It’s now been four weeks since I embarked on this insane but beautiful 79-miles walk across Wiltshire and Swindon. #WAWS
Life got in the way of blogging about it (I was planning to blog in the week after the hike) but it does deserve a post here. It’s my biggest physical and mental endeavour, yet.
I’m very proud to say we managed to raise over £1,000.00 for Prospect Hospice, in memory of Judith. I’m amazed and grateful for your generosity. Thank you so much to all who supported me.
I’m going to do my best to recall the walk but most of it is told by pictures and thanks to Aimée for pushing me on till the end on day two and three.
Saturday – Day 1: Meysey Hampton to Avebury
Shortly after starting the walk, I went through some woods before reaching the Fairford airfields and the early morning birdsongs were absolutely beautiful and enchanting. I’m sat in my garden now writing this and the bird songs now are lovely and echo the sounds of that morning.
It was so nice, just 2 weeks after I finished the Thames path, to re-walk some of the Thames Path walk, near Cricklade. It was especially such a striking difference, on a summer quiet day compared to when I last had approached Cricklade, late February in the midst of Storm Dudley!
My friend Richard, Judith’s husband, joined me in Cricklade for a good few miles all the way to Purton. It was great to have company. I was chatting so much that I forgot to take many pictures on that stretch.
After Purton, I had to cross another cows’ field and reached Mouldon Hill. There was a very overgrown area to cross but I made it. Then the rain started to be very strong as I stopped for my regular socks change and snack. But I still stopped, under a tree to make sure I had a good break.
At that point I was ahead of schedule. But with the weather and fatigue starting to hit me, I started slowing down.
By the time I reached the Oasis and Steam museum, I’d lost all the time that I had previously gained.
It became more difficult to progress, but walking along the canal as I left Swindon was such a pleasant experience.
As I left Wichelstowe before crossing over to Wroughton, I saw a sign telling me the path I expected to be there was shut as they are literally building a road there. So I walked along the road to Wroughton and that was a pretty unpleasant part of the walk, as I kept having to jump on the side/ditch as the car zoomed past.
Richard joined me again in Wroughton and we climbed to Barbury Castle together. We also met Mike Pringle on the way who joined us. It was so mice to have company. Also the weather had stayed dried since Wroughton too.
Then I joined the Ridgeway, on very familiar territory now as I walked this last bit to Avebury with the Race to the Stones twice before. It’s always such a hard part for me. And this was no exception. The weather turned, the wind picked up and I was miserable. Slow, cold, tired. My hips hurt with the pressure of my bag on my lower back. But I kept going and wobbled all the way to Avebury.
I was so tired and arrived quite late; I didn’t even take time to take photos. The car par was shut and there were a lot of security guards about as they were preparing for the Summer solstice that weekend.
Sunday – Day 2: Avebury to Stonehenge (and a bit further)
On day 2, the amazing Aimee joined meat Avebury and walked all the way till the end with me! Avebury to Stonehenge was a marathon.
We were very lucky with the weather.
Richard joined up, just after Walkers’ Hill / Alton Barnes, along the canal and up to Woodborough.
It was very civilised as we stopped at a tea room and later in a pub garden for refreshments.
After Richard left, we then joined the Avon. We took a detour from my mapped route on Salisbury plains as the route was taking us woods that had no paths.
We saw some tanks crossing and then headed to Larkhill and Stonehenge. We carries a little further past Stonehenge to reach a lovely farm where Aimee’s friends live and Mark, Aimee’s husband picked up up from there.
I stayed the night at Aimee and Mark’s house in Salisbury.
Monday – Day 3: Stonehenge to the border with Hampshire
I have to admit that day 3 was a bit of a blur. In some ways so many memorable moments but also all starting to blend because of the exhaustion. Aimee is mad enough to have joined me on day 3 and I probably have had to do a fourth day of walking if it wasn’t for her being there.
By then, my hips pain from day one was really taking a toll but it was a case of ‘mind over matter’ and I kept putting one foot in front of the other, thinking of all the people who kindly donated for Prospect Hospice, and listen to Aimee’s advice and encouragement.
Two things made a major difference: 1 – we switched on music on my phone and we walked along while dancing to the music. Our pace really increased. 2 – the way past Old Sarum into Salisbury, in the sun followed by an ice cream and lunch at the Cathedral was so enjoyable!
Before I forget to mention it, because I don’t have photos, one awesome memory has been to be able to watch parents and young Peregrines on the spire of the cathedral.
Outside of the west front of the cathedral, run by the local Salisbury members group of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) there was an event allowing members of the public to watch the Peregrines through the two telescopes set up to watch the birds.
The rest of the day was tough, in the heat, diverted as the OS map route doesn’t indicate part of the route was private, and simply exhausted.
I was slow and felt like a burden for Aimee but we got there: we managed to get, after three days of walking, to the border with Hampshire; I also saw some wild horses which I’d been looking forward to seeing.