I manage to keep this buffer, it’ll mean more time and miles on the islands in Scotland!
In the meantime I’ll be taking care of my feet, relax and enjoy the football!