The last post

Well its all over and I’m sitting at home on a Monday afternoon with slightly sore feet, but generally feeling very happy with how everything has gone.

I put my boots on on Sunday morning and my sore toe from the day before had got worse over night. However not willing to be defeated, I worked this out as a solution.

I’m afraid its the end of the boots, but it worked rather well.

I stayed at home Saturday night and got my best nights sleep of the walk. So feeling good and with a sorted out toe, I set off quite happily for the 7.39 train. I decided to get an early start, partly as I knew on the last day I would be going rather slowly, but also because I wanted to get away from the South bank before the crowds arrived.
I think this was a good move and actually the South bank, when very quiet in the early morning sunshine, was a very nice place to be.

Although this was not the most scenic days walking, it was very interesting seeing how things changed from the tourist areas, into the posh residential area. Then on through the Lewisham council estates and finally onto the strange industrial areas past Greenwich.

Not the most scenic!

Well the rest of the mornings walk went smoothly, if slowly. I got to Greenwich about 12.30 and waited for Jo, who was meeting me for lunch. She turned up about ten minutes later holding her belly and crying. She had started to get contractions while on the train on the way up and was worried she was going into labour! Fortunately as she sat and calmed down, things started to ease off and now 24 hours later all seems well.
We did come to the conclusion at the time though that I would finish the walk whatever happened. Not sure if I would have done though.

Then as planned, people started to arrive to walk the last 4 miles with me.


This is us leaving Greenwich, I think once we had picked up a few strays there were thirty of us walking. Jo sensibly decided to get a taxi to the end.

Here we all are at the barrier,

And here we are at the pub afterwards,

I have to say as the barrier came into sight my feelings were somewhat mixed. I was quite glad to be finishing, but after 12 days I had somewhat got into a routine and if I had not got my bad toe I felt I could have kept going for a few more days. However sitting at home now, I feel happy its all done, and a great sense of achievement. There were times just before I started the walk that I doubted if it was something I could really do. But now that its done I’m so happy I set out on this adventure.

So I would like to say thank you to everybody who has supported me, be it through donations, offering me a bed for the night, coming to walk with me, or even through texts and messages which have kept me going.

This walk was always about two things, raising money for SANDS ( at the latest count over £3000) and remembering my son Elliot.

Well, Elliot we will always love you, I hope you are proud of your dad.

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Into the big city

Day 11 Kew bridge to Waterloo 12.5 miles

Spent the night staying with my friend Nick Wilkinson in Isleworth. As befits the single gentleman that he is, we had an evening of takeaway pizza and championship playoff football on the telly.

Had real difficulty getting my left boot on this morning, but once I got walking the foot seemed to settle down a bit.

It was a case of deja vu all over again today. Joggers, cyclists and rowers, just like last Saturday as I walked into Oxford.
However I did spot one difference. As I said last week, on approaching Oxford people stopped saying hello. Well as I walked further into London, people don’t say hello, but they do stare at you until you think they are going to. However at the last moment they look away and you are left with your mouth open about to speak. There seems to be a real art to it.
I’m sure I remember a comedian working this into his act once. Well I now know what he was talking about.

I’m becoming something of an expert on path surfaces. This is my most disliked:

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However, fortunately today the cyclists had worn a narrow path of it smooth. Sorry cyclists but my need is greater than yours.

There is surprisingly little to see as you walk in to London from the west. The blocks of flats just get higher the nearer you are to the centre. The riverside walkways are all very nice in front of these flats, but it’s just all very stark and slightly desolate.

Then finally you get to here:

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And all of a sudden there are people and bustle and life. Which is nice for about two minutes, until it becomes this:

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I feel I’m more of a fan of the solitude of the grassy meadows a hundred miles or so back up the river.
Fortunately my days walking was soon done and I was able to pop off to Waterloo station.

