Thursday, 4 September 2008

ridgeway recollections

Prompted by Alan and Darren's trip at the weekend and my visit to Avebury the previous one, I thought that I'd post a few lines about the Ridgeway.

The Ridgeway was the first National Trail that I walked. I didn't walk it from end to end in one go like I have other routes, I section hiked it over a number of long weekends. This was good practice for me at the time as I'd not done any backpacking since my early twenties. I had been gathering bits of backpacking kit that I wanted to try out and get used to using on the trail. And doing it in bite sized pieces gave me a gentle re-introduction to the pleasures of self sufficient travel.

One of the first things that I realised when I walked the route was that water was hard to come by. The Harvey's map shows the location of standpipes but that's not a guarantee that they will be working when you find them. Water can be taken from cattle troughs but again use of these depended on whether you could get a feed from the valve on the trough. The other option is to sift, filter and boil the green water that you usually find in them. The route passes through a number of villages, and as Darren and Alan found out refreshment can be found at these. I find the 'I'll have a pot of tea and can you fill my water bag' approach usually works. On one weekend I asked someone in their front garden whether they could fill my platy up. Needless to state that my usual water carrier, a 1.8l platy hoser, would be woefully inadequate if I needed to carry water for a camp as well as for the next day. Additional water carriers are a must if you're planning to wild camp.

On the subject of camping there are not many official campsites along the route, and as you journey north they become fewer and further apart. In fact there isn't one between the one at Chinnor and the one at Ivinghoe at the end of the route. Opportunities for wild camping on this section are scarce too. The backpackers Club directories are a good source of possible wild camps and water locations.

I'll pick out some highlights for other posts.

No comments: