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Wednesday, 3 January 2007

GLORIOUS MUD

My LEJOG personal trainer, Phil, took me away from this entire route planning nonsense to take me out for an airing.

We met at a lovely little pub in Bartlow, which promised to be open at eleven (see, this is serious training - starting before mid-day!) Disastrously, the pub was shut; they were taking a well-earned break after their heroic Christmas efforts. Strangely, the last time I had been to this same pub, seventeen years ago, it was also mysteriously shut. Strange things afoot here – possibly a Mafia laundering scam?

So unwilling to leave the cars in a place where they were likely to get sprayed with lead, we parked them round the corner at a suicidally narrow bit of the main road where they could be crushed by the passing farm trucks, and set off on our quest to find another pub – On Foot!

Things started promisingly, with a visit to the remains of the Seven Hills (now only three and a bit still visible). I have lived in Cambridgeshire for almost thirty years, yet these hills must be the county’s best kept secret. This is not surprising, as our county does not seem to enforce the rights of walkers, maintain any signposting or even have any people extolling the virtues of getting ‘out there’ and having a walk. This is perhaps why so many of the county’s young women are so appallingly fat.

But I digress! (Ooh – I could get on my soap box now and rant for hours!)

Back to the Hills! And fine hills they are too. They are actually burial mounds from Roman times and some probably ennobled tweed clad Victorian gent got a load of the locals to grave rob it. All the good stuff disappeared (probably to his Hall where it disappeared in a big fire later) and only the little bits & pieces ended up in a museum. I suppose that’s a bit like life, really…

I think I have mentioned in the past how Phil seems to sniff out the boggiest, gloopiest patches of countryside in the known world, and today was to be no exception. Well, he excelled himself. I should have known this was coming when he dismounted from his German War Machine clad in full gaiters and a wicked smile.

The pub in Ashdon was delightful, with freshly home-cooked ham and egg & chips washed down with two beautiful pints of Adnams. However, the Trainer was not satisfied that we had done enough and so we bundled out into the now much cooler outside and continued on our way. We then found a most peculiar sight – the remains of an old railway coach standing on the remains of the platform of what was once Fallowden Halt, shut during the Beeching years. The landowner told us all about it – a thoroughly pleasant chap. Didn’t get offered a cup of tea though. A cup of tea would have done quite nicely at that point…

Not long afterwards we were at the highpoint of the walk: 113m above sea level! I could feel a nose-bleed coming on so we hurried on back to the cars, getting there just before we needed to break out the head torches! Nine miles, no passes!

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