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Posts Tagged ‘walking in the uk’

After a number of overcast, wintry days, yesterday dawned bright and sunny and no frost… Perfect for an adventure. Our neighbour loaned me his map of the Montgomery area showing various walks (yellow publications), and suggested a local walk that would take in a section of Offa’s Dyke; (Offa, the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia from 757 until his death in July 796 – had a great dyke built between Wales and Mercia from sea to sea). This border between Wales and England was built to prevent the Welsh from infiltrating the country. Not sure why they thought it was a good idea, but on closer research it may well have been a defensive wall.

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can’t complain about that view

Kitted out with shoes and poles I set off with determination. To reach the section where I planned to walk was a fair trot from the village and my initial terrain was a good solid tarmac road. The route goes through Lymore Park and farmland. All went well, I passed the Lower Pond and a farm, crossing multiple cattle grids and eventually reached the border between Montgomeryshire and Shropshire where I encountered #4 cattle grid (urgh, they are horrible to walk across), and a field of dozy sheep. They are such silly creatures.

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dozy sheep. Offa’s Dyke path

Starting off along the path, I was sceptical as to how good an idea this was going to be…the path was a slushy, muddy morass…mostly churned up by previous walkers and a few horses, and I considered retracing my steps and leaving it for another day. But my philosophy in life is: do it while you are here, it may be the only opportunity you have.

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along the dyke….the walking was not pleasant…although the scenery was lovely

So with that in mind, I started walking along the path… Mud, mud not so glorious mud. Slushy, mushy, slimy, grimy mud. The first 3 sections were just bloody awful and I spent a lot of time trying to find stable spots to place my shoes without slipping or getting too dirty. Sloshing through craftily hidden pooled water, standing on tussocks that were not as stable as they looked, slipping and sliding as I attempted to get from one spot to another and accompanied with lots of laughter, cussing and wtf am I doing, I later forded a small rushing stream; a very tricky section that was a sheer, unadulterated quagmire. Creeping gingerly beneath overhanging branches, my poles planted firmly before advancing, I made it safely and relatively dry, albeit a tad more muddy, across the wee bridge, but after walking some distance further I realised /discovered I’d gone off course, so had to back-track and ford the stream once again. OMG!! Seriously.

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this is where I went wrong…

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going back….fording a stream…the ground on the other side of the stile was a quagmire

I didn’t escape unscathed this time around. After crossing back over the bridge and stile, I surveyed the immediate terrain and spotted what looked like a stable spot. Alas it was not so…instead, as I trod down my foot sank ankle deep into mud that sucked at my shoe, reluctant to let it go 😱😱  After a bit of a tussle, hanging onto my walking poles for dear life trying to stay upright, I won….The mud finally released my shoe with a sucky slurk. However my shoe was now completely covered in thick mucky mud.

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I won the tussle 🙂

Onwards…. I found the track once again (thank you mapmywalk), and from thereon the terrain was fairly stable and a lot less muddy albeit still churned up in places..and those hidden pools. Sigh.

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Offa’s Dyke as I thought it would be….how gorgeous is that stream

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Offa’s Dyke; now that’s more like it

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Offa’s Dyke – a long distance walk on the border between England and Wales

6.53 kms and 1.55 hours later and my shoes and walking pants were in the washing machine. 🤔🤔🤔🤔 That was a quite insane walk.

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map my walk

Well worth it though, the countryside here is astoundingly beautiful. As with most of the UK, Wales and the bordering English county of Shropshire are stunning. Much of the land here is given over to farming and raising sheep or horses. Dotted across green fields are huge trees, now bereft of their summer greenery, but nonetheless absolutely stunning. I actually prefer to see trees without their leaves; far more interesting.

