Come on my sun.
Leaving Holme Fen, drizzle turned to downpour and I was happy to reach the Elephant and Castle in Wood Walton at midday. This drowned rat was soon joined by some of the locals, also drenched from a do at Stilton. Having dried out a little and after a complementary mug of tea and a ham and cheese sandwich I ventured into the brightening afternoon with a bounce in my step, soon removed as the thick clay formed a heavy overshoe around my feet.
I rejoined the Icknield Way though a map, a guidebook (written, as most seem to be, for those travelling in the opposite direction) and some strange waymarking to be more problematic than anticipated. My final day on this trail would prove horrendous. After careful planning, anything that could have gone wrong did, and a Birthday that began watching a pair of fox cubs playing on the path before me, ended – at last! The Ridgeway National Trail, although wet underfoot, was nettle-free and easy to follow.
The first two and a half weeks had felt like two and a half months and I was badly in need of a rest day, which I took at Wallingford, and proved to be a turning point on my journey. A shoulder/neck injury that had me on the verge of passing out in a supermarket was now under the influence of painkillers and I would see no more rain on my way to the coast.
The trail was now dry. Along the byways to Avebury, across Salisbury Plain and past Stonehenge towards the Dorset coast, the hill forts encountered en route would be a constant reminder of the ancient origins of this route.
The wildlife encountered, butterflies in abundance, the rich variety of birds (including a Red Kite), the young deer in the woods and the old dears on their rambles, all woven into the rich tapestry of the English countryside.