|Colin's Postcode South in pictures|
Day 1 - My garden flowers were nodding sagely at me. The gardener was noisily strimming the hedges and annoying me as I tried to voice my intentions on my camcorder. Nothing was different from any other day and few people knew I was even attempting to walk to the coast.
Day 1 - I followed the winding curves of the river Wye for about three quarters of an hour, enjoying the warmth of the day and receiving companionable little waves from canoeists who glided past me now and then.
Day 1 - Goodrich Castle, which I wanted to explore, was open, so I wandered around contentedly for about an hour as I explored it’s mostly intact rooms and turrets.
Day 1 - I joined part of the route of the Wye Valley Walk for a while after leaving the ruins of Goodrich Castle.
Day 1 - I took a long, climbing track through Court Wood which suddenly gave an open view to my left along the valley I had seen earlier, but also introduced a severity to the climb which made me grit my teeth a little.
Day 1 - I found myself on an open stretch of river bank. It was a lovely spot and too good to pass by, so I sat by the side of the river with woodland at my back and a long valley between low hills to my right.
Day 1 - It was now that I began to encounter stiles on public walkways that had become the victims of farmer neglect. Their upkeep was certainly not a priority to the farmers around here and I was forced to battle my way through brambles and nettles every time I reached another field boundary.
Day 1 - Chapel Hill wasn’t large, but it was steep and I gained height rapidly and lost my breath equally quickly. I rested near the summit, mostly because I suddenly had a good view back north of all the ground I had covered since Symonds Yat, which was now in the middle distance.
Day 1 - The town of Coleford at six p.m. on a Friday evening was a quiet place and I didn’t see many people out and about as I worked my way through its centre and past a clock tower, outlined against a blue sky as empty as a blank canvas.
Day 1 - From Twitter: Actually got a signal in the pub in Bream. A good day's walking, bloody tired now mind. Tent pitched at the edge of some woodland. Feet have held up, bar a sore area on the sole of my left foot. Some work required in the morning. Pub is called The Rising Sun. Not buzzing, even for a Friday night. Dance music with chirpy-type sound going on hasn't impressed one of the older regulars. "Sounds like a Budgie being kicked around a room," I overheard him tell his missus.
Day 2 - I passed a house and yard which contained a ruinous vehicle I likened to an ancient school bus. It had a rust-nibbled bonnet and was dressed in faded blue paint, vegetation sprawled over bowed plastic windows. The house cat watched me disdainfully and refused to be drawn by my earnest entreaties to pet it, so that I gave up and moved on.
Day 2 - Now, I stood looking at Chepstow castle and trying to come to a decision. I was thirsty and fancied a pint. The time was now 4:50pm. Did I make a detour into the town, or carry on towards the Severn Bridge?
Day 2 - It took about forty minutes to walk the entire length of the 'old' Severn Bridge, although this included a couple of stops to do some filming and simply marvel at the size of the structure I was on. Tiny and delicate, it had seemed, from some miles away but not now.
Day 3 - A frustrating day of wrong turns and enforced detours. I began to lose count of the farms that I passed, sometimes reaching them by way of small lanes but more frequently accessing them via their own agricultural land.
Day 4 - I took a few moments to sit near the fountains at the Marina in Bristol to take stock. I’d already ruminated over my itinerary and knew that I was getting way behind, so I’d decided to just head for Chew Magna and then see how far past it I could get by day’s end.
Day 4 - Bristol spilled out around Dundry Hill, receding to middle distance with the well-worn estates I had negotiated that morning and back further, where the Clifton Suspension Bridge spanned the Avon gorge.
Day 4 - East Dundry gave me a generous amount of muddy woodlands and muddy fields to traverse, interspersed with a generous amount of cow manure. My progress therefore was literally bogged down, and I lost time as a result.
Day 4 - I set off on well-kept, gravel paths between mown lawns along the east side of Chew Valley Lake. It was all as neat as any park, with several crossing paths and information boards about the local wildlife and how this man-made reservoir (for this is what it was) was built back in the 1950’s at the cost of drowned farmland.
Day 5 - This is me entering Mendip country for real and tackling one of its hills for the first time. I actually converged on the end of the dog walker’s route at Harptree Combe as I angled across a field and joined Western Lane, itself part of the Monarch’s Way route.
Day 5 - As I walked, I noticed how easier it had been to locate and pass over stiles today. It seems that the local farmers and authorities take more care of walker’s routes around these parts than in the Forest of Dean or Bristol, if not their outbuildings.
Day 5 - The morning had worn away into afternoon as I passed over the expanse of rural scenery; crossing stiles, finding gaps in hedges and going through gates that were in various states of disrepair. I thought to myself how easy and enjoyable I was finding today’s walking, despite being in hilly country.
Day 5 - A traffic sign, medieval style, pointing me in the direction of the tiny city of Wells.
Day 6 - I was sharing a bit of pasture with several cows and looking down on the village of West Pennard. A handsome selection of evergreens was clustered around the equally handsome façade of the 15th century church of St Nicholas.
Day 6 - I reached a cattle drove and started out along it. It was the centre one of a trio of droves and so was called, naturally enough, Middle Drove. Well, it was lovely to walk along; straight, open and sunny with the moving canopy of trees and hedges throwing dancing shapes across the runway of grass before me.
Day 6 - I had reached the village of West Lydford and it was here that I stopped, briefly. Actually, I stopped to rest on the old 17th century (restored 1846) Mead Lane Bridge, which spanned the River Brue. A soft drizzle had but recently ceased and the daylight was still a little wan with cloud cover. A large Weeping Willow was leaning over, seeming to hold its branches, festooned with many narrow leaves, just above the inert surface of the Brue.
Day 7 - It was a long day, my feet were hurting, it was (remarkably) growing hot and there was a pub ahead of me at the bottom of a downhill street in Yeovil. It was meant to be, so I stopped at The Black Horse at 1:15pm for a drink and a rest.
Day 7 - After another hour’s lane walking I stopped to rest at the little hamlet of East Chelborough, standing in front of some handsome thatched houses. There was a break in the hedge here, so I was finally able to appreciate and film a lovely shallow valley to my left, comprising of wooded slopes and open grassland.
Day 8 - In the morning I entered a spread of pasture, upon which sat twenty-six lofty transmitter pylons; the location of one of the main transmitters of the BBC World Service in Europe. I had imagined that I would be able to walk between and beneath all of these giants and in fact, satellite maps clearly showed a path through the site. I can only think that these are paths set out for maintenance men and engineers because, clearly, Joe public would not be allowed to just traipse merrily through, potentially getting fried to death as they go.
Day 8 - I crested a rise and was immediately presented with an all-round view that had me reaching for my camcorder. I was in hilly country for sure now, with sheets of moorland and pasture stretching away on all sides.
Day 8 - Chesil Beach was visible at last and within touching distance. It lay as a thin strip between the sea and a narrow body of water called West Fleet, the white rime of breaking waves forming a thin line along its length.
Day 8 - Eventually I reached the coast, made my way up some steps, then onto a wooden platform with a hand rail on one side. The sun was riding down the sky as I walked the length of this and took some photographs. Then, I stepped onto Chesil Beach.
Day 8 - I walked with some difficulty across a rock-strewn bank and sat down at the edge of the sea. The waves crashed onto the beach with an even regularity; half meter cascades of foam, which sucked and pulled noisily and swept thousands of pebbles onwards with a strange, roaring whoosh.
Day 8 - The final photo, an unashamed selfie, to celebrate the completion of Postcode South.