Saturday, 8 June 2013

A catch up on last month and The Ridgeway (again!)

A long break from blogging, here is a quick(ish) update of the events since my last post.

Apart from my excellent Easter week in Devon and Cornwall, getting out and about for some regular multi-day walking hasn't been top of the agenda lately. I have been continuing to focus on the weight loss, though, but with a couple of slips I have yet to achieve the 11 stone goal I set myself.

It's not been an easy few weeks as my dodgy shoulder has curtailed any alternative exercise to walking, but I have had a physio appointment, and I've got a follow up next week. Despite this niggle, I have managed to shed 36lbs (16.3kg) since Christmas. A steady loss, with a couple of spikes on the progress graph, all my dedication has paid off! It's incredible to think that for all these years I have been carrying around the weight of a 16kg rucksack BEFORE I strap on another 16-20kg more to head out to the hills!

I have begun planning my Spring and Summer trips in a very positive frame of mind. An understandable lack of spare leave means the best I'm going to be able to manage is long weekends utilising the bank holidays, and some time in lieu, to get brief multi-day treks under my belt. At the most, those trips are only going to last three days, so not ideal, but I'll have to work with that.

The May Day Bank Holiday was first up, and my chosen route was a familiar friend; The Ridgeway National Trail. Accompanied by Diane, we caught an early Saturday morning train from West Drayton to Swindon and then hopped on a bus to Avebury.


Early rain soon dissipated and we were treated to some glorious weather along the 45 mile route to the half way point at Goring and Streatley, camping at Ogbourne St. George on the first night and at Court Hill Activity Centre, near Wantage on the second. Spring had finally come to the UK and it proved to be an ideal opportunity for me to try out the Aqua Quest Single Hooped Bivy, as an option for my Bibbulmun adventure. Click Here to see how I got on with it.

I have to say, I had never felt fitter than I did on this walk! With my weight handicap removed, the trail was challenging, but never out of my comfort level. At no point did I stop to catch my breath on the ups; it all seemed pretty easy going and if time allowed, I would have happily gone on to finish the trail. I returned home feeling pretty pleased at the 45 miles we walked in 3 days carrying about 11kg.

With a three week gap, and a nasty gastric virus that wiped me out for a week, the next trip seemed in  the balance for a few days. Diane and I returned to Streatley to complete the second half, this time accompanied by Jim.


Sadly Jim took a stray bullet in the knee (or something like it) near Lodge Hill midway through the second day, and by the time we reached Wendover Station at the end of the day, we waved him off to convalesce back at home.


Having reached our destination for the second night, we were late and the buses had stopped running a couple of hours ago, so Diane and I were left with little option but to catch a taxi to the nearest campsite, at the end of the trail, in Ivinghoe. The exorbitant cab fare meant we were loathed to order a return journey the next morning, and with it being a bank holiday, we also had no means of returning to Wendover. So it was decided to walk the route in reverse.

The Monday morning was a cracker, we were afforded great views of Aylesbury Vale from our campsite, and the good weather saw us on our way by 8.30am.




A steep footpath found to the beacon, we were soon at the top for a commerative photo of the end.


Pic taken, it was now a small matter of 12 miles to officially finish.


Each look back served as a reminder of the direction we should be going.


However, the improvised route turned out to be a great option. No faffing at the end, getting to Ivinghoe to wait for an infrequent bus service. Instead, we walked straight into the Red Lion at Wendover, ordered some lunch and an ale, before catching our train an hour later.

So that is me up to date! We really were spoilt over these two bank holiday weekends! No doubt it will be too much to ask for next weekends outing to the Star Inn Beer Festival, in the Brecon Beacons, to be blessed with similar weather. We can but hope!