And as weird and exhausting as it was, I felt it was good practice for any UK walks I have planned… It rains a lot in this country (duh!! who’d have guessed?) and there’s no way I’ll enjoy the kind of weather I had in Portugal and Spain in September 2017.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

I loved walking alongside the ocean. I stopped off in this area to rest and just enjoy the scenery

It’s given me pause for thought in terms of my shoes. I may/will have to invest in something more hardy. I was just glad I didn’t have my backpack on when my shoe got stuck in the mud… That could have caused a different outcome in my tussle for possession. and once again I had occasion to be thankful for my walking poles. Truly, I will never walk any long distances without them ever again. They have saved my ass so many times; on the Camino and certainly on the many walks I have undertaken in the UK; my Canterbury Tales & Way of St Augustine

More about Offa’s Dyke: ref wikipedia

Offa’s Dyke (Welsh: Clawdd Offa) is a large linear earthwork that roughly follows the current border between England and Wales. The structure is named after Offa, the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia from AD 757 until 796, who is traditionally believed to have ordered its construction. Although its precise original purpose is debated, it delineated the border between Anglian Mercia and the Welsh kingdom of Powys.

The Dyke, which was up to 65 feet (20 m) wide (including its flanking ditch) and 8 feet (2.4 m) high, traversed low ground, hills and rivers. Today the earthwork is protected as a scheduled monument. Some of its route is followed by the Offa’s Dyke Path; a 176-mile (283 km) long-distance footpath that runs between Liverpool Bay in the north and the Severn Estuary in the south.

scheduled monument is a “nationally important” archaeological site or historic building, given protection against unauthorised change.

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So excited to be part of this fantastic challenge #walk1000miles 2017

It’s literally changed, improved and saved lives, and taken people of all ages, from toddlers to oldies, from all walks of life, in all manner of situations, out and about; in cities, towns, villages, hamlets and the countryside, to and from and in all parts of the world – whether it’s 500 or 5,000 the members have risen to the challenge and gone walking 🙂

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….one foot in front of the other…

Join us along with Country Walking for 2018 and walk 1,000 miles or maybe even 5,000 – yes, some people have walked in excess of 5,000 miles this year. Awesome 🙂

Walk 1000 miles in 2018 from Country Walking on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/245014566

 

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On the eve of my impending journey to my next assignment, this time in Lancashire I decided to write and update on My Camino and the journey so far. You may recall I wrote a post a short while ago about ‘doing’ the Camino my way. Well ‘doing’ it correctly is clearly advisable, so in order to gain some insights I joined two Camino groups on Facebook (I have since joined another). I have gleaned so much by way of interesting and useful hints and tips as well as safety advice that I am beginning to feel a little more ‘prepared’ than I was when I first started to lay my plans. Of course one of the most important aspects of walking the Camino is being at least relatively fit…a fact attested to by many of the walkers in the group. Feet appear to be the worst hit!

camino 2016; the journey so far

My Camino; the journey so far

One evening in May this year, my daughter and I took a walk from Broadstairs to Joss Bay; something we do quite frequently…go for long walks, that is. When we got back home, I suddenly realised that this is what I could do as part of my training.

We often walk to Ramsgate and since I walk a lot anyway this seemed an ideal way to up my distances and improve my fitness…..in order to keep track of my progress, I downloaded a fantastic little app called MapMyWalk that tells me how far I’ve walked each day, how long it’s taken me and what my pace is per km…I immediately started using it…..this is my journey so far! The app gives you a lot more info but those are the 3 items I’m most interested in.

Since starting these walks, I’ve learned quite a lot about myself.

1. I am far more durable than I though. A bit like the Energizer bunny I just…

my camino; the journey so far

…keep going

2. I’m way more resilient than I thought. 319.11 km’s walked so far

3. I can endure walking in the rain!!! LOL

my camino; the journey so far

not too much singing going on…but I did walk in the rain LOL

 

4. I can walk wayyyy further than I have since I was in my 20’s. Sandwich 28.54 kms

and

5. I’ve confirmed that I really do enjoy my own company.

my camino; the journey so far

not a soul in sight…

Just walking, not responsible for anyone except yourself, gives you a sense of freedom. I’ve always enjoyed my own company and seldom get lonely. But walking on your own for 185 miles through a foreign country is a far cry from holing up at home with a good book, or spending a week away on my own, so we shall see. I do believe however that the route/s always has people walking or residents of the hamlets and towns along the way…so if I need company, I’m sure I’ll find it.

