Fortunately, we were a bit better in the morning and the excellent kippers helped! I stuck plasters all over my toes and we stopped off at the chemist's for a support bandage for Martyn's knee and some anti-inflammatory tablets. It was the only place we saw with any open shops, so the timing was perfect. This was to be our longest day - 16 miles - so we needed all the help we could get. It wasn't an especially picturesque walk but it was more comfortable, as sections of the path had been harrowed and were much softer underfoot. An interesting visual diversion was seen on the walls of the bridge over the A34 - see photos right. This stretch of the walk is very sparsely populated with no convenient places to detour for a break, so Martyn had arranged for a friend to pick us up and give us a lift to a pub for lunch, which was just as well as the water tap wasn't connected to the water supply and so we'd have gone rather thirsty.
So at exactly the appointed hour, we all arrived at the West Ilsley turn off and made our way to The Harrow where we had a lovely lunch -and a lift back to the Ridgeway. The afternoon was uneventful and we were glad of the softer ground. Our accommodation for the night was in Letcombe Regis, in the Old Vicarage, situated just over a mile from the path - down a 1 in 10 hill. Our B&B was lovely, a very comfortable room in a beautiful house - right opposite the pub. After walking 16.1 miles, we were grateful we didn't have too far to walk in the evening. We met friends there for dinner, so all in all, it was a very sociable day and not as difficult as the day before.
Day 6: Letcome Regis to Bishopstone - 12.1 miles
We had a leisurely breakfast in the lovely dining room feeling rather reluctant to leave such a lovely house, especially as my feet were still quite sore. But we were glad of the lift back up the hill. We had a fair bit of rain, which did detract from the views over Uffington Castle and the White Horse, the oldest of the many white horses in the area. So we just admired the horse up close rather than walking down for a complete view. There wasn't anywhere on the route for lunch, so we had a picnic with us, but it was impossible to find anywhere dry to sit. The best we could manage was a stile, where we had a hurried rest and ate our food. We struggled into our waterproof trousers, which was a good move as the rain disappeared 10 minutes later. The highlight of the day was a visit to Waylands Smithy, an old longbarrow with an interesting legend attached to it.
And descending into Bishopstone for our overnight stay, we passed a pig farm and watched the piglets charging around. What a pretty village it is, with a big duck pond. We found our B&B, Cheney Thatch, a lovely 400 year old cottage in pretty gardens shared with the ducks. Our hostess, Mrs Boot, is a real character - from such material, sitcoms are written! We had tea and cake and then met another couple who were walking the same route. That evening we ate at the True Heart pub, the landlord of which takes the prize as being the friendliest we met during the week. And the food was good too.