I will be staying at home this evening, the cost of staying in central London didn’t seem worth it and anyway it will be good to see Jo, who I haven’t seen since last Sunday.

Then it’s the final day!

In case anybody has missed it. Anybody who would like to, is welcome to join me at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich at 2pm tomorrow to walk the last 4 miles to the barrier. Then nip to a local pub for a pint.

Right on Kew

Day 10 Walton on Thames to Kew bridge, 15 miles

Firstly wanted to say I was right about the difficult 9th day. Feet felt a lot better this morning than they did yesterday.

Had a nice night at my friends Rachel and Nick’s house. Not to forget little Evie

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As if you could.

It was a lovely bright sunny morning and a real pleasure to be out walking, even with my feet. The scenery today was all about big houses and palaces. Hampton court palace, Ham house, Syon park, Kew palace all passed by during the day.

I was joined on my walk by two friends from my lighting directors society. Although I have not felt lonely at any point on the walk, it was very nice for a change to have a couple of people to talk to. I feel we put the problems with the TV industry to rights today amongst other things.
It also meant that lunch instead of being a sandwich on a bench somewhere, was rather more civilised.

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It was interesting today that I’m now into parakeet country. It still feels very strange to have them screeching around above you.
Also saw a lot of Herons, or “gold fish murderers” as one of my companions referred to them. I think there may be some history there.

Hardest thing today was that the path surface has become a sort of flinty gravel. At times rather painful if a stone hits a blister. Never thought I would say this but I’m looking forward too some nice even concrete.

And that was my day, I suppose when you walk with other people you spend less time observing what is around you and more time concentrating on the conversation, but I have to say such a day came at just the right time for me.

Tonight I have foisted myself on another friend and tomorrow it’s onto London proper. Waterloo is where I finish and then just one more day to go.

That difficult 9th day

Day 9 Windsor to Walton on Thames 15 miles

I had it in my head today would be hard work. I felt that day ten onwards I would feel the end was in sight. But today there are still three days to go and it still feels a long way off.

However two things have helped today. Firstly staying at my friend Ollie’s last night. A home cooked meal of pork chops and mash and an evening in front of the telly was just what I needed.
He very kindly also did some washing for me!
Emma has him well trained!

Then when I retired to bed, Jo had sent me this:

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Young “Pip” as he/she is currently known. 33 weeks and 4 days and all is well.

First spot of the morning and I guess you could call it wildlife. Saw prince Philip out carriage driving as I passed through Windsor great park. Sadly a bit too far away to ask for a donation.

The only other wildlife was a rather large aggressive dog. Apparently he was “more scared of me than I was of him” However I wasn’t the one baring my fangs and growling.

The main feature of today’s walk has been the fact that I am now under the flightpath out of Heathrow. So every couple of minutes a very loud jet passed over. Something of a shock after the quietness of the last week.

Other than that, there are now a lot more houses than spaces as you walk along the bank. Unfortunately this is not matched by an increase in public toilets. I think I may need to drink a bit less water as I walk.

I passed a momentous point today,

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That’s the M25 and as far as I am concerned that now puts me in London.

After all the times I’ve been over that bridge, who would have thought they actually went out of their way to build a nice looking Thames bridge. I will try and think a bit more fondly of it the next time I’m stuck in traffic on the top of it.

Fatigue started to set in during the afternoon. I realised I’m not walking much more than an hour now before I want a break. Still, only three days left, I think I can keep going.

One exciting thing this afternoon, got to make a ferry journey,

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Well for 30seconds.

Spending the night with more friends. Nick and Rachel in Hampton. Rachel is currently on her way back from the fish and chip shop.
Can’t ask for much more.

Windsor tonight

Hurley to Windsor. 17.5 miles

Well I have to say the flower pot has been the best place I have stayed so far. Despite their love for taxidermy.

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This was the rather fish themed main bar. Also worth noting Bill Jones at bar buying me a drink!

