Tuesday, 17 May 2011

'The heel's come off my boat.'

'Do you mean boot?'
'What? Yes. Yes,boot. Either way my boot's are screwed.'

Day Three - Combe Martin - Braunton

I wear a couple of beautiful Goretex boots that I bought for walking in Snowdonia with D of E, six years ago now. They've been fantastic ever since, a perfect fit, water proof and hardy enough to take on the craggiest of crags. So imagine my irritation when I walked into Braunton this afternoon and one of the heels started waving erratically around like a drunken royalist watching two Royal Weddings at once.

But first, the walk. As you can see, I've made a fair distance, walking into Braunton from Combe Martin, but again I decided that I needed to make up some time so after walking along the coast path for a while, I cut off across land to make it into Braunton. The reason I'm so desperate to do this as quickly as possible is essentially that I'm skint - I need to get home, get some work and make it back to uni for my Masters degree, so I've set myself a month to do a seven week steady walk. At the moment I'm regretting that fact - what I'm told would have been a good days walk along beautiful coast, became instead a weary twenty mile trudge along A and B roads. But the roads aside, I must admit, I'm largely not in love with this part of North Devon - it all needs a serious lick of paint and a bit of care and attention. Illfracombe, for example, must win the award for 'Most lumps of dog crap found on any one stretch of pavement ever.' I can't say much for Braunton either, though it was inoffensive enough and I (somehow) managed to get lost and walk through it twice whilst trying to find a cobbler. I decided to ask for help.

'Your boot's proper broken,' says the massively overweight beardy man in the garage, who smelled faintly of moist cheese.
'Err, yes, it is a bit, isn't it? Is there anywhere I can get it fixed?'
'No, not for miles and miles.'
'Right. Nowhere?'
'No.' Behind his eyes I can see the cogs, shaking themselves free of a rust born of watching Jeremy Kyle, come creaking into action. This man is employing all of his seriously impressive brain power - it takes a good four seconds. 'No,' he says ponderously, 'nowhere. Your boot's proper broken, it's going to take a proper cobbler to fix that. Proper job.'
I smile and resist the urge to pat him on the head. 'Right, cheers,' I say, and turn to wonder out of the shop.
'Unless that is,' I hear him mumble, 'you could make it all the way to Barnstaple?'
I don't risk turning, for fear of my roll mat dislodging a shelf full of Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers. 'That's only six miles away isn't it?'
He looked unconvinced. 'Long way to walk. I'd rest here if I were you.'
'Cheers. I might just do that.'

Five minutes later I had my flip flops on and was on the way to Barnstaple...

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