I’m taking part in the 2019 #AspireChannelSwim from 9th November to 1 December. The challenge as set by the Aspire charity is to swim the width of the English Channel (22 miles). However, I realised early on I was going to get this done early on so I’ve set myself a personal target of at least 60 miles and maybe 66 miles.
The chart below shows my progress to date in the red with my 60-mile target in yellow.
Day 1 was a 20-mile walk from Lichfield to Stafford, from The Church of St Chad to The Collegiate Church of St. Mary. I started the walk with the traditional cross on the forehead with water from the holy well at St. Chad’s. I didn’t explode, so I’m fairly sure I’m not a vampire or a hellspawn.
The weather couldn’t make its mind up today and I’d had my raincoat on and off 3 times before I’d even left the starting point. After a couple of hours of stopping every 15 minutes to put my coat on as it started raining or take it off as the sun came out and I started to cook I decided I would just leave it and get wet. Every time I did that, of course, the rain would come down heavier or last longer and the coat would come out. Until 15 minutes later when the rain stopped and I started to poach in my jacket.
The first few hours were mostly uphill from Lichfield through Cross in Hand Lane, up the Side of Gentleshaw Common and on to Castle Ring, where I did a short Facebook Live Video
After all the rain the ground was damp and I had to take a detour around a flooded river walking into Stafford. By 2/3 through I was incredibly grateful I’d thought to pack backup shoes and multiple pairs of dry socks. I stopped at the Barley Mow for a “hydration break” and to change my footwear.
The route for last few hours passed along the side of the River Sow. However, this had greatly exceeded its natural banks so I had to follow a planned diversion for such occasions (unlike when I’d come along on my practice hike and just waded through shin-deep water).
So I came into Stafford shortly after that after about 8.5 hours and 47,000 steps. I was early enough to get to a shop and buy my self an extra backup paid of walking shoes, before booking into tonight’s B&B and going for dinner with my excellent support crew.
Throughout this walk I’m trying to raise awareness and, ultimately, funds for a Climate Emergency project run by some very good friends up in Great Bernera, Isle of Lewis. They’ve set aside half of their croft farm of carbon, offsetting, climate improvement and biodiversity projects.
Everyone’s familiar with the principle of “carbon offsetting”. If you do something with a large carbon footprint when why not help to fund a project that seeks to absorb that CO2 back into biomass (plants and trees). These guys do that in the form of a “Tree Treasury Certificate”. You give them £20 they will plant trees in the UK, not in some remote South-American location but in the UK. (and they’ll also use some of the money to fund additional tree planting in Brazil). They need to hit £15k of fundraising by 7pm on Sunday or none of the fundraising happens. Please, go buy a Tree Treasury Certificate and tell them I sent you. https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/carbonguilt
Preparations 1) anti-chaffing cream. Absolutely essential 2) Micropore and Gaffa Tape. For preventing blisters (is there any situation where Gaffa Tape can’t help) 3) Sunscreen. Possibly a little bit optimistic today.
I’m packed, ready for tomorrow. Time for an early night. I’m hoping to be starting at 7:15 tomorrow. The weather forecast has improved slightly. With luck, I won’t get soaked to the core in the first hour.
From Thursday 26th to (hopefully) Sunday 29th September I will be attempting to walk The Two Saints Way, a 93 mile, revived-pilgrimage from Lichfield to Chester.
Day 1 is a 20 mile walk from Lichfield to Stafford. The first 10 miles are mostly up-hill to Gentleshaw Common and Castle Ring then across the chase. With the last few miles following the River Sow (when I scoped this out it had burst it’s banks and was ankle deep in water). Day 2 is the hardest day. 23 miles from Stafford to Stoke-on-Trent. There are some very tough parts to this, particularly past the Duke of Sutherland’s Monument and “The King’s Walk” in to Trentham. Day 3 is the longest walk; 25 miles from Stoke-on-Trent to Nantwich. Day 4 is 24 miles from Nantwich to Chester. I’ve not scoped these sections out so they’ll be new to me. They are, I’m relieved to see, described as the easier sections of the walk in the guide that you can buy from http://www.twosaintsway.co.uk.
Phone / SMS / WhatsApp #: Message me on one of the above to ask.
In-person: COME JOIN ME!!! YAAASSS! Come and walk for an hour or two. If it’s at the end of the day we might even be able to sort transport back to your car.
I Need Your Help to do This
I’m not doing this walk for charity. I’m not going to ask you to sponsor me. But I am going to use it to promote a climate change mitigation and biodiversity project run by some very good friends of mine. And it needs your help. When I’m flagging on days 3 and 4 (or 30 minutes into day 1) this is what’s going to keep me going. The thought that it might encourage you to help fund this cause. For £20 you can have some trees planted, or fund the planting of hedges or be habitats in Great Bernera on the Isle of Lewis. Please take a look at https://bit.ly/carbonguilt
Saturday 22nd September 2018. A planned walk starting on an as-yet un-walked part of The Beacon Way.
Our original plan had been to catch the bus to St. Micheal’s Church in Rushall, however as we were running a little late due to a surprise hairdresser appointment, we hopped off early at the Labour Club and picked up The Beacon Way on Harden Road, where it crosses the disused South Staffordshire Line. https://goo.gl/maps/rVHbPSBHs662 We were then walking home, travelling The Beacon Way in reverse to our travels to date, up to The Finger Post and then along the path we had walked out and back last weekend.
The second surprise of the day was the free-roaming horses on this bit of land just off Harden Road. A few of them were tied but 5 or 6 were just wandering free, in an urban “park” (for want of a better word).
The BW travels longs the Western edge of this parkland up to the Goscote Sewer works, where it turns left and heads up the to the Wyrley and Essington Canal. Navigation for the 7km is easy, The BW just follows the canal until The Coppice Industrial Estate by Clayhanger.
The day was miserable and it drizzled the whole afternoon/evening. Just enough to keep us slightly damp and glad of our hat/hood but not enough to get us soaked.
When we got to Pelsall North Common, though, we had a change of mind. After a quick cider at The Fingerpost pub, we decided we’d take a different route home. We’d already walked the rest of The BW that would take us home. So we went a couple of hundred yards back up the canal to the start of “The Cannock Branch” https://goo.gl/maps/gHMMmywPhm22 and walked up that branch toward Norton Canes.
Unfortunately, this was when Sharon’s Fibro kicked in and she was in pain for the rest of the walk. We stopped at The Toby Carvery at the Turf island and tried to order her a taxi with no success, so we took the most direct route home through Little Norton, up to Chasewater and across Norton Bog.
Including stops, the walk took us about 4.5 hours. We walked about 15km / 9 mile.