Just finished a long day from Mere to Sanford Orcas just north of Sherbourne. The weather has been good but the going underfoot very challenging. They produce a lot of milk and cheese round here and the reason is obvious as there is a lot of grass and water. Having squelched ones way across a waterlogged field one is then presented with the challenge of opening a gate through which a herd of cows have already spent some time creating an unholy quagmire or climbing a dodgy stile!
Scanning the map I have been looking for alternative routes. One looked ‘quite’ promising as it called itself a ‘lane’ albeit ‘Hangman’s Lane’. It lived up to its name!
I have been following the Monarchs Way which is allegedly the route which Charles 11 took when escaping after the Battle of Worcester. Well you would not expect it to follow a straight line, would you? More like an escape and evasion exercise!
All sounds a bit bleak but I have been staying with some wonderful friends. Sister Rozzie has been nursing me notwithstanding it is she who has the new hip. Antony and Julia Wells ferried wined dined and A with Puzzle the spaniel accompanied me off the Plain and towards the Dairy quagmire which he successfully managed to avoid by leaving at just the right moment! Also been hosted by Wendy and Chris Braithwaite who suffered with great generosity the muddy boots and dishevelled Pilgrim.
Three others who are much more worthy of note.
One man whom Antony and I met steaming towards us with great intent armed with two poles, a head bandana and covered in mud from head to toe. He was striving to be the first man to do the Monarchs Way in one go.. all 500 miles of it in 12 days.. unbelievable given any conditions let alone these. He had time to impart some advice to help with sore achilles which I have taken on board but it has yet to work.
My nephew-in-law Neil Jeffers who is the senior pilot with the London Air Ambulance who is now most of way through the Marathon Des Sables. Doing brilliantly raising money for the Ambulance
Finally Antony Wells tells me of a friend who is guiding a blind man from Lands End to John O’G . It’s branded ‘ Blindmanwalking ‘ in aid of a charity. It all has to be done on roads and if you have walked any distance on a busy road you will begin to understand what a frightening and dangerous challenge that will be. Talk about unpaid Carer!
Losing brother Tom from the walk was a bit of blow for lots of reasons but especially for his precision when it came to navigation. However Navigating has become easier since minutes after leaving Tom I bumped into a team of once year trekkers ( one being Tom Sheldon) who immediately bought me a pint and introduced me to View Finder an app which tells you where you are and which way you are walking which comes in particularly handy towards end of day when frankly I could not tell you whether I am walking uphill or down!
Finally excitement on Salisbury Plain. I had planned a route across but when I looked more closely took me right through the Larkhill Artillery Range. Even as I tried to circumnavigate I could hear the heavy thump of high explosive getting ever nearer . I tried unsuccessfully to video a war correspondents report but sadly for sound effect purposes they had redirected their fire elsewhere. I thought that might have been worth a bob or two.
Hope All is well at home. Coco is behaving himself and Mum coping with her sore back after her first yoga lesson.
Tomorrow Friday 13th I head off with Michael Gurney to meet up with Nigel and Bumble HP. Some who know Michael from army days might say that is not a propitious move. He has come armed with all the necessary maps and his usual unbounded enthusiasm. I will however be sure to cross bridges before he gets there! More seriously it is lovely to have him with me.
Lots of love for now. Two more days to the coast and then I take a rest for it is Tor’s birthday and we love to spend it on West Coast of Ireland. Time for repair of right Achilles’ tendon and left hip. Then off to conquer France and Spain.
your friend and master