Daily Kilometres: 28.3 (40.6 TT less 12.3 saved by short-cutting Bracknell, an option suggested in guidebook)
Total TT Kilometres: 351.6
Weather: Cold at first, then mild and partly sunny with strong winds in the afternoon.
Breakfast: Trail Mix
Lunch: Trail Mix
Dinner: Soup and rehydrated meal
Aches: Feet sore, but not as bad as other days.
Highlight: It was nice to finally leave the road and follow an old eroded track down off the Central Plateau. The going was slow, but it was through beautiful forest and fern gullies, and even passed a large cave, before finally emerging into farmland.
The ground was hard on the firetrail where I was camped, but at least there were no rocks sticking up in awkward spots and I slept OK, if fitfully. I was on the road at 7:30am and eagerly anticipating reaching the point 4km on where I would leave the road and join an old track. I wasn't disappointed, and although the track was eroded and covered in loose rock, I enjoyed the peace and forest as I descended from the plateau.
At the bottom, I emerged into very green sheep and cattle pastures and followed quiet rural back roads for the remainder of the day, with the high bluffs of the central plateau's edge to the west and south.
As the afternoon progressed, the wind became stronger, and I was reminded of the Australian Championship Marathon I ran about 40 years ago as part of the Victorian team at nearby Cressy. The wind was brutal and the field became a long snake as runners tried to shelter behind each other. The other thing I remember about that race is that I didn't run very well.
The official TT route went through the small village of Bracknell (where there is a store) but there was a short-cut to Liffey, my goal for the day, that was recommended in the TT guidebook if a store was not needed, and I took that. The TT campsite is in the grounds of the old Liffey School, and I reached there at 3:30pm. It is a lovely spot on the side of a hill with good views, but it's very exposed to a cold wind that is blasting through as I write this. It could be an early night.
I now have about 33km to Deloraine, where I will be staying the next two nights, using a revised TT route which has apparently been devised to avoid private land where the landowner no longer lets TT walkers/bikers pass. Deloraine is not on the actual TT, which sort of skirts around it, but I have decided to stay there, and have time for a day off.