On Saturday myself, Brokerman Dan and Lucian Miers, aka the rogue bloggers, will walk 32 miles from the infamous Horse Hill “Gatwick Gusher” oil well to Woodlarks, aiming to raise £20,000 for that amazing charity. Reminder – Woodlarks needs that cash to up its income from just £126,500 last year, to close its deficit and keep doing its amazing work providing holidays for handicapped folks who would otherwise get none. Yesterday was my last long training walk…
I set off at 5.30 AM from the start of the Bristol bath railway cycle path and in the early morning I made cracking progress. The track passes by a couple of rough looking estates and from one tower block I could hear neighbours having a rather heated exchange and threatening each other. That spurred me to walk a bit faster and I did have a few questions as to whether I should really have departed that early?
As some consolation the early hour meant that I saw both a fox on its own and a mother playing with two cubs. Growing up in the country I know that foxes are smelly , evil, murdering vermin but these urban specimens and their cubs did look rather sweet. Fear not I am not going soft, it is just that I was not “carrying” – I do know that the only good fox is a dead one.
As the light improved the foxes disappeared and were replaced by lycra clad cyclists and fat dogs being walked by even fatter owners. I made cracking progress and before 7.30 was at the converted station turned café where, when Lucian and I had walked this path, we had stopped so that he could have a bacon butty and a fag at 10 AM. Enjoying my first nutri-bar and drink I felt smug and ahead of schedule and was almost tempted to call Lucian and rose him from his slumber by telling him. Instead I pressed on and before eight thirty was at the steam railway station of Bitton for another drink and the rest of the first nutri-bar. Eight and a half miles in three hours – not too bad – with two short breaks.
Before ten I had turned off the path having done c11 miles and was on what was termed the Avon cycle-way to Chew in the Somerset hills. This was meant to be eleven miles too. But the signing was just utterly dreadful and as far as I can see the walk was entirely on roads. Within three miles I had lost the signs, if indeed they exist, and was just navigating village to village by instinct.
At three miles I saw a sign to Chewton. Rather foolishly I hope that the Chews were like Midsomer so that Chewton would be near Chew Magna or Chew lake. A chap said I was about eight miles from the lake. Great. I strode off fortified by another bit of nutri bar and more fluids, confident that I would beat the Mrs to our lunchtime booking at “Salt & Malt” by a good whack. Hmmm.
Two miles after Chewton came a village called something like Susan Dando where I asked about the lake which I was expecting to be just five and a bit miles away. “It’s a long way, at least ten miles” said a lady as she laughed. It was getting very hot and sunny and I was not laughing. The roads were up and down, rather too m any hills for my liking but I strode on, village to village.
The countryside was gorgeous. As my second and final nutri-bar disappeared I picked a few blackberries for comfort and by eleven thirty reached a roundabout which “I knew” was very close to the lake, the turning was just around the corner and in that vein I drank my last water. Natch, the lake was still miles away but I just kept walking and about 400 yards from the lake the Mrs and Joshua pulled up beside m e and gave me a lift for the final stretch.
Bar a bit of dehydration I was fine. Yes. My feet hurt but I coped with the hills fine and know I could easily have done another five or ten miles without collapsing. A few years ago when I was a twenty a day man my lungs would have been burning after just a few miles but today, even on the worst of hills, I am never breathless I might pant a bit as I hit the peak but that is it.
After that walk with Lucian a few weeks ago I was stiff as a board and headed pretty much to bed as soon as I could. Yesterday was just a normal day. Yes I hobbled a bit as my body stiffened up but I made supper, and worked a bit and just got on with it.
So I shall do two more short five mile walks on Tuesday and Thursday with Joshua and then it is the big one. I feel as ready as I will ever be.
To those who have already sponsored the rogue bloggers I say “thank you”. You are giving money to an amazing charity in Woodlarks. To those who have yet to donate I ask you please do so now HERE