Monday, 5 September 2011

Ridgeway day 3 – Down Barn Farm to Streatley

Ridgeway Sign at Sparsholt Furs
Ridgeway sign at Sparsholt Firs

I should have seen the signals! When I wandered into the kitchen for breakfast, I asked the owner where I could throw my rubbish, and she pointed to an open bin in the corner, buzzing with flies!

I sat down and had a cup of tea, as she cooked my full English, and once I had stirred, I noticed a hardened piece of marmalade on the spoon. Now I was really worried! Little did I realise, that when I left the farm, my stomach was a ticking time bomb!

Didcot Power Station comes into sight
Didcot Power Station comes into sight

Back on the trail at 8am, I was up at the 25 mile mark of Sparsholt Firs within half an hour. It took me another hour and a half to reach the A338 where I had originally wanted to end my second day, but couldn’t as there was no space at the local hostel. I was doing well, and hitting my targets.

Sign post and rucksack
Sign post and rucksack

Unaware of my impending problem I marched passed the opportunity of the only loo on the trail, before Streatley, over 13 miles away. Half an hour later, I started to feel a little nauseous, and I set my sights to rest at Wantage Monument. When I reached there, I was starting to feel really ill and I was starting to scan the bushes for an impromptu toilet break. Just my luck that this was the exact time that a class of bloody school kids turned up on mountain bikes and preceded to wait here for the stragglers to catch up! I hastily packed up and laboured straight for the privacy of the nearest woodland!

So, the remainder of the day was tough. Although my stomach had now settled, I was torn between eating again and risking further upset, or carrying on without until the Youth Hostel at Streatley, still over ten miles away. I snacked on some dried fruit and nuts, probably not the most ideal of choices, but a freeze dried spaghetti bolognese didn’t seem an option.

Didcot Power Station
Didcot Power Station

I pushed on as fast as I could, passed the Didcot Power Station, over the wide ridge that is Bury Down. It was a long day in changeable conditions which constantly left me donning my rain jacket, stowing it away, then donning it again; tedious.

Ridgeway to the A34
Ridgeway to the A34

A34
Under the A34

Across another major road, the A34, and towards, what is marked on my map, the only water tap before Streatley. It was to be a stop for a brew, but I was to find that the tap had been removed, so now I had to conserve the little water I had left with 6 miles still to go. I was really enjoying this day!

Halfway(ish)
Halfway(ish)

By the time I had finally started to descend the seemingly never ending lane down to Streatley, I was really struggling. My feet were starting to ache, and a mile out I had to stop to attend to a blister on my left heel. It really was a wonderful sight to spot the Streatley YHA, and hobble in at about 4.30pm.

I had already made my decision to take a rest day. The plan for the remainder of this trail was to head home tomorrow, drop off all the gear I would no longer need (which was the majority), as I was now near enough to make day trips. I would return to Goring on Wednesday to start the next leg to Watlington.