The Ridgeway: Sparsholt Firs to Goring
I woke up early around 6:30AM and started to make a cup of tea while I ate breakfast, some oats I'd left to soak overnight. Once I'd finished eating I set about getting ready to leave, packing my back and taking down my tent, I was pretty slow at getting ready and did not leave till 7:30AM. Heading back to the route, I stopped to fill up my water bottle, at a water tank which was dedicated by his parent to Peter Wren who had died aged 14.
The day was quite cold and the overnight rain had created a lot of puddles on the route. There were few people about though over the next few kilometres I saw a couple of people walking dogs. There was another Neolithic fort called Letcombe Castle just off the trail but I did not make the effort to see it.
I can't say that the walking today was very interesting, just trundling along endless tree lined bridleways with little to see except an occasional view or some fields. It was still a little cold and the wind was picking up, I was tired from the day before but still had a long distance to cover today, but I made good speed in the early part of the day. After crossing a road I sat down for a quick break and a little while later passed a monument dedicated to Baron Wantage just off the route.
The weather was getting worse, colder, windier and occasional rain, the day became quite grey, there were very few people around, though I did see a few walkers and other people walking their dogs. There was lots of horse racing gallops about, the whole of this area seemed dedicated to horse breeding and racing. After going under the A34 the path got quite muddy and a runner who passed me took a nasty fall some distance from me though she run off again after a few minutes. Even better it started to rain and I had to put on my waterproofs, though I was quite glad of the extra warmth they proved, the wind was cutting.
Heading through another series of gallops there was a fellow riding a lovely looking horse, about the only one I'd seen despite this being a horse heavy area. My pace was slacking, I was feeling very tired and the long distance was getting to me, and I sat down to have a break. The weather had suddenly improved, the rain had stopped and was getting overly warm, so I took off my waterproofs. While I was sitting down two walkers passed me, they stopped to talk, telling me they had wild camped at the Uffington Horse last night having done around 20 miles the day before. They were seriously light-weight walkers their backpacks didn't look large enough to hold enough equipment for camping, though they were doing the whole of the Ridgeway over a few days. My own pack probably weighed around 7kg without food and water and my pack was full to bursting, though a lot of was due to my large sleeping bag. They set off at a pace and I followed along at a much slower pace, though the end was near, but at the speed I was going it might take a while.
I heading on gradually going downhill until I reached a road, marking 2 miles to the village of Streatley and Goring my destination for the day. I was glad to get this far but the road was slow going, though I managed to notice the large and expensive looking houses that bordered it. I eventually arrived at the village, crossing the river Thames and headed to the train station via a handy cafe where I had a restorative coffee. Reaching the train station I was pleasantly surpised to see that I could get back to my local station really easily, rather than having to go to Paddington and change. It was even more pleasant to sit down and wait for the train while eating the sandwich I had purchased at the cafe;