Walking Day 7 – Second Severn Crossing to Chepstow
We’re Stepping Over Into Wales!
‘So…..do you want to go for a walk today?’ I asked Daddy Pants somewhat tentatively. He was fairly hungover and certainly not firing on all cylinders.
‘Ummm….’ he grunted. ‘I’m hungry.’ And I knew I had him. If he was hungover AND hungry then it meant that he wasn’t too hung over to walk. If he wasn’t hungry then there would be no walking today – at least not the route I had planned.
‘How about we go to ‘Spoons and have breakfast there?’ I thrust the map into his eye-line. ‘And you can look at the route.’ He grunted again, blinked in the sunlight and sleepily got out of bed. I watched him totter a bit as he put on his shorts and wondered for a brief moment if I was being a little too ambitious for the day.
But the thing about today that was particularly special was that we didn’t have Baggy Pants with us. She was staying with Granny and Grandpa as we had been out the night before to a birthday party. Which meant that we could – in theory – get a good stomp on and cover some ground.
After breakfast – and ascertaining that DP was in fact quite capable of walking – we drove to the Second Severn Crossing where we finished the previous walk. We parked by Caroline Cottage on a small lane by the Severn Way, hoisted our backpacks and harnessed Dog up. ‘Maybe we should get Dog a little backpack so he can carry his own water,’ I suggested as we moved out. Of all the weight I was carrying, more than half of it was Dog’s water. He’s massive and drinks a lot.
‘He’d keel over after 2 miles,’ Daddy Pants pointed out. ‘He’s a very lazy dog.’ Dog decided to wee with more jest than usual on a wilted looking patch of nettles. He cocked his leg uncommonly high as a point of principle.
I am not – he explained to us via the medium of urination – lazy. I am concise with my actions. Plus – he pointed out with an overlarge dump – I behave exactly as a large carnivore should. I excel at lolling about with small bursts of energy. It’s my metier. He demonstrated by this by stopping for an emergency groin lick.
‘That’s a good point,’ I replied. ‘He is lazy. Unless there’s a squirrel to chase and then he has…oh….5-6 seconds of intense enthusiasm followed by several minutes resting under a tree. Perhaps we’d better not get him a backpack. He would look cute though. There’s a wonderful dog on Instagram that I follow who carries all his own stuff. He has panniers. Dog should have panniers. He’d look so cool,’ I lamented.
‘For about 1 minute before he declared war on the offending article,’ Daddy pants pointed out. ‘And ripped it to shreds. And he’d get too hot. Plus he wouldn’t let you put it on him. There was quite a lot of nonsense when you tried to put the cool jacket on him.’ Daddy Pants was right. No panniers for Dog. When I had tried to put the cool jacket on him no amount of sausages would persuade the growling animal to come out from under the table to be adorned with a wet coat. He wasn’t having any of it. It will ruin my street cred he told me through raised lips. I keep meaning to take the offending article back to the shop but haven’t quite got round to it yet.
It was about this point – 5 to 6 minutes from the car – that I felt something wet on the back of my legs. A quick investigation showed that the Tupperware of fruit that I had so lovingly packed had bust open in my bag leaving a sweet and sticky mixture of crushed blueberries, pineapple and mango smushed all over the inside of my bag and dripping down the back of my legs. I was now a giant walking, talking wasp magnet. I ferreted for some baby wipes and to my horror realised that I had left home without them. I begrudgingly rinsed my hands off as best I could with some of Dog’s water whilst Dog himself assisted with the leg clear up.
Being licked by Dog is a lot like being moisturised by a warm fish with fur.
His breath smells pretty rank (no, there’s nothing wrong with his teeth – he is just blessed with monstrous halitosis) and therefore so did my legs after his through clean up efforts. I was, at least, less appealing to wasps. Although I feared I might be more appealing to passing dung beetles. Don’t say I never do anything for you, he murmured as he went back to licking his willy.
We wandered along the Severn Way which felt remarkably like we were in Skyrim. The land stretched before us in flat green, brown, grey and silver. There was barely any wind and the sun started to shine down with tremendous zest. We stood and stared at the water and the two bridges – the old one to the right and the new(ish) one to the left. They were quite beautiful. Two long metal insects slicing over the water towards Wales.
‘We’ll get to Wales today,’ I said with sudden realisation.
‘Chepstow,’ nodded DP. ‘We’ll be officially out of England for about the next 10 years.’ We giggled in anticipation of all the walks ahead of us. And the magnitude of the task we had taken on.
‘Except when we’re at home in England,’ I pointed out. DP nodded. Dog stood and stared at us as we pontificated. He wasn’t nearly so moved by the task ahead. ‘Come on then everyone! Let’s get to Wales.’
