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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloMonday 27th August 2018 Day 7 – Tanners Hatch to Mertsham : 18.90 kms / 43,317 steps elevation 374 meters.

Even though it’s a hostel, with all the accompanying irritations like snoring, switching lights on in the middle of the night, early risers repacking their bags, I do enjoy sleeping at the YHA. Tanners Hatch YHA was a delight.

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see that bed….bottom left…that was my bed 🙂 perfect – (pic captured off their website)

By morning I was even more determined to book another stay. In the light of morning, sans rain, I had a chance to explore a little more fully….the setting is beautiful, and quite enchanting.

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A couple staying at the YHA offered me a lift to my starting point for today; Box Hill & Westhumble Station. I gratefully accepted as were seriously wayyyy off the Pilgrim’s route. I made myself a quick breakfast of plain pasta and a cup of herbal tea. I was rather hungry by then. Fortunately my trainers had dried out in front of the fire and my clothes too were dry.

A longggg walk later, we finally reached the car park. Note to self….if I do book to stay again, it’s a long walk to the location….don’t take too much stuff. LOL

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Box Hill & Westhumble Station, the starting point for the section to Merstham

By 09:32 I was on my way. I passed the Stepping Stones pub and made a mental note to eat there (next trip??) LOL I loved the house across from the pub.

Within 10 minutes I crossed beneath the motorway….I stopped to admire the beautiful mural before continuing.

Page 78 of the guide: “Walk south along the road with the traffic to the right. At the bus stop go left into a wide entrance. Keep forward past a car park”. Car park?? Uhmmm nope. This I did, except if you go forward you end up on private property. What the guide could have said was ” At the 2nd bus stop go left ….”. This was one of many inconsistent/obscure instructions in the guide book. There were a few more still to come.

My instagram post later that morning: “Box Hill viewpoint: I’m beginning to hate this guide book 😞😞😓 After saying goodbye to the ever so delightful Tanners Hatch YHA, I started off from the Westhumble and Box Hill Station. Not long and the guide doesn’t give sufficient information and once again a local had to direct me. Safely traversed the Stepping Stones across the River Mole and started up Box Hill. Now if you’ve never climbed Box Hill..seriously give it a miss, its a bastard and very HIGH with HUNDREDS of very steep steps. The guide says at the start of the 3rd set of steps go right into the trees which I did, and the field is on the right, but it wasn’t it was on the left, so I climbed back up to the steps, carried on climbing, but no further turning to the right and now I’m at the top of the bloody hill, and if I’ve come too far up (no other paths to be seen), then that means I have to go back DOWN these horrible steps and go back along the path I took originally.. I’ve already fallen coming up the slippery slope. No damage but I’m fed up now with the guide. Either way I guess I’ll have to just crack on“.

Box Hill Stepping Stones. Of all the route I had seen or read about along the Pilgrim’s Way, this was what I was most afraid of. The Stepping Stones. My sense of balance is not good and I was wary of crossing them, but I took it slowly, delighted to reach the opposite bank without falling in. 😂😁😁

Ahead of me was Box Hill. Little did I know that this was going to be the biggest challenge of the whole walk, and also the beginning of the end….

As per the guide: “At the start of the 3rd flight of steps go right, on a narrow path into the trees. The way, which bears slightly left, can in season be sometimes indistinct“. hmmmm

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Box Hill steps….this was not fun!!

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what do you mean I have to go up there?

At what appeared to be the 3rd flight of stairs (the guide doesn’t say how many steps are in the 2nd flight) I turned off and followed the path. “Later it climbs a little and soon is near a field (right)“. Again…hmmmm??? Nope, the field was to my left?? I checked mapmywalk and saw that I was headed very close to the river, closer than indicated on the map in the guide. So I walked back up the way I had come and started climbing the next flight of steps….and climbed and climbed and climbed. All the way I kept looking for this narrow path the guide talks about…and I couldn’t find anything. Further along in the guide he mentions “The path, running ahead and with pylons to the right, is on the line of the PW….” Well, no matter which way I looked at it, I could not find a path that would put the pylons on my right! Unless it was this one? Which was a National Trust nature trail?