I haven’t had any of the lightning-bolt epiphanies that people say they experience when walk long distances on their own, but I have learned that in my 60’s I am still very much happy to walk and walk and walk, and talk to myself. I call it ‘doing a Forrest Gump!! I have some very interesting conversations. I also tend to rant a lot, which wouldn’t surprise my daughter in the least! LOL

I can’t share any spiritual or emotional insights so far, but that may well still happen when I do walk the actual Camino…..in the meantime this is my physical journey. The one day that impressed me the most was the day I walked to Sandwich!

Day 1 : 19/05/2016 Broadstairs to Joss Bay – I’m not sure how far I walked this day as it was pre mapmywalk, but its been really interesting since then to see my stats.

my camino so far

Day 1. 19.05.2016 the day it all started

Although I haven’t walked on consecutive days, I have walked whenever opportunity arose

Day 2 : 22/05/16 : Broadstairs to Royal Esplanade Ramsgate and back : Walked 12.38 km  -2 hours 59 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 2. 22.05.2016 Ramsgate Royal Esplanade

By day three I was really keen to stretch myself a little bit so undertook a marathon:

Day 3 : 23/05/16 Broadstairs to Margate and back : Walked 17.94 km – 4 hours 5 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 3. 23.05.2016 Margate

As you can imagine after that walk!!!! I needed to rest for a day LOL  Then it was off to London for work and a new environment in which to stretch my legs 🙂

Day 4 : 26/05/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston and back : Walked 7.37 km – 1 hour 32 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 4. 26.05.2016 Kingston

Day 5 : 27/05/16 Thames Ditton to East Moseley and back : Walked 6.73 km – 1 hour 19 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 5. 27.05.2016 East Moseley

Day 6 : 28/05/16 Thames Ditton; circular walk : Walked 2.24 km – 25 minutes

Day 6 : 28/05/16 Thames Ditton to Canbury Gardens, Kingston Upon Thames : Walked 7.64 km – 1 hour 33 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 6. 28.05.2016 Canbury Gardens

Working so near to Hampton Court Palace was tantalising so I asked for an extended break

Day 7 : 29/05/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston then to Hampton Court Palace and back : Walked 11.59 km – 2 hours 42 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 7. 29.05.2016 Hampton Court Palace

On the 31st May my gear arrived!!! 🙂 I was so excited to be unpacking just some of the items I would need so I could start trying them out. However, with testing various items in the meanwhile, I have in fact discovered that there is much I actually wouldn’t need

my camino; the journey so far

Clearly I am a fan of Mountain Warehouse 🙂

While working, my breaks are usually two hours and I found I could easily fit in a walk to Kingston and back. Although it was very hot over that period, which I found most unpleasant, I really enjoyed the walks; such a lovely part of the river.

Day 8 : 31/05/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames, Canbury Gardens and back : Walked 8.19 km – 1 hour 43 minutes

Day 9 : 01/06/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames, Canbury Gardens and back : Walked 7.81 km – 1 hour 45 minutes

Day 10 : 02/06/16 Thames Ditton; circular walk : Walked 3.93 km – 48 minutes

Day 11 : 03/06/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames and back : Walked 8.38 km – 1 hour 44 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Scenes from my Thames Ditton to Kingston walks

Day 12 : 04/06/16 Thames Ditton circular walk : Walked 3.43 km – 46 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 12. 04.06.2016 Thames Ditton circular walk – stopping to smell the roses

I was keen to make a 2nd attempt at a walk along the Thames riverbank to Hampton Court Palace, so one day I took myself off. I love the palace so it was a treat to visit, albeit briefly.

Day 13 : 05/06/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames then to Hampton Court Palace and back : Walked 10.90 km – 2 hours 53 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 13. 05.06.2016 Hampton Court – it was very hot this day..I rested in some shade

Day 14 : 06/06/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames, Canbury Gardens and back : Walked 8.72 km – 1 hour 56 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Friends – I’m sure I will make new friends on the Camino in time

Once I got home to Broadstairs after that assignment, I got right back into walking to Ramsgate and back, which I find is a good stretch without being too exerting.