A little further up the path, a lowing herd of cows greeted us. When I say ‘greeted’ I mean Stared At Us Unhappily As We Tried To Pass Their Babies Who Were All Crowded Onto The Path. And oh my these were young babies! They were teeny tiny (as much as a cow ever is teeny tiny) and one of them still looked damp from being born and was struggling to stand. ‘Erm….you’ve got Dog right?’ I asked. I’m a bit scared of cows. But I’m particularly scared of them when they have babies as they become Crazy Bovine Calf Protectors. ‘Which way are you going?’
Daddy Pants circled around the back of one particularly angry looking Jersey cow, ‘Just don’t get between her and the baby.’ He didn’t need to remind me.
‘Be ready to release the hound if they come at us,’ I reminded him. Dog glared at me, Oh! So you’d sacrifice your first fur born would you?! Dog is also scared of all cows and horses since he was chased by some particularly lively Dartmoor ponies several years ago. The Feisty Jersey started taking threatening steps towards us but we scurried past and got ourselves to the other side of the field in record time.
All the bovine excitement had an effect on me. ‘I need to pee,’ I stated. So I did what I have done a thousand times before and I pulled my bottom out and wee’d in the grass on the side of the path. A long and joyous piddle with a superb view of the estuary. I’d just like to clarify that there were no people around to terrify with my bright white rump. Dog came over to sniff my ear as I was Dog height and nudged me gently with his snout. Hello. What are you doing here? Can I assist? His inquisitive nose nearly pushed me over into the nettles but I grabbed hold of him and steadied myself just in time. He licked my ear by way of mutual celebration. I pulled my shorts up and as I did so I realised that they felt different. Lighter and bigger somehow. My bladder must have been really full if my shorts fit better than they did before. But no, it wasn’t that.
I felt in my pocket for my phone but of course, it wasn’t there.
It was sitting idly on the ground with a decorative sprinkling of my urine covering it from top to bottom.
I retrieved it out of the damp grass and lacking as I was in baby wipes – wiped it on my shorts. What was a bit of wee when added to dog breath and mixed fruit puree? I really was starting to be every wild dog’s dream. ‘I just wee’d on my phone,’ I told DP.
‘Does it still work?’ he asked realistically.
And finally, we got to the start of the bridge. I was out of caffeine so we stopped at the motorway service station to top up. We had another Strange And Ugly Picnic by the side of the road before we moved off into the now not insignificant July heat.
The start of the Severn Crossing was absolutely brilliant. We were treated to a cool breeze and a stunning view. The bridge is an architectural adventure! Enormous spider silks of steel peel away from the uprights and gracefully stop the whole enormous bulk crashing into the Severn Estuary. I even felt compelled to share the view with my IG followers and did a quick LIVE. I love ad hoc out-and-about LIVES. The water, the land, the bridge, the cars and the warm day were a magical combination. We all felt flushed with excitement and the joy of the experience. But then the day got hot. Like, REALLY hot.
Hot, concrete, angular and utterly exhausting.
I wasn’t so worried about the human parts of the expedition but Dog did not look at all happy. The pavement was hot, the air was hot, Dog was hot. We stopped as often as we could in tiny slices of shadow caused by the occasional uprights so we could rest him and give him water. But wherever we went it was hot! If we turned back then we would have to walk all the way home in the hot, hot, hot. It was quicker to keep going forward and find shade off the bridge just as soon as we could. I would never normally walk such a big black and furry dog in such heat but it caught us by surprise. It wasn’t meant to be that hot!
I instigated Chairman Mao’s Forced March and got a serious trot on to get us off the bridge. I feared for Dog’s hydration levels (he drank most of the water), his poor hot feetsies on the asphalt and potential heat exhaustion. He wasn’t displaying any signs of distress but he was clearly way hotter than he was happy with.
Anyhow, we marched the last half of the bridge at quite a pace. We overtook a man who we had been constantly bumping into on the walk thus far. He was walking over the bridge just because he felt like it. Much like us really! I love it when I meet people who are on their own mini adventure. We chatted about walking and where was good to go, whether to wear boots or sandals in this weather and if he was camping or driving home. He was a Boot Wearer. I am a Sandal Wearer.
When we finally made it across the bridge we were all ragged, hot and very pleased to find a park with shade. We all collapsed gratefully under a tree and supped down the last of our water. Daddy Pants’ parents were coming to meet us with Baggy Pants and drive us back to our car. We’d had a truly marvellous adventure but we could have done without it being so incredibly hot.
We will be doing the next stage of the walk over the summer (comment below if you’re like details about joining us) but in the meantime, we are doing a Worm Hole Walk – which means we are jumping forward along the coastline to Pembrokeshire for a hiking and camping adventure. Then we will come back and fill in the gaps along the coastline. It makes it a little out of order but for this part of the journey it truly felt like the best thing to do.
We can’t wait for the next stage!