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was this the way? it didn’t look like it. it did however look a lot like the path I fell down yesterday

So instead I just kept climbing and after about the 1000th step, steps that are in places so high that I had to lift my legs up individually under the knee with my hands …..and then.. I fell UP a step. A very hard fall that smashed my right shin, left me flat on my face and unable to get up – I just did not have the energy to lift myself up with the backpack on. Fortunately I didn’t fall BACKWARDS, and there was someone on hand to help me up. Seriously, I was exhausted by that stage. I simply couldn’t bear the thought of climbing anymore steps, but I had no choice….all I could do was just to continue going UP and up and up. There were some lovely trees to see….as a bonus LOL

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one of the benefits walking through the countryside…lots of beautiful old trees

More steps….

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more steps…..the gravel between was treacherously slippery

Finally after what felt like hours of climbing more steps that I ever want to see in front of me ever again. I reached the Box Hill viewpoint.

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what a view 🙂

Referring back to my instagram post: “Box Hill viewpoint: I’m beginning to hate this guide book.

I saw that the North Downs Way, which is so well marked, was in my vicinity. So I packed the guide book in my backpack,  and carried on walking….I figured that since most of the Pilgrim’s Way is largely a ‘made up’ route and much of it follows the North Downs Way which is well marked, whereas the Pilgrim’s Way isn’t marked at all….

After walking for a while I reached Salomon’s Memorial where I stopped to take a few photos and then carried on walking along some seriously tricky terrain I came out of the trees to a welcome sight before me…a restaurant!! Hoorah. It was 11:46 and the restaurant; Smith & Western opened at 12noon….I figured it would be a good idea to wait and have some proper food….I hadn’t had a proper solid meal for a couple of days. Good move. I had the MOST delicious veggie fajita, a pot of tea and a lovely cold coke. I don’t usually drink coke, but I was in dire need of sugar. After relishing my meal and resting my feet, after an hour I set off once again. Although to be honest, I have no idea how I actually ended up at this place….but boy am I glad I did.

Diving into the gloom of the trees, with the guide still packed away (?) I discovered that the terrain was really difficult with lots of tree roots, and steps…..more steps!!! Jeezuz. I was sick to death of climbing steps whether up or down. In all I was not a happy bunny. This day was turning out to be a nightmare.

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This last section was a true test of endurance. I’m still not sure how I managed….but I did. Trudging on I followed the markers crossing Reigate Hill

and passed the ‘Flying Fortress’ B17 WW2 memorial,

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This clearing in the trees was created at 5.42pm on 19 March 1945 when a B17 (G) aircraft, a ‘Flying Fortress’ creashed into the side of Reigate Hill, killing all 9 crew members on board

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the two wooden sculptures reflect the wing tips of the B17 that crashed

then Reigate Fort, which I briefly explored,

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crossed the Reigate Hill Footbridge and finally Gatton Park where I  stopped at the refreshment booth for an ice-cream and a drink, had a rest, a quick pit stop to the loo and after taking a photo of the views and the sundial I picked up what was now the Pilgrim’s Way again and set off towards Merstham and my bed for the night.

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what a fantastic view

Its been a day of sheer unadulterated endurance. But I’m nearly at my destination. Hoorah

Gatton Park is really beautiful and I so enjoyed walking along what was now fairly flat terrain.

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hoorah….no steps

On the way down the hill I passed the Millennium Stones; these awesome stones, built to resemble a megolithic stone circle, were created by Richard Kindersley during 1998 to 1999 to mark the double millennium from AD1 to AD2000. The first stone in the series is inscribed with the words from St John’s Gospel, “in the beginning the word was …”. The subsequent nine stones are carved with quotations contemporary with each 200 year segment, ending with the words of T S Eliot.

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Millenium Stones

After examining the circle and reading some of the inscriptions, I left the stones behind me and after crossing one last green field, I soon reached a more suburban area….nearly there 🙂

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at the end of this field was my destination…Merstham

Finally I was in Merstham. It was exactly 7pm and I was so ready for bed.

