Walking the length of Wiltshire (18th-20th June)

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.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7330739127

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.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7336107501

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.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7340495457

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.