One of the most difficult challenges I will face on the walk is getting up the day after a long trek and doing another one immediately.
For the Easter weekend I went on holiday with my family, in some small huts, in the middle of nowhere. It was a perfect place to test out the back-to-back walking.
On the Saturday I plotted a small route around the surrounding villages and towns, to meet up in Long Itchington at the pub, a good as stopping point as any.
On route there were plenty of different path types to get my feet in shape, from country roads, to dusty trails, knobbly mud paths, and routes through farmer’s fields.
I arrived first in Ufton, a rather small village on a main road, with a quaint church on the top of the hill. A brief rest at a bench, and it was off again from the country roads and through a fields and a path that ran through a small wood, filled with bluebells.
The next town was Southam, and it really was a town, rather large and the magic of English countryside lost to the all too familiar high street chains.
Not much further it was Long Itchington, which stretched from the canal (where one can take in a nice beer at the Two Boats, a small, traditional pub, with a range of ales and other drinks) to the centre of town where a modern gastro-pub (full of expensive, but very nice foreign lagers and the usual ciders) sits opposite a more local country pub, filled with locals of course (a more traditional fare of familiar chain ales and lagers, but a nice and comfy pub nonetheless).
The men and the women of the family split up at this point, as we were coaxed into another local pub, for another drink, before we ambled home, following a small river, but missing our turning back to the site. We were left with three options: circle back round to the bridge, press on following the river to a main road, or attempting to cross the river. My uncle and younger brother decided the latter was for them, as the group split once more, we believed our journey would be longer, but a little less wet. To our surprise, we ended up being back at the lodgings first, and only through video footage, and seeing the two return covered head-to-toe in water, did we find out that the river crossing was a little more fraught than they anticipated, with my uncle falling head-over-heels into the river.
My uncle, Neil, by the way, lives in Lincoln, and I will be staying with him, and attempting not to be led astray whilst he treks the first day of the walk with me.
From the route below, you can see that I racked up a rather hefty walk, still shy of the actual days of the walk itself, but climbing steadily.
The second day was a little less action-packed than the first, and I was accompanied for the whole walk with the family. It was circuit of sorts that went through the small, and lovely villages just north of where were staying. However, the distinct lack of pubs up this way meant that we went to the Red Lion in Hunningham twice en route. A modern take on countryside pubs, it wasn’t quite a gastro-pub. It did serve a lot of local beers and ciders and was a warm and comfortable place with friendly staff. It was only a shame that the rain set in on the second day, as it was situated next to a river and the outside seating looked rather nice.
We struggled back after our second stop in the pub and to home. Another day, of similar length to the first, and I am starting to feel a lot more confidence in my feet. With no blisters, but a little soreness in my bones, it feels as though keeping my feet in decent shape will be the key for surviving the whole ordeal.
Another week of rest, and it’s time to put some serious mileage in next weekend.