Day 15 : 08/06/16 Broadstairs to Ramsgate and back : Walked 7.43 km – 1 hour 24 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 15. 08.06.2016 Ramsgate

I was keen to see if I could manage another walk to Margate and to my surprise found it much easier the 2nd time….I even walked right around the bay….When I left home it was overcast and gloomy, by the time I reached Margate it was a most glorious day…I do love living at the seaside.

my camino; the journey so far

Day 16. 09.06.2016 the other side of Margate Bay

Day 16 : 09/06/16 Broadstairs to St Peters Village to Margate and back : Walked 23.59 km – 6 hours 23 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 16. 09.06.2016 via St Peters to Margate

Day 17 : 10/06/16 Broadstairs to Ramsgate and back : Walked 9.42 km – 2 hours 33 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 17. 10.06.2016 Ramsgate

All too soon I was off to my next assignment at Bexhill on Sea, and having worked in the area before, I knew it would offer great walking opportunities…and so it did. The East Sussex Coast is beautiful; very flat with pebble beaches, great for walking although I didn’t do much walking on the beach – it’s really hard to walk on pebbles.

my camino; the journey so far

Bexhill on Sea

Day 18 : 12/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Cooden Beach and back : Walked 5.71 km – 1 hour 36 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 18. 12.06.2016 Bexhill on Sea

Day 19 : 13/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 7.03 km – 1 hour 42 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 19. 13.06.2016 Bexhill on Sea

Day 20 : 15/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 7.70 km – 1 hour 42 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 20. Bexhill on Sea

Day 21 : 16/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 7.47 km – 1 hour 53 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 21. 16.06.2016 Bexhill on Sea

Day 22 : 17/06/16 Bexhill on Sea circular walk : Walked 4.90 km – 1 hour 14 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 22. 17.06.2016 Bexhill on Seas

After quite a few decent walks I was dead keen to try a walk to Hastings and back. If I came unstuck I could always take the train back LOL. And so the next day, having arranged some extra time for my break, I set off for Hastings. What a marvellous walk. Truly beautiful and I so enjoyed the time alone with the sea breezes gently blowing off the sea. I felt that this is what it would be like on the route from Porto to Caminha which is where I would head inland to Valenca and then crossing the Minho river into Spain near Tui.

Day 23 : 18/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings and back : Walked 17.36 km – 3 hours 30 minutes ( I really enjoyed this walk).

my camino; the journey so far

Day 23. 18.06.2016 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings

Although I didn’t make it all the way into Hastings itself, I did get as far as the Pier which was superb…it stretched quite far out into the sea and offers fantastic views looking back.

my camino; the journey so far

Day 23. 18.06.2016 From Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Pier

Day 24 : 20/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 6.65 km – 1 hour 37 minutes

Day 25 : 21/06/16 Bexhill on Sea circular walk : Walked 4.58 km – 1 hour 33 minutes

Day 26 : 22/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 8.35 km – 1 hour 42 minutes

Day 27 : 23/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 8.84 km – 1 hour 52 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Days 24-27. Bexhill on Sea

Even though most days I walked much the same route, with a few slight variations, I made the most of my breaks to keep my fitness levels up. I had all sorts of weather to contend with; blazing heat with the sun baking down, windy blasts from across the channel and rain…..rain that soaked me to the skin, at which time I discovered that in fact my shoes were not waterproof hahaha. One day I got so wet my shoes squelched.

After two weeks it was back home; once again to enjoy my lovely long walks along the Kent coast.

Day 28 : 25/06/16 Broadstairs to Ramsgate and back : Walked 8.90 km – 2 hours 16 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 28. 25.06.2016 Ramsgate – I stopped frequently on this walk to take a photos

Day 29 : 27/06/16 Broadstairs to Dumpton Gap and back : Walked 4.36 km – 1 hour 6 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 29. 27.06.2016 Dumpton Gap

By this stage I had spent a considerable amount of time planning my Camino and having decided to walk along the Portuguese Coastal Route, using google maps I calculated the various distances starting from Porto through to Santiago. On the whole the routes were averaging about 14-18 kms, which after all my practice walks I knew I could easily manage, but on some days I would need to walk up to almost 30 kms, so I was keen to see if I could walk that far and thus planned a walk along the Kent coast from Broadstairs to Sandwich….. 🙂 Would I make it?

