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Getting half lost in the Somerset hills – my last big training walk before the monster on Saturday

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 23 July 2018

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…

So far we have raised heading towards £15,000 – so we are three quarters of the way there. If you have not donated please do so now HERE

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



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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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