Thankfully the AirBnb wasn’t too far from where the path ended so in no time at all I found the venue and was greeted by two of the loveliest hosts I have ever met. They were so welcoming, made me a lovely mug of tea and provided some hot food. We had a lovely conversation and then with my eyes barely held open, I made my way upstairs, had a hot hot shower and hopped into bed. Bliss

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my wonderful bed at the Merstham AirBnb

My instagram post: Merstham: Well. All I can say is that today’s lesson was about not giving up despite the pain, the exhaustion, the frustration and climbing more steep steps than I ever expected or wanted or ever plan to do again 😂 😂 😂 Frankly I even amazed myself today at my capacity for endurance. But I can say for sure that I did not enjoy today’s walk. I am shattered, and walked so slowly that I’m surprised 🤨 🤨 that I actually got to Merstham at the time I did. My right hip was exceptionally painful today after yesterday’s fall and falling on the steps at Box Hill today didn’t help matters much. Getting to the top of the hills; Box Hill and Reigate, was excruciating but oh my gosh, the views… Stunning. I dosed myself up on 2000 mg of paracetamol over the day and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. However, arrive I did. My Airbnb hosts are absolutely lovely and we had a wonderful chat over a hot cuppa, I’ve wallowed in a scalding hot shower and now I’m horizontal on that fantastic bed. The route was meant to be 15.6 kms, I walked 18.9 kms which included about retracing my steps 3 times. I left Westhumble Station at 9.15 am and arrived at Merstham at 7pm with an hour for lunch and 3 short breaks. The guide book suggests it should take 3.5 hours  😂 😂 😂 😂 😂 on another planet maybe 🙄🙄🙄

Both the best and most challenging of days. Once again I had to dig deep to carry on, tried to ignore the pain of the 2 falls, enjoyed the views, appreciated good food and climbed more stairs that I ever want to EVER again LOL. But now I’m in a deliciously comfy bed, clean and refreshed….Goodnight…..

p.s. that bottle of water on the bed-stand….remained unopened.

In case you missed Day 6 of my pilgrimage from Winchester click here

Today video of scenes from Day 7

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloSaturday 25th August 2018 Day 5 – (day in Guildford to explore) 4.68 kms / 12,773 steps elevation 65 meters

I had a lovely 5 km amble around Guildford this morning.

The town is located near the site of the “Golden Ford” an established crossing place; it is this Ford to which Guildford owes its name. An ancient track-way which ran along the North Downs descended to this river crossing. The first written record relating to King Alfred about Guildford dates from around AD 885.

Retracing my steps from previous visits I walked up the fantastic cobbled and pedestrianised High Street where I passed the Abbot’s Hospital; founded in 1619 by George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury as a gift “out of my love to the place of my birth”. Built as a shelter for the elderly poor of the town – 12 single men and 8 single women, it’s not open to the public for touring, but if the door is open do pop in to the edge pf the courtyard for a glimpse of the courtyard. It’s a stunning building and I enjoy popping in whenever I’m in Guildford.

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Abbot’s Hospital built 1619

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Abbots Hospital built 1619

The High Street contains some fantastic old buildings, the Guildhall with it’s marvellous clock.

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the Guildhall and it’s fabulous clock

I passed the Three Pigeons Pub; a mid-18th century pub with a fabulous facade modelled on a late 17th century house in Oxford.

Further up the High Street at the junction of Upper High Street, is a statue of George Abbot looking not quite down the High Street.

On my way back down the High Street I stopped off at the Holy Trinity Church where George Abbot is buried. There was a choir practising for a concert that night; Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’….I wish now that I had made the effort to go watch. Missed opportunity.

I  strolled along the Town Path, a narrow lane that takes you out towards the castle.

There’s a wonderful sundial featuring Edward and Eleanor (1272-1307) on one of the buildings in Castle Street.

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Edward and Eleanor sundial Guildford

A visit to the castle is a must, with fabulous views across the town. Built shortly after the 1066 invasion of England by William the Conqueror, today the Keep is the most substantial section that remains. It is however not mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book so was probably built later. The gardens are a kaleidoscope of colourful flowers and plants.

I searched for the Alice Through the Looking Glass sculpture eventually and found it within a small garden in the perimeter of the castle grounds; a memorial to Lewis Carroll who stayed in his sisters’ house; The Chestnuts from 1868 until his death in 1898.

I walked downhill and passed through Castle Arch; constructed in 1256 by John of Gloucester , King Henry III’s master mason.

As I strolled along Quarry Street I passed the Guildford Museum so popped in for a short visit…..the museum forms the gatehouse and annex of Guildford Castle and houses as fantastic collection of artefacts with over over 75,000 objects, dating from c.500,000 BC (the Lower Palaeolithic) to the modern day.

I had planned to walk along the River Wey to find the Alice and the Rabbit sculpture, so set off, first visiting St Mary’s Church where they were preparing for a wedding. Sadly no pilgrim’s stamp.

