Wednesday, 18 May 2011
The Cancer Grinch
Day Three Continued - Braunton - Barnstaple - The Cancer Grinch's Workshop - Instow.
The walk into Barnstaple was particularly uninspiring, past the military base at Chivenor and along the Tarka trail alongside the Taw estuary. It was largely urban and for the most part smelled faintly of crap - mostly down to the large sewage plant that seemed to engulf the route. On the plus side, I saw some ducks. That's it. That's the plus side. Two ducks. The new bridge into Barnstaple was ugly - the town of Barnstaple was ugly and the service I received in Barnstaple was, for the most part, ugly. There was a plus side in the shape of the man in Tourist info who went so far as to draw me a map, detailing the route to a bus station and the quickest way out of town.
The cobbler I went to see, who I'll refer to from here on in as 'The Cancer Grinch', took immediate stock of the obvious rush I was in after I'd explained my circumstances. Sponsored walk for Cancer Research, in a hurry, short of cash.
'Twenty five pounds.'
'I'll stick your heel back on in time for you to get to Instow tonight - twenty five pounds.'
'Isn't that a little much?'
'It's for my time, I'm doing it extra fast, seen as you're in a rush and it's for charity.'
'But...you'll be taking less time. That makes no sense.'
'Listen, it's twenty five pounds, take it or leave it. Good luck finding another person who can do it on boots like this.'
He rather had me there - I had no choice. Barnstaple, on the whole, went some way to destroying my faith in humanity. Mean spirited, unclean, unappealing town, and it was at this point that I really started to doubt the South West Coast Path guide book. It reads; 'Barnstaple, North Devon's major centre, is a pleasant and interesting historic town well worth exploring.' To all hikers on the path - the smell of bullshit isn't coming solely from the sewage plant.
Eventually the Cancer Grinch got my boot fixed, but it was too late to walk to Instow and I wasn't hanging around so I decided to cheat and get the bus the six miles there. And as for Instow? A breath of fresh air.