Having planned the route, arranging accommodation in the right places is all-important, as every mile off route is potentially two miles further to walk! Add to this the desire to coincide my walking with the opening times of breweries and distilleries, where possible, and quite a complex picture presents. Arranging suitable accommodation in the right location, on a self-planned trek, is never straight-forward, and the combination of greater demand in anticipation of the upcoming relaxation in lockdown restrictions, as well as some B&Bs and pubs being slow to re-open, is making for a more demanding task than I envisaged.
On previous treks I have often booked overnight stops a day or two ahead, when I have seen the weather report and assessed how I am feeling. This approach won’t work in our current situation, so I have had to book overnights earlier, and further into the walk, than I had anticipated. So now the whole of my first week’s accommodation, through Cornwall, and into Devon and Somerset the following week, is arranged. When I get to Bridgwater I will be joined for two nights in an Airbnb apartment by my wife and family (with appropriate transfers for my two days’ onward walk to Cheddar and thence to Bath). We will then all make for Cardiff for two nights, and a whole day’s rest and recuperation for me! Further ahead I have a brief trip home for two nights, from Birmingham, then other friends to walk with for several days up into the Derbyshire Dales and the Peak District. I dare not think much further ahead than that at this time, but I do envisage one of my rolling tasks in the evenings on trek will be messaging and phoning ahead for overnight accommodation.
Booking brewery visits has also been harder to arrange than I had envisioned, as some brewers are not yet fully up and running again post-lockdown. Having experienced their trade, one can only feel for the businesses concerned in trying to organise their way out of the pandemic restrictions and in re-building their customer base. The brewing business, though, is a sociable one, and I’ve already had a number of interesting discussions with those who are ready to receive a thirsty visitor – I look forward to the conversation and camaraderie with these most interesting of folk along my LETJOG journey!