Our first day can be summed up in one word... bridges!! We might have been going nowhere near Bridgwater today but these man-made constructions certainly dominated our walk.
We set off on a blustery, grey day, relieved that the torrential rain of the previous day had stopped but fully anticipating another downpour before too long.
Our first bridge of the day was the Old Town Bridge at Chepstow. Harri's parents kindly dropped us off and, had the weather been more spring-like, they were planning to walk with us for the first few miles out of Chepstow. The threat of rain put paid to that idea and so we waved goodbye to them at St Mary's Church (the wonderfully ornate west doorway dates from the late 11th century when Chepstow Castle was built).
The first few miles through Chepstow were familiar as we followed the Wales Coast Path (the signage is much better than when we walked this section in June 2011).
I'd been really worried about carrying a heavy rucksack for the first time but, whether I'm stronger than I realised or just packed wisely, the additional weight wasn't bothering me unduly.
I was childishly excited about crossing the Severn Bridge (the old bridge... pedestrians aren't allowed on the Second Severn Crossing). Building work started in May 1961, a month before I was born, and it opened in September 1966. There is a plaque on the English side which lists the names of the six men who were killed during the five-year construction period.
Half a century later, and with a second crossing just miles down the estuary, it's hard to imagine a time when people had to drive all the way Gloucester to cross the water or catch the ferry from Beachley (or perhaps travel underground via the Severn Tunnel).
It's only when you're actually walking over the bridge that you realise how peculiar its design is (and the reason it frequently closes in high winds). At the centre, the part most exposed to the elements, the road is raised several feet above the pedestrian walkways on either side. I'm sure there must have been a solid engineering reason for this seemingly illogical decision but it escapes me.
We reached the far side - and England - windblown and cold, but in high spirits. There's really nothing like setting out for a long-distance walk, even if it's only for a few days. It's the promise of the unknown... the lure of new places and experiences.
Severn Beach is usually a lovely little place but at low tide and with threateningly grey skies, it didn't look quite as pretty as I remembered (I have mixed feelings about the rich alluvium silt that's so much a characteristic of coastal places along the Severn Estuary). Still, the walking was easy and much flatter than we're accustomed to in Wales.
A few miles ahead loomed the Second Severn Crossing, which has an overall span of 3.186 miles and dwarfs the original. It's good to have a landmark in sight and for many hours this was ours; first, as we slowly approached the vast six-lane structure and later in the day when we'd turn around and use it as a way of gauging how far we'd walked.
Our next few bridges weren't quite as spectacular... we crossed the M49 motorway and then the M5 in quick succession during a long detour inland necessary to cross the River Avon. Then it was the 'big one' - we had to cross the motorway bridge (M5 again) over the river. We've done this before at the start of the River Avon Trail and it's such a high bridge that it feels a bit like being in a helicopter looking down on the housing below. Unlike the Severn Bridge, pedestrians and cyclists are completely separated from the busy (and very noisy) motorway lanes by a high barrier and the only vehicles you can see whizzing past are lorries and coaches.
We reached Portishead marina at about 6pm, the perfect time for a day's hiking to draw to a close. The whole area was once a busy dockland; however, like many coastal towns, where there was once industry and grime there are now pristine apartments and moorings for yachts.
Our feet were aching but we'd survived a 21 mile hike carrying heavy rucksacks. Just another four days to go...