For weight distribution it’s nice to have all your pack weight as close to your back as possible. But for convenience especially when raining, it’s good to have your tent on the outside of the pack. Then you can put your stuff in the pack and cover it with a bag cover while you put the tent down.
I managed to get the tent down and my giant poncho on over the top of everything just before the main rain hit. I looked dodgey. There was no avoiding that. Early hours of the morning, hood up, and a giant hump on my back like a turtle (but not the teenage ninja type, the thirty something plodder type). I walked in a tired, dazed and painful haze. I should have walked less the day before, and slept more.
Through mid Devon the rivers seemed more polluted and there were more dairies. The hedgerows had less variety of plant life and I wasn’t sure if that was natural variation or a change in the way they were managed.
The rain kept coming and so did the hills. Several villages and nowhere to sit. I began to wish out loud.
“It would be so nice. A covered bench, to sit and rest out of the rain. I think every village ought to have one.” I said.
I paused on a large yellow salt bin and ate a snack before tackling a big hill in Zeal Monochorum. When I reached the top of the hill I saw…a large covered bench, under a old tree. It was ornately carved all over and covered by a large wooden shelter.
“Thank you!” I whispered excitedly.
Clearly the residents of Zeal Monochorum are a wise wondrous people, precognicent of my needs. That, or anyone coming up that bitch of a hill, in a place with this weather, has the same thoughts. I ate my oat bar breakfast, called Miranda and my Mum and marvelled at the beauty of my hearts desire.
Through the rain, I saw Lapford sat on the side of a hill and it had an unusually large number of solar panels on the roofs. Then the rain intensified and it disappeared like Brigadoon. My imagination began to fill in the marvels of exotic Lapford. It was much bigger on the map than all the other villages I had gone through. Clearly with so many solar panels, they would be an environmentally conscious village. The map showed a post office, there would be local shops, a little cafe where environmentalists would gather and work on changing society. Maybe I would meet an amazing person there who would offer me shelter.
Heading up the hill and starting to pass buildings, a man leaned out of his car and asked me if I was lost.
“No, I’m just headed into town.” I replied.
“Ha! Town.” He said mocking the grandeur of the term.
“Oh, er village.” I corrected.
There were several elderly people at a bus stop and I walked amongst modern suburb-style houses and cars. The post office, I was told, closed down a year ago. No, there were no shops in the village. Yes there was a pub, but it didn’t open until the evening.
I sheltered in the empty church briefly, but the rain showed no sign of stopping and it seemed rude to eat my oatcakes there so I moved on. The most direct way to Eggesford would be along the main road, but with no pavement and a heavy traffic of fast cars, it wasn’t possible. The footpath I was forced to take went a couple of miles out of the way, up a big hill and round. I glared down at the route of the road jealously.
“In the future,” I said darkly, “when there are less cars, we’ll be able to walk along the roads and reclaim the best routes. I look forward to that.”