Planning the Walk Across Wiltshire and Swindon

The press coverage has started – eeek! I have my first ever live radio interview tomorrow morning so I’m a little nervous but also very excited to be able to get people to know of the amazing job Prospect Hospice do.
https://swindonlink.com/charity/hiking-for-prospect/

https://theswindonian.co.uk/news/swindon-mum-to-hike-78-miles-across-wiltshire-swindon-for-prospect-hospice-over-three-days


I’ve got a cold and I’m tired (I really hope I recover quickly so that I’m in form for the walk!), but I’ve spent some time this evening planning my routes for each a day a little bit better.

There are elements that will vary a little and certainly the third day I’ll follow Aimee’s guidance rather than the map!

It all add up to a little under 78 miles but no doubt I’ll get lost a few times or take detours and do a lot more! I estimated the total length might take me about 40 hours of walking. Let’s see!

Here’s a preview of what I’m planning.

Day 1

Lift from my boyfriend to Maysey Hampton.
29 mi which should be about 06:00 to 20:30. A long day.

Lift back home from Avebury.

Day 2

Lift from my boyfriend to Avebury.

26 mi which should be about 06:30 to 19:00.

Lift from Stonehenge to Salisbury from Aimee’s husband.

Day 3

Lift back to Stonehenge by Aimee’s husband.

22.8 mi which should be about 06:30 to 18:00.

My maddest challenge yet

As I just completed the Thames Path walk last Friday, I’ve been asked what my next challenge is.
I had this planned for some time and even blocked the time in my diary but I’ve just started to actually organise details in the last few days; and I can honestly say it’s the most bonkers challenge I’ve undertaken to date…and it’s approaching fast!

I will attempt a 78-mile Walk Across Wiltshire and Swindon over three days, in memory of our friend, Judith Hall, who passed away in December 2020, from a rare form of leukaemia. I talked about Judith in a couple of previous blog posts, such as when I was remembering Judith during a walk on Barbury Castle in December 2021.
The walk is a chance for me to honour Judith’s memory and fundraise and raise awareness for the great professional care the Prospect Hospice provides to support patients like Judith with home care and also at the Wroughton hospice.

Judith loved hiking and is an inspiration to me. It makes sense to me to undertake a walking challenge in her honour, as she inspired me to take on more challenging hiking trips such as walking the Thames Path on my own, in the last year.
Judith hiked in numerous locations all over the World and used to lead groups of Duke of Edinburgh award students in many local sights including the Ridgeway and Wiltshire.

I decided to walk across Swindon & Wiltshire during the pandemic, to keep the walk fairly local, due to the limitations of various lockdowns and then I started planning the route. I found it a great opportunity to demonstrate how naturally, historically and culturally rich Wiltshire and Swindon are. Unfortunately, due to an operation and ill-health in 2021, I had to postpone the three-day hike, until now.

The route covers just over three marathons in length, from the estimated Northernmost point in Wiltshire near Meysey Hampton to the Southernmost point in Wiltshire, near Nomansland. It isn’t a traditional walking path, but I planned it especially for this challenge…. (what can go wrong ?!).

It passes numerous notable landmarks: the RAF Fairford, Mouldon Hill Country Park, STEAM Museum, the Oasis Leisure Centre dome, the National Collection Centre (Science Museum), the Hackpen Hill White Horse, Avebury Stone Circle, The Sanctuary (West Kennett), the Alton Barnes White Horse, along the River Avon, Stonehenge, Old Sarum and Salisbury Cathedral.

I will be joined for a large part of the walk by my friend Aimée. We love to talk and to walk so we are sure to keep each other motivated and entertained along the way. Also, Aimée knows all the paths between Stonehenge and Salisbury so she’ll be my guide!

I am due to set off early morning on Saturday the 18th June 2022 and aim to complete the walk with Aimée on Monday 20th June, at the border between Wiltshire and Hampshire, near the interestingly named ‘Nomansland‘.

