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The Morning Dew, the last-minute rain, my amazing neighbours & a snake – final report on the Woodlarks walk

Tom Winnifrith
Sunday 14 June 2020

With gift aid we are now just a few hundred quid shy of raising the £48,000 needed to ensure that amazing Woodlarks can survive the Covid lockdown and continue its work next year. So if you have donated I thank you and if not please do so HERE. It would be great to end the weekend with the job done. The Mrs and Darren combined to put up a few photos of yesterday’s 33.3 mile walk so here is the full story.

The alarm worked and by 4.40 I was at the start of the walk, a corner of the biggest field. I attached to a gatepost, a bag with an anorak, some snack bars and a bottle of home-made elderflower cordial, and set off.

My training has been done in the dry so having a hole in the corner of both walking boots has not been an issue. But in the morning dew it soon was but I marched on anyway keeping up a pace pf around 4 laps, each of 1,185 metres, an hour until 9. One of my neighbours whose house looks onto the top field, here in the last village in Wales, hopped over the fence and joined me for a lap which made a pleasant change. Talking to yourself is fine, no-one disagrees with you so you can say what you like and I thought my conversations with myself fairly interesting but after a few hours, I admit that there may be an element of repetition in my discourse.

At 9.15, 18 laps, the Mrs arrived with a flask of coffee and a bacon sandwich which was very pleasant. On my next lap there was a new pair of socks there, one of four changes on the day, and she helped me swap a heavy shirt into a light T-shirt. That and my Make America Great Again cap was to be my garb until lap 44.

The walk was delightful although 45 laps of the same circuit is a bit repetitious. The butterflies were everywhere, and it was a wonderful seeing them chasing each other at every turn. I spotted where blackberries will be ready to pick in a couple of months and the river, to my right for the first 400 yards and another 100-yard stetch later was flat as a pancake. As the temperature rose it looked more and more tempting.

In the morning stretch, a second neighbour, in his eighties joined me for a lap and my daughter did a few as well while the Mrs popped out with new flasks of elderflower cordial to keep me from dehydrating. By lunch, eaten with my family, at 12.30 I was at 27, or was it 28, laps, almost two thirds done. I started to believe that this was doable.

But notwithstanding a few more laps with my daughter and one more with my eighty year old neighbour, the pace was slowing. At least my daughter brought variety as we got towards the end of the first river stretch. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH, she screamed: DADDY DIDN’T YOU SEE IT? Er what, I was just looking at the ground straight ahead marching on trying not to think about the pain in my feet and lower legs.

It was a snake. My daughter has now looked on the interweb and things it was an adder but might just have been a slow worm. I was not going to rush into the long grass into which it had slithered to investigate.

My friend Mark Slater had suggested that we should keep folks off our fields by putting up a big sign saying “Beware of the adders”. I actually like folks in the village using the fields as long as dogs are kept on leads so as not to chase our cats and dog pooh is cleared up, but I guess we will have to let folks that there is now an added reason to keep dogs on leads.

My daughter was with me for the last four laps and we made good time encouraged by the lovely couple at the end of the far field who would applaud me as I went buy. In lap 43 I even started jogging up the hill that runs next to the graveyard as I could sense that the end was nigh. But then the heavens opened. I grabbed my anorak, my daughter fled indoors. I marched through the rain, just because it felt like it was turning to hail nothing was going to stop me. The lovely couple sheltered in a shed but inched out to applaud me and by the end of that penultimate lap the rain had stopped. The family joined me and we ambled round one last time. Suggestions that Joshua might outpace me at this point were more or less justified, but we made it towards the line together. More applause from the supportive neighbours and I reached the line.

At this point it was sunny. Both cats joined us as we opened, and polished off, a bottle of prosecco. This walking is thirsty work and it was a good humoured family picnic in the sun.

By the time I managed to stand up and walk very slowly through the yard and into the Welsh Hovel, I was rather smelly and in real pain. A long hot shower solved only the smells. The Mrs cooked a great supper, but I could not wait for bed at which point I started shivering. I cant think why but pretty soon I was out for the count. Apparently, there was thunder and lightening for much of the night. I was unaware of it all.

Thanks again for all of your kind messages ands for the donations. As the pain in my legs mounted it was the thought of those messages and the money pledged which helped keep me going.

If you have yet to donate, we need just £536.34 (including gift aid) to raise the amount Woodlarks needs to survive so if you can chip in a few quid please do so 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.
[email protected]
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