82 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
Having got my sums wrong (again), I was delighted when, at last, the viaduct which takes the Bitton railway over the river Avon, came into sight. I was still six minutes ahead of the schedule I had set myself and so, if my new sums were right, would reach the finishing line, the pub at Hanham Weir, shortly before the Mrs and Joshua arrived at two thirty. So I walked down from the railway line towards the path by the river. Uh Oh...thick squelchy mud, I couldn'r go over it, I could go round it I had to go through it. Squelch, squerch, Apologies to the Bear Hunt for that.
The first photo is of looking up at the viaduct. The second is of the Fry's chocolate factory at Keynsham and the last is of the pub, the finishing line. What I had not calculated for was the mud which was everywhere. Twice I almost slipped and fell into it, somehow rebalancing and avoiding a wet bottom. But it was a sapping last few miles and I was jolly glad to reach the finishing line about ten minutes after the arrival of the Mrs.
My trousers were caked with mud as were my boots. as i opened my kagool the wind blew onto a sweatshirt soaked in sweat and suddenly I felt very cold. Heading out in that weather when I had a chest cold already was not the smartest move but I am determined that this year, on May 25, I will not hold Lucian, Dan and the other merry band of rogue bloggers back as we walk 33 miles for Woodlarks. So I am training very seriously indeed.
Woodlarks needs your support. I was not the only rogue blogger out walking this weekend. Please make a donation HERE
91 days ago
On May 25 I shall again join the rogue bloggers (now a band of 8) walking 33 miles from Horse Hill to Woodlarks to raise money for this amazing charity. Serious training started today with a 12 mile walk from my front door to the Swan at Swineford with a slight detour to the cashpoint machine in my local high street. Evidence of the second half of that trek is below.
You left me just after the half way mark at Hanhan Weir. From there the track headed through fields alongside the River Avon up to Keynsham and it was not really muddy at all and utterly nettle free. It was a breeze. The lock at Keynsham is, I think, the deepest of this entire waterway but I did not tarry as the Mrs had called to say that Joshua was recovering from his earlier temperature and that they would join me at my journey's end.
Thus I headed on past Keynsham, stopping briefly to admire a fisherman land a young pike as you can see below. By two thirty the Swan at Swineford came into sight. My feet and legs really don't feel bad at all and i am pretty sure that I could have done twenty miles or more without struggling which, with three months to the big walk, is good news indeed. Next weekend I must seek out a fifteen or sixteen mile route to tackle.
As I start to crank up the training, I ask you to consider making a small donation to Woodlarks and supporting all eight rogue bloggers (I am not the only one training this weekend) HERE
91 days ago
On May 25 I shall again join the rogue bloggers ( now at 8) walking 33 miles from Horse Hill to Woodlarks to raise money for this amazing charity. Serious training started today with a 12 mile walk from my front door to the Swan at Swineford with a slight detour to the cashpoint machine in my local high street.
I am now just over half way and have stopped for a coffee break. From memory we have a short break at c8 miles on the real walk so this is not unfair. Below you can see, firstly, where I hit the river Avon. And then the Weir at Hanham where I am now. Actually the weir is almost invisible, the Avon is swollen by rain and the water is high.
I can tell I need to crank up the training but must now crack on as the path up to Keynsham, my next stop, gets more overgrown and muddy. As you think of me pushing on in the mud and nettles, I ask you to consider making a small donation to Woodlarks and supporting all eight rogue bloggers (I am not the only one training this weekend) HERE
292 days ago
The photos below may suggest that Social Services should be called regarding young Joshua. The truth is blackberries. Whenever we walk and he spots one we are off. On the way home from nursery there is an enormous bush on the side path we take. This snap is after a six mile walk on Sunday along the river Avon. hand over five or six blackberries and he does not devour one at a time but just pushes the whole lot towards his mouth and stuffs them in. Then almost at one there is a cry of "More blackberries Daddy! Daddy Blackberries Yes" which is repeated until a fresh source above the dog wee line is located.
341 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
It started well. I had planned a route from the Conham River Car Park on the outskirts of Bristol, along the Avon to Bath. The signs said it was 14 miles. What could be more pleasant?
The first two and a half miles, to the Chequers Pub at Hanham Lock is my normal training base for my five miles during the week walks. The path is clearly defined and even at 8.30 you meet a constant stream of joggers (often shapely lycra clad young ladies), cyclists (invariably lycra clad men who could do with losing a few pounds) and stacks of folks walking their dogs. There is a rather glamorous older lady on a horse who I meet now and again.
Joy of joys, I saw a Kingfisher for the first time in the wild. What a glorious sight as it took flight. I rather assumed that the whole walk would be like this. It was not.
Shortly after Hanham the path rather disappeared and I found myself walking through fields. Sometimes patterns in the grass suggested there was a path somewhere, often there were no patterns. At the edge of each field a metal kissing gate gave me renewed hope that I was on the right track.
I ploughed on, making reasonable time but at the village of Swineford the track stopped altogether and I found myself staring at a road and a not yet open pub, the Swan. I could see no sign so wandered along the road towards Bath for a third of a mile and finding nothing wandered back again. I met a man and asked directions. I retraced my steps heading back along the road towards Bath as instructed. After about a mile there was a footpath market down towards the river.
I took the path but by the time I got to the village of Kelston I had my hands above my head as I pushed through deep nettles. I do not wish to sound like some angry townie rambler but, well, I was an angry townie rambler at that point. Cut back your fecking nettles Kelston. Wandering through Kelston I met other walkers: a young man who, like me. had a back pack and who overtook me and than raced on ahead and then four folks who looked to be about sixty who I overtook! Hooray. That was a first and I had nine miles under my belt already at that point. I paced on, conscious that the skies were darkening.