The Plan

  • Saturday 18th – Meysey Hampton to Avebury (28mi)
  • Sunday 19th – Avebury to Stenehenge (and a bit beyond) (27mi)
  • Monday 20th – Stonehenge to Nomansland (ish) (23mi)

Please support the work of the Prospect Hospice by donating to this page today.

Follow on Twitter

#waws22

@RamblingOn_Blog

Prospect Hospice

Prospect Hospice offers dedicated end-of-life care services for people with any life-limiting illness across a community of around 300,000 in Swindon, Marlborough and north Wiltshire. They deliver care within people’s own homes, at the hospice in Wroughton and in residential and care homes throughout our community. 

Please support the work of the Prospect Hospice by donating to this page today.

Back on the Path again!

It’s only a short post as I have little to talk about but I’ve just decided to resume (and hopefully complete!) my walk along the Thames Path tomorrow.
The weather is looking good, and there’s been a change to usual plan with childcare, so I think I can pack a bag tonight, make a pack lunch in the morning and head to Cricklade tomorrow and hope to complete at the Source.

weather forecast (sunny) for tomorrow


It’s been such a long wait though the wet winter months and spring after all the floods and busy weekends so I’m really looking forwards to completing this walk.

Where I stopped, in the midst of Storm Dudley, in Cricklade.

I’m then planning to complete, in just over two weeks from now, the ‘Walk Across Wiltshire’ I had planned to complete last June but had to postpone due to my illness and hysterectomy operation.

My estimated route across Wiltshire.

I will need to re-plan this including accommodation in the next week (that involves trying a single tent and see if I can carry stuff for three days!). I’m hoping to fundraise for the Prospect Hospice , in honour of Judith and for all the amazing work they do.
Anyone with advice or tips regarding walking with a tent etc. for three days, do let me know!!

Just a pause, not the end…

I should be walking on the Thames path today… from Newbridge to Lechlade. But I’m home, working, writing this blog on my lunch break from work.
5 days ago there were announcements of very high Covid cases in the UK and a new variant.

So I decided to cancel the last 5 days of my Thames Path walk, for now. With cases on the rise, having to take public transport to the start, two nights in hotels and Christmas approaching, it felt like an unnecessary risk for our family and the families of those who wanted to join me for part of the way. It’s so frustrating. I was so close to finishing the trail but I can’t take the risk.

If it’d been local not requiring public transports, hotels and eating out, I’d have gone.

It’s all a bit sad but it’s the cost of keeping safe I guess. When this is all over I can hopefully enjoy finishing the walk. The Thames Path will be there long after this pandemic!

So no more Thames Path updates here for a while. I can’t even fix a date to re-schedule it as I have no idea what other measures and for how long this is likely to last.

Filling in the gaps: Thames Path community, toilet breaks and planning ahead

I felt like I needed a short post here to fill in the gap between my last walk and the next.

Since I’ve return from Marlow, I’ve spent some time planning the next sections. I also joined a couple of groups on Facebook and following some new Twitter accounts.

I’ve booked some annual leave, booked ttransport and accommodation, and asked favours from friends too, for the next few sections.

I’ve got a few more OS Explorer maps to add to the collection and help me plan the end of this route.

Thames Path community

I found there is a really active and lovely community of Thames Path walkers on social media. The community shares lovely pictures but also advice and timely updates on the path including fallen trees and floods.

Thames Path Walk: https://www.facebook.com/groups/991105694330798/?ref=share

Thames Path Walkers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/948466562294129/?ref=share

Thames Path National Trail: https://twitter.com/thamespathnt?s=21

Thames Path: https://twitter.com/thethamespath?s=21

@ThamesPathNT

Walk the Thames Path: https://walkthethames.co.uk/blog/2021/11/08/thames-path-news-round-up-64/?fbclid=IwAR1EajX22dtAftF3tqY0RRKHo70NT8mHWwbEhGeCXC0Y9tLFWxt_a6QZlT8


Toilet

I’ve threatened for some time to do a blog on Thames Path toilets (or lack thereof). So I thought I’d share a document I found detailing all the toilets on the way. Many of these are currently closed.

