- This is a photo-heavy post, so you may want to back off if you’re on a slow connection, or a mobile one charged by the data you transfer. It’s a good chance to have a smug chuckle at us being idiots, though.
A couple of months ago, Sam and I decided to try to walk to Bickleigh. It would be a longer walk than any we’d done yet, but there’d be a nice stop in the middle, and we could have lunch at Bickleigh Mill or the Fisherman’s Cot. It wasn’t going to be paved much of the way, but it was listed in a nice little book of walks the council produced, so it should be reasonably easy.
That’s not quite how it turned out. There’s a reason the title says Attempted.
We reached the bottom of Canal Hill (the road we live on) without incident.
Things were looking up when we passed two bees having sex – it’s always going to be a good day when you start it by seeing creatures having sex or defecating.
We spotted a distant bunny keeping an eye on us through the grass.
Just where we were a little unsure of the route, and it wasn’t explained well in the booklet we were following, there was a sign:
The road gradually became less used, and more rural. It was only really the access road for a couple of farms and the town’s sewage works. It had rained a lot recently, so all the potholes had become huge, deep puddles, which we skirted around. The water was muddy enough that we couldn’t tell how deep they were, and it was the sort of road where a pothole could turn out to be embarrassingly deep.
Reaching the Farm
At this point, the ‘road’ actually cut right through the middle of a farm. The mud wasn’t all mud any more, as we could tell from the number of cows around.
After the Farm
Once we got past the farm, though, things were looking up a bit – the road was just concrete, but there weren’t many potholes, and it was relatively clean and dry.
And what was that coming up on the right? Oh, yes. A chance to indulge my sad obsession with photographing rusty things – an old abandoned trailer. I got to work.
Back when I was young, my parents had a static caravan on a site outside Mickleton, a small village outside Middleton-in-Teesdale. At one time, there had been a cattle grid at the end of the road out of the site. It had been filled in for years, but we all still referred to the end of the road as “the cattle grid”. There were a lot of cattle grids around the whole area.
I still quite like walking over cattle grids, and I had the chance now.
Tiverton Sewage Works
Our booklet told us to take the path around the sewage works to the left.
It didn’t mention that this was a narrow path trapped between the high metal fence of the sewage works on the right, and some dense hedge/woodland on the left. It did give us an interesting unguided tour of the sewage plant, though, with all its interesting odours.
Oh, sorry. Are you not as fascinated by sewage works as I am?
After the sewage works, we found ourselves in an open field, with just a thistle tree for company.
It was a nice day. The weather was sunny, but not too warm for walking. We were in a pleasant green field, and enjoying the walk. Things were looking up again.
We got to the end of the first field. at a gap leading to the next pleasant, green, open field. There was a small problem, though. The route between the two fields was wet and muddy.
We tried to find an alternative route, but without much luck. I managed to get around by swinging from a tree branch. Sam waded through, and came out with two very muddy feet.
We had to carry on wandering, though, as the field was starting to fill up behind us with cows.
We passed another thistle tree.
We got to the end of this field, though, and hit a bit of a snag. There didn’t seem to be an exit. There was no route through to the woods, which was where we thought we needed to be. There was a small stream in a deep ditch at the end, blocking off any other route of escape.
There was a small bridge, but it didn’t seem to go anywhere useful, and didn’t look entirely passable.
We realised we must have gone wrong somewhere, which meant we were going to have to turn around and go back the way we’d come.
There was one bit of good news – the cows had dispersed, so the way through was clear again. The downside was that the whole herd had just tramped through the bit of mud we’d already had problems with, making it even worse.
Battling the Mud
Things were about to get messy. You’ll have to imagine this part, though, because I was a bit too busy to be taking photos.
Sam wasn’t going to be able to get back across the way she’d come, without getting into more of a mess than before. I managed the same way I’d come, and managed to work out which way we should have gone. That route was blocked with mud too. I finally worked out a way around it, only getting slightly messy in the process, and found my way to the other side of a patch of mud from Sam.
She tried crossing with the aid of a stick she’d found, but it didn’t go at all well. The ground was softer than it looked, and she was soon up to both knees in mud. Then, she fell over backwards, and sat in the mud. She got back to her feet again, and made it across.
We decided to give up and head home. We had no idea what the rest of the journey was going to be like, but even if it was dry and easy (which seemed unlikely), we’d arrive at Bickleigh’s fine eating establishments covered in mud. With some difficulty, we clambered back by the route I’d just used, and back to the field after the sewage works.
It was easy from there.
When we got back to the road, I got a picture of Sam.
It was pretty uneventful from there, but I did take quite a few more photos on the way back, so we’ll leave the story there and just enjoy some snails in strange places and a mini frog.