Ride 55 (walk and lead): ‘Stay-Cool’ Tommy and the Cuthbert Connection

Monday, 3rd August, Kittisford to Halberton, 12 miles.

It’s absolutely out of the question!  Jo Cuthbert, who runs a cycle hire next to the Grand Western Canal at Greenway Bridge and our host for tonight, rung me yesterday to tell me she had spoken to the Canal Manager, Mark Baker, and mentioned that I was wanting to go down the canal tow path and was informed that horses are not allowed, under any circumstances, for fear it would set a precedent. Categorically. This puts pay to the plan Maurice and I had been hatching to get us down to Halberton without doing any road work for the day.  Not even pleading ignorance and the fact that I am not riding but walking and leading Tommy will wash.

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Before I leave Maurice’s place, I ask him if he can let Jo know, when he kindly drops off my kit, that because the farrier was able to get to me a little sooner than expected, I won’t be as late as expected there.

The walk today is pretty uneventful except for the fact that the hills are beginning to get noticeably steeper and there are more of them.  The rewards for such effort are of course the glorious views.

By a strange coincidence, Maurice turns up at the exact moment that we also arrive at Jo’s place.

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However, this throws Jo into a bit of a fluster because she wasn’t expecting us until later (not having got the message), and Maurice dumps my things on the yard before making a hasty retreat.  However, after a cup of tea and a chat, Jo soon settles down.  She is one of these people who gives the impression she is juggling many balls in the air at the same time and sometimes struggles to play catch up.  I am curious about the origins of her surname, Cuthbert, and discover – not surprisingly – she has many connections with Northumberland.

Here is Tommy installed in his ‘chilled’ stable.  (I don’t know what he’s been taking but his head looks decidedly fuzzy in the main picture above).

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On the way to collect some medicine from the clinic for her tree-surgeon son who is languishing at home with a couple of cracked ribs from a fall, she kindly suggests we check out the route to our next destination tomorrow (because she has already offered to drop our kit off for me) and after a delicious shepherds pie and a few glasses of wine, she deposits me down the road to stay the night at her daughter’s house in Sampford Peverell, collecting me the following morning before setting us on our way.  Thanks Jo, for all your help.  You are a star.

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