Day 7 – Gournay en Bray to Neufchatel en Bray

by Stephen

I’d tried to plan a rest day into my route but unfortunately the distances and the time I had allowed did not make this possible.

The distance between towns today is thirty miles which would have been impossible walking in this mornings storms.  Fortunately the owner of my hotel was heading out and he dropped me off at a local village and for my normal walking distance.  I know little about him, as we didn’t talk much, other than he makes good pear jam which I ate for breakfast, likes Dina Carroll and has a far better moustache than I.

We shook hands and he wished me a good journey as I set out on my final mileage to Neufchatel. He didn’t quite understand what I was doing as kept asking where my suitcase was and he was convinced I had forgotten it and that I didn’t understand what he meant.

A little road walking again today but most of my journey has been along the well laid Avenue Verte.  Hard on the feet but dryer than the grass verges.

It rained most of my journey and I was forced to shelter under sparsely leafed trees for the worst of it.

I knew I would get wet and uncomfortable again today but last night and this morning I went through all those little kit preparations of drying and waxing clothing and taping feet.  I’m not from a military background but these little routines, and maybe my military friends who are reading this will agree, psychologically prepare you for the walk ahead even if the physical preparations unwind in the first few hours (especially in wool and old kit). Getting wet and walking I can deal with but starting in wet clothes is a killer.

It was a very strange experience walking in my cape looking down at the reflection in the glass like water on tarmac. It felt like I was looking at someone else.


One thing I have noticed on my journey so far is how most gardens have vegetable and fruit patches and even fruit trees where they’ll fit. It’s as if everyone grows their own where they can; and so they should. However few had picked the sloes off the blackthorn bushes. Sloe Gin clearly isn’t as popular. In places the Avenue Verte was lined with well kept raspberry bushes and also medlars. I had a few of the last Autumn raspberries, very good.

I am so impressed with my boots. They are far more comfortable than I was expecting and dried well overnight. The path meant that despite the rain my feet stayed dry. The cooler weather today also meant I could wear my coat, cape and hat comfortably which makes the distribution of weight easier to manage and allows me to set a faster pace.

Again it took me a while to get into my hotel, they keep locking me out. I’ve bought tomorrow’s food supply and paid my room bill as I will be leaving well before sunrise to ensure I am in time to meet the pipers at Saint-Vaast-d-Equiqueville at 10.00. I will need to walk quickly in the afternoon if I want to make my ferry but I can’t wait to be home. I am very tired now and want to be in front of my log fire with my wife.



Ps This is how I feel today