It was at this point that not looking in more detail at the route proved my downfall, for I should have crossed the river. I did not. As I continued, I noticed that the paths had disappeared altogether, that there were no walkers and that I was walking through fields packed with cows who seemed not entirely familiar with ramblers. The terrain got tougher and tougher. There were no paths. No kissing gates just rusty old farmers gates to mount but I convinced myself that keeping the river to my right would get me to Bath.
Eventually I reached a field with only one exit. I had to jump a stream, clamber over an old rusty gate that cannot have been used in decades and I found myself in field with grass up to my chest. As I wandered through it, I saw big red signs at the end “Private land No Entrance, Ramblers and working Class People will be shot!”. Okay I made the last bit up but I recognised the game was up and seeing an exit at the top of the field I started to climb a track that cannot be used more than once a month.
It was a hard old, very steep, climb of 400 yards or so which left me breathless but at the end I was at a road and I headed right towards Bath. The views overlooking the river valley far below were spectacular and pretty soon I reached the outskirts of Bath. I walked almost to the Centre where the Mrs met me with her motor.
Thanks to getting lost twice and my unusual route I easily managed fifteen miles. I really did worry at one stage that I was completely lost and that there would be no way out other than swimming the river. I have no blisters to report which is good. I know that as an ex smoker a few years ago I’d have been gasping for breath but my lungs seemed fine. In that department I could carry on all day. My feet and legs were fine at the end and I am fairly confident that I could have carried on at my 3mph pace for another couple of hours or so, without collapsing but by the time I got home they were sore and seizing up. So all the articles I planned as I marched past the cows must be postponed. It was straight to bed where I slept like a log.
On balance, I have learned a valuable lesson about reading maps more carefully but I take heart from my stamina and so plan a 20 mile walk this weekend coming up.
This is all in preparation for my 32 mile walk on July 28 with fellow financial journalist Brokerman Dan who, I suspect, is already doing twenty mile walks without breaking a sweat. He is a smug bastard! So far we have raised £7,639.16 ( or just over £9,000 with gift aid). As you laugh at the idea of me scrambling up a steep slopes through grass tall enough to get me panicking about snakes; as you consider the pain of my legs stiffening yesterday and ponder me staring carefully at each cow I approached to make sure that it was not a bull, I am sure you can donate a tenner to a great cause. Please do so HERE.
347 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
I see that Brokerman Dan, who will be walking 32 miles for Woodlarks with me on July 28, has tweeted about completing a 15 mile training walk. In the smug looking selfie that accompanied the tweet the old bastard looks fresh as a daisy, as if he had just strolled to and from the local corner store. If only it were that way for me.
On Saturday or Sunday I shall be doing my weekend long walk. Last Saturday I managed ten miles. The target this weekend is 12-14 miles along the River Avon starting at bath and heading West. Do I stop at the Chequers pub ( 11.5 miles) or can I make it to the Conham River car park (14 miles) and get the Mrs to take me back to the pub by car? Decisions, decisions.
Pro tem it is back to five miles every other day – my weekday training. Yesterday saw me do just over 3.5 miles in an hour on a constant uphill gradient of between 4 and 7 ( whatever that means) at the local gym run by Perry the Tory here in Brislington, Bristol. The body builders who are the gym’s other clients did not giggle but at the end I was sweaty and smelly but not actually that breathless and easily able to walk straight to Joshua’s nursery and wheel him home. That involves a couple of steep hills as well so a good five miles in all and lots of hill work.
I worry that the Woodlarks walk has a lot of hills along the way.
I am not sure that the girls who look after Joshua at his nursery were that impressed by his sweaty and smelly dad. I tried to mumble something about training and a 32 mile walk but decided quickly that the best thing to do was to get him out of there as soon as possible with a promise that we could go visit the snakes and rabbits at Pets at Home over the way.
Today is a day off although I shall do the one and a half mile walk to pick Joshua up just to keep my hand in so to speak. Instead I have sent a few emails to encourage folks to make their donations. After about three weeks of fund raising Dan and I have raised £5718.16 ( with gift aid that is £6,815.210). That is 28% of our £20,000 (without gift aid) target so not bad.
But most of you reading this article have not yet pledged. To those that have I am grateful and will not let you – or myself – down. To those that have not, I am sure that you can spare a tenner. Go on, think of me trying to explain away how smelly I was to Joshua’s carers, think of the muscle men laughing at me, think of my humiliation, laugh and donate a tenner HERE
350 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
My Woodlarks charity walk training plan for today was simple. My training path is the 2.5 miles path along the River Avon between Conham Hill car park and the Chequer's pub. It is a splendid walk which on Tuesday I did alone both ways (5 miles) and on Thursday I also did both ways but with Joshua in his buggy. Joshua and I saw ducks, swans, a train on the hill, all sorts of boats, a heron, blossom, a horse, it was great fun.
Today I planned the five mile round circuit at which point cousin Johnny, a godfather to Joshua, would join us for a walk to the pub so leaving me having done a straight 7.5 miles. But Johnny arrived in his car and thus post lunch we had to walk another 2.5 miles back to that car so he could speed back to our house to dump it before heading off to the airport. Being a junior doctor he has vast amounts of time and money for endless holidays.
So thanks to Johnny my training walk today totalled 10 miles which is a bit more than i was expecting. I am feeling rather stiff. But with 49 days left to the 32 mile walk for Woodlarks I am feeling more confident about my ability to complete that trek on the day.
Brokerman Dan and I have now raised 28% of our £20,000 target for this great charity in just over a fortnight. If you have donated already I say thanks. If not think of my aching feet tonight and, I am sure you can spare a tenner to donate HERE