Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Big Smoke here we come !!

Wednesday 9 July

Well after a reasonable nights sleep on the floor of the Library in the Quaker Meeting House - thank you again William for the hospitality and generous support, it was a quick pack up and out of the door before the venue was occupied from 8am. 

So next stop breakfast, well Sainsburys (and other stores are also available) offer a reasonable choice and the nearest one was only just over half a mile away, so off we headed deciding to give Wetherspoons although nearer a miss.

Eventually we arrived at the store and while Rachel was locking the bike up I gathered all our goods and chattels and like a laden mule I headed to the cafe and promptly completed an immediate u-turn back to Rachel…………o dear, o dear, o dear or words that effect I uttered - well this is a public blog! I informed Rachel with much smoke coming out of my ears that although this was in fact a superstore, the cafe only served tea, coffee and croissants for breakfast. Now that was not quite what I had in mind and was really looking forward to, so I was not a happy bunny. Rather than return to town we headed to the organisation that has ‘Golden Arches’ and serves plastic food - a very sad and sorry replacement.

Eventually the days walk started from St Albans, the meeting point agreed with Rachel, and I set off to follow the Ver-Colne Valley Walk. Ironically and totally unplanned in St Albans passing by a ruined 12c Benedictine Nunnery in Slipshot.

The first part of the walk was a pleasant 6.5 miles following the river through lush meadows, quiet bridleways and only one field of Bovines that just happily continued munching on grass as I stealthy approached and slipped by.

The first meeting point went without a hitch shortly after I walked over the Magic Roundabout otherwise known as the ‘Road to Hell” (M25) by the singer Chris Rea.

We parted after I had refuelled and agreed to meet soon at a village pub. This was so that Rachel could catch up with e-mails and the blog diaries we have been writing. It had nothing to do with the fact it was a warm sunny day and they served beer………….honest!!

From the Ver-Colne Valley Walk the path turned onto the Hertfordshire way which made the navigating for the day very trouble free as I passed from signpost to signpost showing me the way. Needless to say when we met at the pub I had a cheeky half, previously I have drunk a full pint in the afternoon but due to the warm temperatures, the distances I have been walking and the fact I am regularly burning nearly 2000 calories a day, the beer makes me very sleepy and lethargic.

After a longer than normal break we set off to our final meeting point before we were able to complete the final section together. I found that even the half pint I had severally depleted my energy levels and my legs were like lead weights as I plodded on - I think beer during the day will be out of the question in the future.

My walk took me over a local airfield with no security aside from the obligatory warning about low aircraft…….I thought that would have been obvious. As I started to cross over I could hear a helicopter some way off but definitely approaching so I increased my speed. Just then my phone informed me I had a message, whilst multi-tasking ( not a very common thing on my part ) I checked the phone to see a message from Rachel to inform me that she had arrived at the ‘North Pole’ and everything would be made clear when we met up?

After passing through the local park I found Rachel and yes she was truly at the North Pole - well according to Pooh Bear! It transpired that she was sitting in a field in the park that was where Pooh Bear lived - honest. There was pots of honey, signs pointing to the North and South and other Pooh related paraphernalia. I had my photo taken just for the record.

After passing all the quite footpaths and villages we entered suburbia and all the noise, smells and traffic the goes with it. We had managed to find some accommodation after informing  the manager of a hotel that we were in desperate need of a bed, we were completing a long distance walk and that after many queries from people interested in the walk, yes we were also completing it for charity but initially not our primary purpose. The latter phrase being the key that opened the hotel vacancy door.

After a very long hot shower, a meal, I was unconscious and in the land of nod by 8pm.


Tony, the explorer

The explorer hugging the North Pole

Distance - 12 miles
Distance since Helmsley - 370.75 miles

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