Here’s the site in comes from for up to date info.

https://www.visitthames.co.uk/about-the-river/information-on-toilets-and-water-points


Next plans

I’ve decided to return to the trail on 19th November. I’ll be walking three days from Marlow to Wallingford. I’ll stay in Henley-on-Thames then in Pangbourne, overnight.

It means packing more things in my bag and a few expenses but with the short days at the moment, it allows me to start the Saturday and Sunday sections earlier than if I took public transports each day.

Section 6: 19/11/21 – Marlow bridge to Henley-on-Thames (8.5miles /13.7km)

Section 7: 20/11/21 – Henley-on-Thames to Pangbourne (16miles /25.7km)

Section 8: 21/11/21 – Pangbourne to Wallingford (18miles /29km)

Section 9: 5/12/21 – Wallingford to Abingdon Bridge (14miles/22.5km)


Weather

It looks like the weather will be cloudy but dry on Friday and Saturday and sunny on Sunday. But it’ll be pretty cold with top temperatures around 8 degrees Celsius.

I’ve packed my bag, prepared some food and plugged my watch to charge. Now I just have to make my way to Marlow tomorrow.

Planning the next stage of the Thames path – 07 November 2021

It’s the morning of the third section of my walk along the Thames from Kingston-upon-Thames onwards.

Rucksack on the floor
My rucksack & 2 water bottles ready to go

What I’ve done so far and what adjustments I made

I’ll be taking it slower in these couple of next sections than I did for the first two sections. I’m planning fewer miles a day to make it easier on my feet and also to allow for long transport time on day one and limited day light at this time of the year. The sun will set in Chertsey at 16:26 on Sunday.

The aim is to go to Chertsey by the end of the first day (Sunday) then to Windsor the next day (Monday) and to Marlow the following day (Tuesday), so that’s three days walk along the Thames.

After the first two sections of the walklast month, I had to rest my feet (well, my right foot) for a few weeks and skip a couple of weekends of walking as I was in a lot of pain when walking. I even had an x ray. But all was good thankfully.

I’ve also bought myself some new trail shoes, because I realised that I had walked over 500 miles in the previous ones, which might explain the pain.

So I would encourage people to want to do this walk to get some good comfy shoes for the first couple of days when you spend so long on pavements or even break the first two sections up in three sections/days, which is advised in some of the guides.

Updates

I’ll be updating each day as much as possible on my walks on the blog and posting photos.

For the first two days at least of this trip, I’ve reverted to bring only my phone camera (iPhone) rather than the DSLR camera. I will consider whether to use the camera again on Tuesday – after I’ve gone back home overnight. As it’s only a day trip or not an overnight stay, I will have less to carry do might be able to ‘afford’ the camera weight. As Sunday to Monday involves an overnight stay in Chertsey, I carry additional items along with me for the two days such as a wash bag and my PJs.

OS maps used for these sections (Kingston to Marlow)

Explorer 161 and Explorer 160

Chertsey to Windsor on OS explorer 160

What I look forward to the most

  • Getting outdoors.
  • Seeing new sights.
  • Fresh air.
Thames Barrier picture by Tom Wheatley

Take a walk on the Thames side

Planning the Thames Path walk.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve done long walks before and parts of National Trails but never a whole Trail.

I’ve decided to walk the Thames Path. But I can’t take many days off work for it so I’ll be walking it over some weekends between now and the summer, over about 12 to 15 days.
I’ve read up about various options and I decided to walk it in sections, and upstream.

Timing and planning

As I work remotely but my job (office) is based in London, I will use the opportunity to be in London for work in October, to start my walk from the Thames Barrier (tomorrow!). I’ll walk for the weekend then I’ll go to work on Monday and Tuesday.

The official National Trail website recommends the walk downstream so I find this book best to organise my walk, with the narrative around the upstream. I like the book as I’m reading about what I’ll see in my walks in advance, so I can hopefully remember some facts etc. as I go along my day.

Note, if you use this link to purchase this book, I will get a small commission from Amazon.

