Distance - 20.3 Km - 12.6 miles
Time Taken - 6.5hrs (inc. breaks)
Assent - 155m
A good nights sleep and coming second last in the pub quiz (we was fiddled out of a couple of points, but thats another story!) seemed to revive tired feet and mind. Both blisters drained and a good breakfast and it was on the trail, or I should say road. The weather had changed and it was sunny with clear blue skies, so it was on with the sunscreen, I had however forgot my hat.
The guidebook had described this section as a 'tiring grind' but I quite enjoyed it. The guide does give a few clues that the Peddars Way isn't the most exciting National Trail, words like tedious, grind, persistent, trudge do seem to crop up! At the trig point (92m!) at Shepherds bush we had a long break, the sun was out and it was nice to relax a little.
The feet were sore but walkable so we set off again, along grassy farm tracks, finally away from the roads and cars. The next 4 miles stuck to farm tracks and byways. We had intended to have a break next t the A148 as a parking spot was marked, I wanted a bench to sit on so I could drain my blisters again (!), however it seems it's no longer there. Luckily we found a nice rest spot at the Harpley Dams Cottages, despite being only a 100m or so from the main road it was quiet and peaceful.
The next section was one of the quietest of the day, 3 miles along grassy farm tracks with little more than a few sheep for company. The pace had slackened off and yet again I began to tire and slow down. I tried to keep drinking but wilted under the sun. Over the last mile the path had been restored, though I'm not sure how Roman plastic matting is! We broke off the trail heading for the Bircham Windmill. We could see it in the distance and despite being only 1.5 miles away it seemed to take forever to reach it. This was mainly because my pace dropped even further!
We reached the Bircham Windmill just before the shop closed, so we luckily bought some ice creams and cold fizzy pop, they went down exceedingly well! The spot was quite idyllic, next to a windmill, nearly a mile to the next nearest building and a friendly welcome on arrival. Despite no showers the toilets were clean and roomy, so after a wet wipe wash it was possible to feel semi clean and refreshed!
Nick had been worried that I might be to tired to make the 0.9 mile walk to the pub (Yes I did measure it!), but as we had booked a table it would of been rude not to! The village pub was somewhat of a surprise, it had been renovated to a very high standard and was in addition to the pub a high class restaurant and hotel. Dressed in hiking gear and looking a little disheveled I had expected to eat in the bar, but no we was lead to a table in the restaurant and had an extremely good meal in what I would consider a very posh, yet friendly place. Highly recommended!