Torcross -Dartmouth (10.2 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 476.7 miles / Distance to Poole–152.7 miles
A combination of this morning’s wet and miserable weather and the large amount of road walking, made the first half of this stage a bit dull and depressing. When I was walking by the sea I couldn’t see it through the fog and when the weather brightened I was nowhere near the sea in order to see it! Instead I spent the vast majority of the time tramping through wet and cow-filled fields and along busy and narrow roads.
I am very used to driving along the narrow roads, with the hedges which actually contain solid granite disguised as soft and bouncy foliage (never ever try and reverse into them thinking there is some give to them – you will be greeted instead with a crunching sound!) and I am quite accustomed to walking on roads without pavements. But today’s roads, with their twists and turns most of which were on steep hills, had even me slightly afraid.
That’s because the car drivers think that they own the road. There is a sense of superiority, especially when us walkers are soaking wet and are clearly trudging uphill at no great speed. We are an inconvenience and we get in the way. It is bad enough having to jump into the hedge (made of granite remember!) to avoid being squished like road kill, but when I have to also make sure Toby is out of harms way too, it can all get a bit tricky.
On one stretch today I found myself stopping almost every couple of steps as I tried to make myself as small as possible against the hedge. I narrowly avoided buses, cars, vans and even one vehicle that seemed to speed up when it saw me, and the worst thing about it was the fact that most people cursed me for it. I was doing them a favour and helping them out yet very few of the drivers said thank you.
Not all the drivers were so rude and one van even reversed back so I could comfortably step into a gateway rather than squish into a hedge. I found that when the drivers did acknowledge my side-stepping I was quickly cheered and much more likely to try to be helpful the next time I encountered an approaching vehicle. Yet when my effort and sacrifice (ok so it was nothing major, but I did sacrifice staying dry once or twice when I jumped into a soggy hedge rather than staying on the dry road!) was ignored I responded grumpily and was much less likely to be helpful next time around.
I lost count of how many cars I moved over for but the vast majority were ones with drivers who made no effort to thank me – I mean, how hard is it to raise your hand or nod your head in a show of appreciation?? As I sit and write this I now wonder about all the occasions in which people do nice but simple things for me – holding doors open, letting me out at a junction, letting me go first in a queue, bringing me a cup of tea, saying hello, serving me in a shop and many more things each and every day, how often do I say thank you? Do I have an attitude of superiority and expectation? Do I demand that others get out of my way? Or do I take a little time and a small amount of effort to say thank you to all those people who have made my day run a little more smoothly? I hope I am the latter and at the very least I hope I am now more aware of how it feels to be shunted aside without gratitude or consideration. And perhaps I should stop expecting to be thanked for my contributions and stop getting annoyed when people don’t notice me, and I should lead by a quiet yet thankful example.