Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.
Day 2, Bradford on Avon to Beckington.
Day 3, Beckington to Mells.
Our evening at The Swan Hotel in Bradford was delightful, and we started the second day with a little concern, since the directions from the walking tour company indicated that this route might be a little more difficult to follow. The first day followed, almost exclusively, what is called a tow path along the Kennet and Avon Canal. So it was relatively difficult to get lost, as long as we could see water. But the second and third days were to require turns at various interesting waypoints.
Throughout the English countryside, there are public footpaths that go for miles. In the US, we would find these types of routes mainly on public lands: through state and national parks, for example. But in England, they wind their way not only on public roads, but also through easements across private property. We crossed numerous fields of crops and pasture land, and even a golf course at one point. The easements aren t always a done deal. One rancher had run a new barbed wire fence across an easement without leaving a gate. But we took turns holding the wires apart so that we could squeeze through. And you do need to mind the nettles.
The instructions from the walking tour company were very complete. Our confidence that we would actually reach our destinations grew as we became familiar with the terminology used, and as we found each described point along the way. It was fun - and a sense of accomplishment - to find the actual object that indicated we were on the right path. We got pretty quick at crossing stiles and kissing gates. Stiles are kind of a ladder over a fence that lead from one field or path into another. Kissing gates are gate enclosures where you have to open the gate, then stand in a little opening to one side, then close the gate, then exit the opening. Kissing gates keep cattle and sheep on the proper side; stiles are just a way to cross a fence.
The route for each day advised us of where to find lunch at a pub along the way. That was a great way to meet some locals and chat a while before resuming our trek.
We were blessed with fantastic weather. On each day we encountered some drizzle, but on the second day we had some beautiful sunshine as well. On the third day, there was some pretty significant rain on the last stretch, which limited the number of Sue's photos and Bob's notes as we hurried to find the Talbot Inn. Bob used a poncho to cover the BrailleNote PK when it was raining.
The inns we stayed in were lovely. They were all historic buildings, unlike anything we would find in the US, at least not in the relatively newly settled West. The innkeepers were all kind and welcoming. We enjoyed our stays at each of them. At the Woolpack Inn in Beckington, we had a traditional English breakfast which includes Eggs, sausage, mushrooms, bacon, and black pudding. The black pudding is made from a mixture of pig s blood, oatmeal, and other ingredients which is then fried. We decided that the black pudding is something we wouldn t order every day.
Saturday, we left early and took a taxi back to Bath, were our journey started a few days ago. From there, we took a train to the London Paddington station, and then another train to Heathrow airport, and on to the next stop on our journey. Some of you know Mike Busboom, who lives in Vienna and has been in the AT business for many years. We have had the pleasure of Mike's company as he has stayed with us for 20 or so CSUN conferences, so we have finally taken him up on his offer to provide accommodations and tour guide services in Austria.
Sunday found us on a train trip to Melk, where we toured an old monastery and then boarded a boat for a delightful cruise on the Danube River. Mike knows the city so well, that we didn't need the GPS to find our many stops. But it was fun to use it to mark various points along the way. In the evening, having set Mike's front door as a User Point of Interest, we decided to venture out on our own. The city of Vienna has been nearly taken over by Euro 2008, the finals of a worldwide soccer (or football, as we are learning to call it) competition. We walked over to the park which has been transformed into the Fan Zone. In order to enter, we had to be very thoroughly searched for security. They opened our backpacks, patted us down, and scanned us with wands. There was some discussion about Sue's little container of Tylenol, but in the end, they decided we weren't a threat to security and let us in. Lots of music and food stands and people in funny hats, celebrating their teams' participation.
We decided it was a little too loud for the leisurely dinner we had anticipated, so we headed back to Mike's, looking for something along the way. There were many street closures because of the soccer match, and most nearby restaurants were closed. By the time we found one that was open, we were in a totally unfamiliar area. But the POI at Mike's door was like a beacon, and in a few minutes we were back to familiar territory, and were ringing his doorbell like we were Viennese locals.
It was fun to get completely lost in Vienna, and then to use GPS to locate our starting point. All of the street names end in either strasse, (which means larger street), or gasse, (which means smaller avenue or lane). The audible traffic signals are really neat, we will describe them in a later post.