Saturday 17th June, Devizes to Burghfield (Reading) National Route Four

I awoke this morning at the Castle Hotel to telltale sloshing sounds on the road outside. A short, sharp shower had broken the heat of the previous day. We left on time at 09:30hrs after quick chain cleaning and re-lubing. Bill’s missing cleat bolt had been solved by the time I dragged my luggage down the ‘Battle bus.’

The temperature had been reduced from yesterday’s high seventies to a cooling seventy-ish. Pleasant rolling country roads to Pewsey, where we stopped for tea. Then on to Wooten Bassett, Crofton, Great Bedwyn and lunch in Hungerford.

A small off-road section was added for extra entertainment when we went off course between Pewsey and Crofton. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Multiple orders of fish finger sandwiches were the favourite today.

After lunch in Hungerford easterly towards Newbury, with yet more entertainment of missing Sustran blue signs caused by overgrown bushes, weather fading and just plain missing!

Thankfully we found our way and eventually descended to canal side level around six miles west of Newbury. The tow path is now in a poor state. It’s overgrown and narrow, presumably the lock down caused a lack of maintenance, so we’re all nursing bramble cuts to arms and legs.

Newbury was busy being a Saturday and so we spent as little time there as possible. We spent however more time in Thatcham when our leader didn’t make the railway crossing gates in time!

After another four or so miles a stop was made at Woolhampton for refreshments before the final push for Reading.

We said ‘Hello’ to a passing family whilst Dave Rapson put a little more air in the front tyre of a suspected slow one.

The final few miles to Burghfield were uneventful, although the tow path was more overgrown for this time of year than I’d ever seen it before. Upon arrival at the digs Denis was waiting, and Digger Dave had turned up. After a wash and brush up we all headed down to the Cunning Man pub for the final night’s meal.

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