I have got three OS Explorer maps numbers 161, 162, and 173.

OS Explorer maps for day 1&2 of the walk

Note, if you use this link to purchase any of these items, I will get a small commission from Amazon.

The plan is to walk from Thames Barrier to Putney Bridge on day 1 and Putney to Kingston Bridge on day 2. I have no idea whether I can do this, what pace I’ll keep and whether I’ll cover this distance in two days, but I’ll have a go!
It’s 32km (20miles) on day 1 and 22km (14miles) on day 2.

Accommodation and transport

After initially choosing to use the coach to London, I decided to opt for a train trip on the Friday night, four night in a cheap (for London) but clean hotel and train back home on Tuesday evening.
I’ll be take the Tube and but to the start of the path at the Thames Barrier visitor centre tomorrow morning and coming back to my hotel on the Tube at night, then back to where I stopped on the Tube and back to the hotel again on the train and Tube on Sunday evening.

I’ll update you on how that worked out.


Photography

I’m not a naturally gifted photographer but I’ve decided to give a DSLR camera a go. That’s the model I have (borrowed from my boyfriend): Nikon D3200. I’ll also probably take a few pictures on my iPhone.

Packing

I’m packing today for the weekend and two days at work so I need to bring everything as well as keeping it light. I’m going to compile a list of kit I’m using for this walk and post it under the ‘Gear‘ category of this blog in the next week or so.

Tracking

I’m also looking into how I can get tracking of my route to share live from my Garmin but I’ve not worked this out yet. Watch this space 🙂

If you have tips or suggestions regarding the route, comment and let me know please.
I’m off to London today and will update on my walk this weekend.


Are you ready boots?

My name is Aurélie and I like walking.

Here. I’ve said it! 🙂
Plenty of people enjoy walking and there are tons of fab blogs out there about hiking and walking so you may wonder why I feel the need to write publicly about my small (mostly) local adventures.

First, I feel that I would like to share my walks and get tips and advice on future walks too, from more experienced walkers.
I’ve completed a few ultra-marathon walks with the Threshold trail series: Race to the Stones (twice), Race to the Tower and Race to the King. They are amazing, well-supported events, which I very much recommend. I have also walked along the Ridgeway a few times, and done part of the North Cornwall coastal path which is absolutely beautiful! I walk mostly solo or in organised walks so my kit does vary and so far, although I’m not adverse to camping, I’ve only ever stayed in booked accommodations on my walks (apart from one night in a tent on Race to the Stones, the very first time) so I’m still a beginner hiker and I have a lot to learn.
I do sometimes walk with the family too. My partner and I have five children between us. We are also long-term dog-sitting currently so we sometimes walk with beautiful Missy, super cute Schnauzer (you’ll see pictures of her in a blog post soon).
I’m inspired by a lot of other hikers and one of my inspiration is my friend Jen who walked LEJOG solo a few years back.

I have also had a few questions from friends recently regarding planning days-out (solo, in groups and as a family) as well as longer walks so I thought I’d share my own tips and hope to share downloadable checklists and kit lists soon, too. I’d like to connect with other walkers and get recommendations from you all too, so I hope you feel you can comment on the posts or email me to suggest future topics or questions you have.

Another reason is that I talk a lot. I mean A LOT! This way, writing about my walks channels my narrative and saves my friends and family from my ramblings (see what I did, here?).

Finally, I’ve decided to try a DSLR camera (I’m borrowing this from my boyfriend) and although I’m not good at photography, I thought I’d use it to document my walks as I’m planning longer walks. I’ll also share photos taken on my phone (iPhone 12 Pro Max).

I hope to keep up the blogging so I can share my Thames Path adventures over the next few months, as I’m planning to walk the Thames Path upstream, over a dozen walking days or so. I have planned a ‘Walk Across Wiltshire’ 3-day walk that I couldn’t do last year so I’m hoping to share this with you, too, soon.
I’m going to start the blog with sharing retrospectively a couple of shorter but lovely recent walks and posting about my preparation for the Thames Path walk.