With the empty feeling that the Coast to Coast was definitely over my thoughts, mainly sweary ones, turned to my next big event: The Thames Path Challenge. A 100km charity walk from Bishop’s Park, Fulham, to Henley-on-Thames along, yup, you guessed, the Thames Path. Although I had four weekends to train once I was back, I considered that having trekked 190 miles across fells, dales and vales, I deserved a weekend off. That left three weeks, one of which was a bank holiday: the possiblities were clearly endless!
Lindsey and I had set aside the 19th August for a night walk along the path starting from work and ending up a suitable distance away having gained some experience of walking in the dark. Everything seemed so simple: Lindsey had planned a 22 mile walk to Walton-on-Thames and we knew the time of the last train (23:46) in order to get back home in time without having to sleep rough. But something didn’t quite make sense: the London Day walk from Blackfriars to Richmond was 16 miles; our new starting point was two miles further east back down the trail and the shortcut missing out the river’s meander between Richmond and Walton-on-Thames was seven 7 miles in itself. I couldn’t see us making it to our destination in time for our last train anymore than me flying home on a broomstick afterwards. On the plus side, my mildly irritating childish tantrums throughout the day forced Lindsey to check the route again and discover that she had calculated the distance from Putney and not Shad Thames so we decided on finishing at Richmond!
Apart from getting a tad sodden in the first 25 minutes due to unnecessarily wet rain and getting lost slightly as we were forced off the Thames Path at Wandsworth, it was a pretty uneventful walk along trails we were already familiar with. We did discover that the Thames Path is dark at night; that our head torches were woefully inadequate; cyclists are shouldn’t put red lights on the front of their bikes (although to be honest, along with all right minded individuals, we probably knew that already); my legs are so used to hills, they hurt when I walk on the flat and that, unlike Cornflakes which I have never been particularly fond of, I had forgotten how good Young’s Special tasted.
The following weekend gifted me the luxury of three days off with the August Bank Holiday on me before I knew it. Unfortunately, with so much choice of what to do, I panicked and just did the ten mile Mountnessing March on the Monday. Excitingly though, I walked past Mountnessing Windmill and took a photo off it just to prove it. Even more excitingly, I did the exact same walk the following and final weekend before the big event just to keep my foot in.
And so there it is: only a few days to go before the start of a 100km, 62 mile, walk in aid of Demelza Hospice Care for Children. We are registered and I have many, many Thames Path Challenge related freebies from the organisers. The only decision now is whether I can pull off not turning up on Saturday and still managing a working relationship with Lindsey afterwards. I suppose it’ll be okay if I don’t go for eye contact!