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This was outside my room when I got up this morning. Am convinced it wasn’t there when I went to bed last night.

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And these were watching me eat my breakfast this morning. Only down side of the pub was they had a couple of noisy yappy dogs. I think if I was them I would try and keep a lower profile.

Talking of animal noise was woken about five by the local cockerel. Although a bit annoying, made me miss my chickens.

This morning was rather overcast, although it threatened rain, nothing appeared. It was actually quite pleasant and a bit cooler. This all helps as I’m now really starting to feel tired as I walk.
My mum phoned yesterday, well actually she has phoned everyday(don’t think they ever stop worrying), I complained about how much my feet hurt and her answer was as least it’s not as bad as the poor British prisoners made to march 500 miles across Burma in bare feet with Japanese soldiers shooting anybody who fell over.
I think she was being sympathetic?

Also today met the two extremes of long distance walkers. First three very nice retired ladies who were doing the whole path, but only ten miles a day. Their main preoccupation seemed to be which pub did the best gin and tonic.
Then I met a mad American. He was doing the whole walk then joining onto the icknield way then joining onto Offa’s Dyke and at some point circling back to London. Oh, and he was camping, but only if it rained. Otherwise he planned to just sleep by the path.
I know which way of doing it I would prefer.

Ten miles a day now looks very very appealing to me. It’s starting to become something of a war of attrition between me and my feet. I think I’m going to win but they are fighting hard.

Made Windsor at about 6pm today. My walking pace has definitely slowed down. But I guess that’s not surprising.

Am spending the night staying with my friends Ollie and Emma. Have just had a pint from the Windsor and Eton brewery, which is almost opposite his front door and a nice home cooked meal.

Think I will sleep well tonight.

Reading I won’t miss you

Day 7 Reading to Hurley 15.5 miles

Now I’ve never been a great fan of Reading. Jo lived on the edge in Caversham for six months and I think we used to try and get out as quickly as possible. Well now I feel it has gone down in my estimations.
As I was walking in yesterday I thought I had trodden in something, but soon worked out I had not and it was just a general smell in the air.
The roads appear to be one great traffic jam and as for the taxis. Booked one at my hotel for 8.30am to get me back to the river. Ten to nine reception phoned the taxi firm and they wouldn’t even answer the phone. Booked a second one which would be “ten minutes” twenty minutes later it arrived.

Was very glad to be walking out of there this morning.

Once that Trauma was over the walk has continued quite well, the scenery is very pleasant along this stretch and as you near Henley the houses just get bigger and bigger.

Came across one with it’s own railway in the back garden!

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Didn’t get a shot of the 15ft high replica of st Moritz station they had built there as well!

Saw four buzzards together, but the wildlife generally seems to settled down to Swans and Ducks.

Had lunch in a nice park in Henley, surrounded by a sea of Bugaboo buggies. Actually don’t know why I’m laughing, we might end up buying one!

Also got a phone call about a days work on thursday, actually think if I get away with only losing one day over these two weeks I’ve done quite well. Usual trick is as soon as you book something everybody phones you up.

Although that does obviously means nobody is phoning about work!

Am spending the night at a lovely little pub called the flower pot. My friend Bill Jones joined me for dinner, which was very good, with an extremely good pint of Breakspears.

The only annoying thing is this pub is the only place I stay where you literally step off the route into the accommodation. Something I always enjoy.
However, I recalculated my mileage yesterday and realised that tomorrow’s walk was 20.5 miles not the 17 I had thought. Don’t think I could manage that at this stage, so walked three miles past the pub I was staying at and had to get a cab back to it.
Will need another cab in the morning. Such a shame, but got to think about getting to the end.

Starting to worry about the state of my feet. Everything else is holding up well, but just worked out have nine compeeds on my feet now.

Was nice getting past the hundred miles today. I feel up to the 100 you count up the miles after the 100 you count down to the end.

Which I make 72 miles to go.

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