July 2012 – Transition from hiker to backpacker – Cheddar to Wells 35km solo walk!

The 35km route! Red is planned and blue is actual. The detour at the beginning was to get around some dangerous cows, bulls and their calves.

The 35km route! Red is planned and blue is actual. The detour at the beginning was to get around some dangerous cows, bulls and their calves.

This trip was a major milestone for me. It was my first multi-day trip and would be the final walk before my big Dartmoor walk in September later on in that year.

It was an unusual trip in that I started out late to get to Cheddar for around 1900. So day 1 was just a short walk up the gorge followed by making camp. The majority of the 35km walk would be the following day.

The weather was great on the first day, but day two started with thunder storms (another first for me) and a lot of rain ๐Ÿ™‚

I learnt a lot of things on this trip that would stand me in good stead for Dartmoor.

Firstly this would be the first time I had pitched the new Akto tent. In addition I had learnt that under cold conditions, a firesteel isn’t good enough to light a Trangia stove. I did find away around this though, by putting the stove into my jacket to warm up prior to attempting to light it. This worked a treat!

Also, I discovered that the 500mL fuel bottle I had been using would not be large enough for the Dartmoor trip. To that end I ordered a larger 1 Ltr bottle to take its place.

I still remember this trip vividly – both for the weather and the excitement of doing my first solo wild camp!

As per usual I took hundreds of photos for my Facebook journal and have published a small selection of them here, which will hopefully give you a feel for the trip!

*Excited* All packed for my first camping trip!

*Excited* All packed for my first camping trip!

The town of Cheddar and its Gorge.

The town of Cheddar and its Gorge.

Heading out of Cheddar! Here I had started to grow a beard!

Heading out of Cheddar! Here I had started to grow a beard!

Here I have made it to the top of the gorge ready for my overnight stay!

Here I have made it to the top of the gorge ready for my overnight stay!

The location for my first camping spot!

The location for my first camping spot!

Laying out the Akto tent for the first time. Note as per good practice I have tied off one end of the tent to the rucksack!

Laying out the Akto tent for the first time. Note as per good practice I have tied off one end of the tent to the rucksack!

The first thing to do is put in the four inner pegs and the curved pole. Note this tent erects with the inner tent built in. This means it can be put up in the pouring rain, safe in the knowledge that the inside will be dry!

The first thing to do is put in the four inner pegs and the curved pole. Note this tent erects with the inner tent built in. This means it can be put up in the pouring rain, safe in the knowledge that the inside will be dry!

The last thing to do on the Akto tent is to extend the guy lines and just peg them down!

The last thing to do on the Akto tent is to extend the guy lines and just peg them down!

Erecting the tent for the first time took around 10 minutes. Nowadays I can do it in around 3 to 4 minutes!

Erecting the tent for the first time took around 10 minutes. Nowadays I can do it in around 3 to 4 minutes!

The tent and kit now fully unpacked and ready for use! Note at this stage I didn't know how to do up the Akto outer door - see my video for this somewhere in this blog!

The tent and kit now fully unpacked and ready for use! Note at this stage I didn’t know how to do up the Akto outer door – see my video for this somewhere in this blog!

The great view from my Akto tent!

The great view from my Akto tent!

The sun starts to go down!

The sun starts to go down!

Sat by my brand new Akto tent. This trip marked my transition from hiker to backpacker!

Sat by my brand new Akto tent. This trip marked my transition from hiker to backpacker!

Prepping the main meal involved a lot of pot and pan juggling!

Prepping the main meal involved a lot of pot and pan juggling!

The finished Bangers'n'Mash with onions, gravy and peas! It was yum! :)

The finished Bangers’n’Mash with onions, gravy and peas! It was yum! ๐Ÿ™‚

The head end of my new Akto tent!

The head end of my new Akto tent!

The foot end of my new Akto tent!

The foot end of my new Akto tent!

Breakfast in the rain!

Breakfast in the rain!

A thunder storm rolls in from the West (Click for full size)

A thunder storm rolls in from the West (Click for full size)

This annoyed me. Apart from the fact you are not allowed to use open fires here, the peeps that did this made the fire just how you see them in the movies - the result - one big mess. They should have peeled the turf back and made their fire in a dug out... *sigh*

This annoyed me. Apart from the fact you are not allowed to use open fires here, the peeps that did this made the fire just how you see them in the movies – the result – one big mess. They should have peeled the turf back and made their fire in a dug out… *sigh*

A look back down the gorge as the rain falls!

A look back down the gorge as the rain falls!

I had made the mistake of not putting my waterproof leggings on. The result was that I got soaked walking through this type of vegetation...

I had made the mistake of not putting my waterproof leggings on. The result was that I got soaked walking through this type of vegetation…

Charge!!!! A herd of cows decide to stampede towards me - I'm glad there is a fence between me and them!

Charge!!!! A herd of cows decide to stampede towards me – I’m glad there is a fence between me and them!

Followed! These cows followed me on the other side of the fence as I proceeded down the field. I have never seen cows exhibit this behaviour!

Followed! These cows followed me on the other side of the fence as I proceeded down the field. I have never seen cows exhibit this behaviour!

Even as I exited the field, the cows were determined to follow me as far as they could!

Even as I exited the field, the cows were determined to follow me as far as they could!

Not again! Once more a stampede of cows are headed my way - except this time I have no fence between them and me. I'm hoping at this point that they are going to stop....

Not again! Once more a stampede of cows are headed my way – except this time I have no fence between them and me. I’m hoping at this point that they are going to stop….

Booby Trap! - It seems that every gate in this area was surrounded by stinging nettles - I'm sure this wasn't coincidental...

Booby Trap! – It seems that every gate in this area was surrounded by stinging nettles – I’m sure this wasn’t coincidental…

Blagdon Lake!

Blagdon Lake!

In a barn wringing out my soaking socks - my boots leaked quite heavily :(

In a barn wringing out my soaking socks – my boots leaked quite heavily ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

A respite from the downpour!

A respite from the downpour!

An Olde Industrial Mine Chimney!

An Olde Industrial Mine Chimney!

A deer!

A deer!

Kit drying out time!

Kit drying out time!

Walking the Walk - all 35km of it!

Walking the Walk – all 35km of it!

The start of my descent!

The start of my descent!

Wells Cathedral

Wells Cathedral

And the GPS says.... 35.37km!!

And the GPS says…. 35.37km!!

Laters
RobP

About RobP

Got into backpacking in the spring of 2012. I started as a couch potato then made my way through walker, hiker and now backpacker! As you can see from below I have far too many hobbies! :)
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