Monday, 5 September 2011

Ridgeway day 3 – Down Barn Farm to Streatley

I should have seen the signs! 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!

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.

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.

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.

Across another major road, 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!

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.