Thursday 10 July
We woke with excitement at the prospect of sleeping in our own bed tonight and a hot shower. The usual routine followed, breakfast of porridge, bags packed and out of the door. The manager of the hotel we had stayed at was intrigued and interested at the details of our walk and as a result we received a good deal on the accommodation costs - Many thanks for your hospitality and generosity, you know who you are.
We returned to where we had left off with the day ahead to be a very long one following a marked path most of the way through there suburbs of Barnet, Finchley, Hampstead and Camden Town - some 18 miles to Euston station where the day would end - not too far….lol.
Despite the excitement of travelling home both our bodies batteries were pretty tired and the first very steep hill, within the first half mile, that went on for ever was not a welcome start. We both reached the top puffing and blowing like cart horses, myself from the extra effort of assisting Rachel with her bike by pushing it from the rear - a true gentleman!
It was not long before we departed after arranging our first meeting point. It was a bit spooky for me knowing that here I was in London surrounded by so many people, so close yet alone on this path, as I headed into the woods. These woods were originally part of a huge ancient forest of London before the urban sprawl. It was not long before my phone rang as Rachel was unsure of her directions and was not keen keen on the idea of heading towards the A1 (an extremely busy dual carriageway). I reiterated the directions she should travel and off we resumed.
It was not long before I had the same A1 experience but this time for me it was necessity as the path I had to follow took me up and down the road as I had to use an underpass to reach the other side. Rachel was very alarmed when she queried by text why I was taking so long and I responded that I was just walking down the A1………….
I met a women and son and gave them the right of way on the path, explaining I was not as fast as them. She was intrigued as to whether I had travelled far and a conversation ensued about long distance walks, and the journey I was following. She was enthralled by my tales, asking many questions, and we parted as our paths went their separate ways, but not before a solid handshake and another well done uttered. It is on occasions like this that really make the day worthwhile….
Eventually I met up with Rachel, she relayed her experience of wishing to avoid heading towards the A1 at a roundabout earlier and that after completing several laps of it on the inside, three lanes of moving traffic had to stop and give way so she could reach the road she wanted. I refuelled, then after arranging the next meeting point we set off fairly quickly as the weather forecast had mentioned heavy showers later in the day.
For me the paths were a doodle to follow, very well marked and with little or no obstacles to hinder my progression.
Rachel checked in by phone again as she believed she had passed the point where we had planned to meet. Now there are directions and directions and information and information and so a conversation followed……
Rachel - “Hello I think I have gone past where we were going to meet, this road seems to be going on for a long time”
Tony - “So where about’s are you?”
Rachel - “I am on a road and there lots of people, cars, some shops and oh a bus”
Well I am gifted in many ways but that beat me. Eventually we identified where in London she was and how she could meet up with me as my path was ok to cycle on.
We continued together and after nine miles reached Finchley, as we crossed the road I spied a coffee shop and with depleting energy levels and the thoughts of a comfy seat to sit on, a warm drink made by someone and ……..dare I say, possibly a piece of cake, we availed ourselves of their hospitality.
After a 30 minute break and with another nine miles still to complete we decided that it was best to get going again. The path I was following now had reached suburbia and it was easy for Rachel to cycle alongside me, the signs flashed by. We passed a local synagogue and were surprised at the strength of the security measures that surrounded it, including security staff. Soon we reached East Finchley tube station and followed the path through it. We paused at a local fruit stall so we could top up on our ‘five a day’. I checked the map as the path did not feel right and yes as I thought we were on the wrong one……..Bubbles!!!!
We retraced our steps with Rachel in front to identify where we had gone wrong. Eventually some 1.5 miles later we found the error of our ways and set off on the correct path.
We soon arrived at Hampstead and walked through the village houses, very nice indeed and with some at a mere 4.5 million pounds an absolute bargain. Just past the Heath there is small pond which used to be frequented by the local people in days gone by when the weather was hot and sunny, so much so that the area was commonly known as Hampstead on Sea…..
From Hampstead we reached Camden Town a thriving and hectic metropolis of people, noises and smells. It was strange that in between the suburb areas the streets were relatively quiet only to wake up as the local shops started to materialise. By now I was starting to flag and with 18 miles having gone past it was just a case of head down and just walk. After 21.5 miles we reached our end goal of Euston station and the next stop being the nearest place for a well deserved beer and something to eat.
|Camden Lock, London|
Distance - 18.50 miles
Distance since Helmsley - 389.55 miles