I crossed the medieval town bridge, constructed with wood in 920, it has stood for 7 centuries (albeit partially destroyed in 1900 by a flood),

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Guildford Bridge

and found what I was looking for…what a delight.

Along the way I passed St Nicholas Parish Church which didn’t appear to be open. It’s a marvellous looking building and a church has stood on that site since 1300.

Another delightful sculpture is at the bottom of the High Street; The Surrey Scholar by Allan Sly, unveiled in 2002.

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The Scholar, Guildford

After a few hours I made my way back to the airbnb and spent the rest of the day, preparing a good meal, repacking my backpack and resting…a long sleep was beneficial.

Here’s a link in case you’re interested in finding out more about the Abbot’s Hospital
https://www.abbotshospital.org/

In all, Guildford is a fascinating town with a wonderful history and so much to see. Although I have visited Guildford a few times in the past, I was glad of the opportunity to spend some more time there. It’s such a fascinating place.

In case you missed Day 4 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click here
I’ve made a short video of my day in Guildford

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloThursday 23rd August 2018 Day 3 – Four Marks/Alton to Farnham : 18.8 kms / 40,128 steps elevation 125 meters –
This should have been a lot more, but for some reason map my walk stopped working well before Farnham and I didn’t notice till I stopped for pizza.

Started off early today so I could visit the Jane Austen house museum and church in Chawton. Wonderful. 3.02kms / 7,731 steps

Chawton was an absolute delight. I walked along to see the house where Jane’s brother Edward lived after he was adopted by the Knight’s and subsequently inherited. Unfortunately the house wasn’t open for visiting, but the church was amazing. So incredible to think that she, Jane Austen, walked through that very entrance all those years ago. Quite extraordinary.

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St Nicholas Church Chawton

The Jane Austen House Museum is so poignant and it was amazing to have been able to visit it. I enjoyed a quiet stroll through the house, having arrived just before a large group fortunately, so I was able to take some lovely photos. From there I walked back to the main road and took the bus to Alton. My time in Chawton had eaten up a substantial part of the morning and I had along way to go, and it was raining…..I’ll do a separate blog about the house

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Jane Austen’s House Museum, Chawton

I found a fairy house 😊😊😊 Saw this in Chawton after a visit to Jane Austen’s House.

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a fair house in Chawton

In Alton my sleeping bag and I parted company. I’d managed to sort accommodation for the 3 outstanding nights, so sent it home. Never has the expression ‘a weight off my shoulders’ meant exactly that!! It cost more to post it than what I paid for the blessed thing. 🤔🙄🙄

I stopped for lunch in Alton before visiting St Lawrence Church. It was raining when I left the AirBnb this morning, but the sun came out just after midday, so I was looking forward to a good day. I felt more energetic today than yesterday.

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lunch in Alton

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Today I ‘hit the hills’ OMG…up and down and down and up in a never ending climb. I saw some fantastic houses and stopped off in some stunning churches, but holy moly….the camino wasn’t like this..although Spain got quite hilly, it wasn’t till after I had been walking for 6 days!!! I had a chance to aclimatise! Truly this day wore me out 😦

The villages along the route are a delight!! So many quaint little houses; those picture-postcard houses you see…..just stunning.

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In Holybourne I stopped off at the Church of Holy Rood, dating back to the 10th century. Unfortunately it was closed but there was a lovely big pond or “bourne” nearby with a bench, so I stopped, took my shoes and socks off and stretched out for an hour while I chatted to my daughter back home. The joy of whatsapp 😉 It was so peaceful and relaxing with chimes hanging from the branches of the trees gently tinkling in the breeze and ducks and wild birds flitting about. Heaven. Before I left I briefly meandered through the village….stunning houses…oh my gosh.

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The church in Holybourne

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my resting spot for today

Then back to the route which was a varied as you could imagine……

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Just before Upper Froyle I saw there was a pub (off the route – a long way off the route!!); The Hen and Chicken, at the bottom of the hill and decided to stop there for lunch. I arrived ordered a coke and a plate of hot chips. The coke was delivered quite quickly and then I waited and waited and waited….no chips. Eventually I went up to the counter and asked when they were likely to arrive…only to be told by the dim-witted girl behind the counter who was too busy flirting with the men who were arriving during the 45 minutes I waited…that Oh I didn’t realise you wanted food!! FFS. How often do you have to say “and a plate of hot chips please” for it to penetrate the fog? I was so angry. Not only was I still hungry, I had wasted nigh on an hour and I still had to climb back up the blasted hill to return to the route! Gahhhh.