Day 30 : 28/06/16 Broadstairs to Sandwich (train back home) – you didn’t expect me to walk home?? after I’d already : Walked 28.54 km – 7 hours 2 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 30. 28.06.2016 Sandwich

The walk to Sandwich was amazing. I discovered a path that led right along the top of the cliffs and so, after passing through Ramsgate, I walked via a twisting route to Cliffsend and then onto Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve and finally to Sandwich, by which time I was exhausted and famished. But the views were just stunning and well worth the pain.

my camino; the journey so far

Day 30. 28.06.2016 views across Pegwell Bay

As part of the Camino test, I wanted to be sure that I could indeed walk two long days on the trot (no pun intended!!) ….so next day, with aching feet and legs and a back that wasn’t happy with the backpack, I set off once again to Sandwich….I nearly made it 🙂

my camino; the journey so far

Day 31. 29.06.2016 taking a lunch break in Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve

I did stop at the very edge of the nature reserve and then walked back….so…..

Day 31 : 29/06/16 Broadstairs to Pegwell Country Bay and back                                           Walked 21.84 km – 5 hours 33 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 31. 29.06.2016 Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve

Although I didn’t get as far as the town, I did have to walk back again as there were no trains nearby! hahahaha. But it was a fantastic day, well spent.

Day 32 : 30/06/16 Broadstairs to Botany Bay and back : Walked 7.90 km – 2 hours

my camino; the journey so far

Day 32. 30.06.2016 The Stacks

with a 2nd walk in the evening from Broadstairs to Dumpton Gap and back, I walked another 3.54 km – 56 minutes

And then life got in the way……I had recently been to South Africa to sort out my belongings and ship them over to the UK. All went well and I got everything packed up and shipped over…..and then came the surprise…..UK Customs and Excise….even though the shipment was of no great value, my posessions were in excess of 15 to 45 years and older, and for my own personal use….I still had to pay Customs Duty on the goods. Urgh!! and so endeth my Camino 2016, which will now have to be Camino 2017 LOL or not!!

The shock of this news kind of threw me off stride (no pun intended). The cost of the duty pretty much absorbed my travel money and I didn’t want to dip into my savings. Besides that I had just started my next assignment, and due to the nature of the position I was unable to leave the house for any length of time unless there was another person there.  So except for one day (see below) that took care of that; no more  Camino 2016 practice walks.

Day 33 : 24/07/16 : Oveny Green to Chevening and back : Walked 7.75 km – 2 hours 4 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 33. 24.07.2016 Chevening Church

I so enjoyed being able to stretch my legs again after 3 weeks and thoroughly enjoyed the excursion. I got a little unwell while I was at this assignment and for no discernible reason I still find myself quite without any energy.

Since then I have barely walked any distances at all, except if you count my 3 day visit to London 2-4th September for the Fire! Fire! London’s Burning 350th anniversary events when, as usual, I walked my feet off (but forgot to switch on the app – duh!!).

the great fire of london 1666

the City of London in wood…due to be burned on 4th September for Great Fire 350 event

It’s now mid November and I still find myself very low on energy, so my longs walks have ceased for now.

My plans for Camino 2017 are going ahead. For that walk I have decided to walk the English Way from Ferrol to Santiago. I haven’t yet decided on the precise dates, but suffice to say, I must get myself walking again.

my camino; the journey so far

…follow that shell. I saw these Pilgrim Shells in Brussels recently and loved how they lead you to different pilgrim’s churches in the city

We went to Canterbury in August where we visited the East Bridge hospital dating from 1190. It’s an intriguing place, very old with notable Gothic archways and a 13th-century mural. Once a place for pilgrims to stay; a hospitallier….the word hospital derives from this, no ill people were treated there, it was more a place to stay…like a hostel.

my camino; the journey so far

Eastbridge Hospital on the right; Religious hospital dating from 1190 with notable Gothic archways and a 13th-century mural.

Canterbury is one of the most notable pilgrim destinations and you may recall the Geoffrey Chaucer famously travelled there; his Canterbury Tales.

So not only am I planning on walking the Camino, I am also following in the footsteps of Chaucer…albeit a lot slower than he did!! LOL

This is my Canterbury Tale so far : My Canterbury Tales

The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back at the beginning of the 9th century (year 814).

I recently stumbled upon this site about getting walking fit for the Camino 

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