Sunday, 14 November 2010

A Very Wet Day on the Clarendon Way

Sunny spells. That is what the weather report said about today. I've been wanting to walk the Clarendon Way for quite some time, it's a 24(ish) mile path that links the two medieval cities of Salisbury and Winchester, Cathedral to Cathedral. I chose to do it today as the weather was looking good and I fancied a bit of fresh country air.

I caught the first train to Winchester and arrived just after 8am. It was a cool morning with a pretty winter mist blanketing the city, but I detected a bit of blue in the sky and happily went on my way. 

Anybody who has ever attempted any sort of route that starts in a city will know that the hardest thing is actually finding the start. Luckily as this starts at the Cathedral it's quite an obvious landmark, but even once you get there you need to figure out what sign you're looking for. Once I found it though, I was off and venturing through suburban Winchester.

I must say I wasn't fully inspired by the route, it was mostly following roads that were a bit too small for cars but that cars were using anyway. Saying that I think it would be a great route do to on a mountain bike, as you can easily navigate around the footpaths. Speaking of navigation, if you are going to do this route you should definitely bring a map - I missed the tiny green signs on several occasions and could have gotten very lost if I wasn't checking the map regularly. Some junctions had whacking great signposts and others were totally hidden.

There was a section on the way up to Farley Mount that I reckon would have been a spectacular viewpoint had it not been for that winter mist, which was no longer "pretty" but "soggy". After about two hours I started to feel a very gentle precipitation, "it'll pass, the weather map was definitely clear for today" I thought to myself.

I went as far as I could with ignoring the rain before I begrudgingly had to get the waterproof jacket out, the clouds must have been holding out for me to do this as within minutes it was bucketing down. I was mildly amused that I had managed to choose this particular day to take on this walk, a bit of rain doesn't hurt though.

Another hour later and I was starting to have a sense of humour failure. The rain was still hammering down and I still had quite a way to go. What had been a path was becoming a series of large, puddley obstacles. I trudged on, still with the hope that it would clear up.

Another hour passed, I'd done about 14 miles. My fingers tingled with cold and rain was dripping from my eyelashes, I decided enough was enough. This was meant to be a pleasant wander in the country, not an endurance challenge. I took a detour at the next village and started looking for an alternative route home. I came across a bus shelter, but of course there are no buses on a Sunday. So I found some local taxi numbers but none of them had any availability. I called my sister so she could look up some more taxi companies, but between us we managed to find lots of wrong numbers and very, very busy cab firms.

I was losing the will, but then I somehow managed to blag a lift with a lady who was getting into her car and heading to Andover, ideal. I could get a train from there and get home. In another stroke of luck my Dad was driving back from London and picked me up on the way through, I was so thankful I took him to a cafe for a nice hot lunch.

Lesson learned. Never, ever trust the weather report.

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