I very grudgingly retraced my steps and soon reached Upper Froyle where I stopped at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary. There has been a church on this site for over 1000 years, and parts of the building date from the 1300s. The interior is beautiful. I absolutely love these old churches and am quite addicted to visiting them.

Not long after that I walked past Pax Hill (Peace Hill): near Bentley was the family home of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement, and his wife, Olave

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Paxhill –

Bentley was the next village up where I stopped at the 12th century St Mary’s Church for a bit of respite. I quickly popped into the church then sat in the yard for a rest,  after which I walked along the path to see the ancient yew trees mentioned in the guide book. Phenomenal. The life-span of Yew trees stretch back into pre-history with some of them reaching a girth of 6m or more.

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awesome Yew trees

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double-canopy ancient Yew trees propped up in the churchyard in Bentley

After that I went on a fruitless jaunt to find something mentioned in the guide book, and ended up doing a completely wasted effort and a lot more walking than I wanted!!

I passed from Hampshire into Surrey quite late in the day; the sun was beginning to sink towards the horizon

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19:26 sunset on day 3 – I was hoping to see more sunsets actually, but mostly it was cloudy

shortly after this I saw another sign: St Swithun’s Way and got really excited…totally forgetting that I walk at a pace of 4kms an hour when I’m not exhausted, and don’t have a heavy backpack on!!! Sob Sob It took over an hour before I reached Farnham

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Farnham!!!! – still a way to go

Not long after passing this sign I crossed the county boundary from Hampshire into Surrey….

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looking back ……I crossed from Hampshire into Surrey under that tree at 19:40

I passed a group of cows having dinner and was soon in the precincts of Farnham.

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….till the cows come home

I had a fantastic, albeit very tiring day – saw awesome churches, gorgeous historical houses, got 2 stamps for my passport and went on a couple of fruitless jaunts to see things mentioned in the guide, that I couldn’t find….even the locals had no freaking idea what I was talking about 😳🤔🤔🤔

And then: Farnham – Finally!! I reached Farnham!!! I couldn’t believe how long it took.  Making my way downhill I sat down, or should I say almost sank onto the floor in exhaustion, in Pizza Express at exactly 9pm. I don’t usually drink coke, but I can tell you that I desperately needed a sugar rush…. it was a hard day (who knew England had so many bloody hills!!!) I’d been walking in the gloaming since 20:11 literally right after I took the photo of the cows 😂 😂 😂 but thankfully I had my reflective night gear on so I was visible along the gravelled, very uneven, unlit, and steadily darkening roads – I didn’t see a soul for well over 2 hours before I got to Farnham and for much of the way I stumbled along in the dark 🙄🙄🙄 But I made it. I passed Farnham Castle on the way in, it looks awesome. Will have to visit tomorrow.

While having pizza I did a google map search for my accommodation and discovered that earlier when I arrived, I had unknowingly walked right past the place where I was to stay for the night 🙄🙄 and I was so tired I couldn’t bear the thought of having to walk back up what was a steep hill. After pizza, I decided to get a taxi to my AirBnb and getting to bed 🛏️ as soon as possible…but it was not to be….I called for a cab to take me back up the hill. There was a 45 minute wait and it was already 9.40 pm so I pulled on my big girl panties and started walking back uphill. But when I got to the turn off it was absolutely pitch dark and I couldn’t see a thing. So in desperation I phoned the cab company again and I think the controller could hear the despair in my voice coz she sent me a driver immediately. However, when he got there he refused to drive me coz the roads were gravel and he didn’t want to damage his car. 😩😩 ffs.

Anyway after 5 minutes of serious persuasion he let me in the cab and driving slowly we trundled up the hill and to my destination… Arrived just before 11pm. 😳 Holy moly. Ridiculous. Thankfully my hosts had been out for dinner themselves so were still up and happy to wait for me to arrive! So embarrassing.

My bed for the night.

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my delicious bed 🙂 – AirBnB delivers again

I was so relieved to finally get to my Airbnb I would have slept in a stable, but fortunately I had this gorgeous bed to fall into. Quick shower and into bed 😴😴😴😴

Goodnight all. Catch up with you tomorrow.
A short video of Day 3 along the Pilgrim’s Way

In case you missed Day 2 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click here

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