Monday, 31 May 2010

Day 41 tain to gospie

Day 41 Tain to Gospie

What was meant to be a shorter day was voluntarily extended to 29.4km. Upon leaving Tain, I was to join up with the A9, this is to be the main source of road to take me up the North East Scottish coast.
After consultation with last nights host, there was an option of getting off the A9, only shortly after joining it and crosssing the Dornoch Firth by means to the recently opened bridge (1991). Following the bridge, there was a descent down the bank, which lead to a track and road leading to Dornoch

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Day 40 Dingwall to Tain

Having arrived at the Tain, I have now completed the the west to east coast to coast, five days now left to completing the south to north coast to coast. Today's was a hard 38.1km, for some reason since leaving the Great Glen Way, I have been tried during walking, not necessary physically, but have just wanted to close my eyes. Extreme measures necessary in Alness to with a strong coffee in a pub followed by a tin of Red Bull. This I was going to purchase in the pub until told the cost, purchasing over the road at a supermarket was half the cost.
Now I am back on the roads, the poles have come into play, particuary the one with the hi vis flag, to warn oncoming traffic of my presence. Yesterday, this help attracted the attention of a motor cyclist who past me dragging a bag on the floor behind him. As he passed I waved the flag until he stopped a few hundred yards on. As I approached he had dismounted and was just scratching his head on how he was going to put it back on. A thanks would have been nice but the ignorance sod hardly recognised my existence even though when he pulled over he looked back to understand the issue. Wish I hadn't bothered, even when he passed later, no nod of recognition.
I have now had plenty of time to develop differing techniques with my poles and also use them for differing fun activities to help the miles pass.
On the technique front, there are several style of use, activity, like the downhill ski two poles together, the individual co-ordinated with foot going down, or the harder uncoordinated style. Then these were to put the poles when not in used (excluding motorcyclist body parts), these the downhill mid position or for the extreme look downhill tucked in under elbows, or on the rucksack. Hours of fun.
Talking fun, poles sports I have been developing include dandelion head golf, where you smack the heads of dandelions. My best score so far is a 4 under par round on the A82.
Finally there's spearing insects to compile a insect kebab, which can be heated and eaten later, I'm currently struggling with the flies and getting them speared. The slugs and snails are easy, but not as tasty (kids don't try this at home, eventhough it'll probably be taster than your mum's cooking)
One final note on my poles, they are lite weight carbon ones, which has 3 benefits, lightweight, the don't conduct lighting, so I can dry clothes on them during a thunderstorm and finally, they're my carbon offset.
Onto today's walk, mostly dry, one shower and sun at the end. Russ the hero, rescued a lamb stuck between two fences, and like the motorcyclist, the lamb didn't say thank you either. Lamb shank tonight me thinks.
Saw horses being used on the land, say a classical car rally twice, half way throught walk and at end. And met a bloke who recommend a different way back throught mountains by car, he said, "it'll make you want to shout", I know exactly what he means, I've been shouting (and singing loud) for the last six weeks. What a great land, you just have to open your eyes.
Had to take picture of road sign as they look like there walking with poles (I know its eldly people, but this sign was in the middle of nowhere, I even had to interupt a telephone conversation with ma and pa to take it, it seemed to fit in with what I was thinking about-a bit of lateral thinking required)

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Day 39 Drumnadrochit to Dingwall

What a difference a week makes, from the glorious sun of last week to the rain they've been promising for the last few days. Even then the day started off brightish, and I though great the weather forecasters got it wrong again. It lasted like this to 11.30 when a little drizzle gradually turned into a steadier flow, but still within the capabilities of my trusty umbrella.
I'd been road walking all morning with fantastic views and then walking through the town of Beauly and the Muir of Ord, I'd been lucky enough to have a pavement. This is good for two reasons, firstly, it gets me slightly away from traffic and because of this I can listen to music. Something I'd had no restriction on for the last few days. As I was saying pavement is good, but just out of the second town, it disappeared and the grass verge returned. It was at this point, that almost 6 weeks exactly into the walk the heavens opened. Gore tex would have to come to the rescue both both me and my umbrella, who were both being drowned by the monsoon that had been building up over the last 6 weeks.
Whilst climbing into my matching gore tex outfit, getting as much cover from an old oak as possible, I saw a stream, turn into a flowing river in the gutter of the road infront of my very eyes. Such an event is not usually significant, apart from when you have to walk the next 6 miles hoping between the road and gutter, avoiding walking in the larger collections of water (puddles) or being by one when a speedy car approaches, and sending a crashing wave in your direction. Two hours of dodge the water, made the walk pass surprisingly fast. But I think all thing considered I lost.
Still 6 weeks of generally dry weather, I can't complain.
Having told my hosts last night that I would be having breakfast at 7.45, (this is my usual time, which generally sees me walking by 8.30) I woke, having not heard either alarm or their repeated snoozes at 8.30, having oversleeped. Even after a rushed breakfast, I was not walking to 9.30, despite this I arrived into my B&B at 16.30, in drowned rat mode having covered the 33.9km in 7 hours. This is the B&B which was rearranged, due to the one I'd booked with going away, all was well until I realised no picture on the TV and tonight being Dr Who night and Eurovision Song Contest. Panic over, I'm now in a different room with picture, TV heaven.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Day 38 Loch Ness to Drumnadrochit

The final walk up Loch Ness was a short walk of only 18.8km, however it all started with a long climb up the side of a hill, which seem to last forever.
Food arrangements today are similar to yesterday, with only a cereal ber for break, a break for a Mars bar at 10.30. Upon reaching Drumnadrochit, I settled on a pub light lunch and a Pot Noodle later, those noodles seem to be becoming a greater part of my diet, having had one the last 3 days.
Have now learnt to pronounce the town's name properly, something I've been struggling with since putting the plans together and particularly embarrassing when phone to book accommodation, its pronounced drum-na-drocket and no chit at the end.
This is the town were all my aspirations for walking end to end started. When walking the route previously in 2004, one of the group mentioned she was doing the walk over a length of time linking long distance paths together, I thought what a brilliant idea, and there started my similar scheme, linking paths over time. Having completed probably 50% to date, (Minehead to Inverness minus a few locations in Lancashire and South Scotland). This opportunity has previously been blogged so no need to go into that again.
That explains the how, but not the why?
Onto beard watch, it seems to have stopped growing this last week. Now debating at what stage it should come off, options are:- night before I finish, so the photo at end is clean shaved, when I get home, so photo at end is a far representation of the walk or not at all and continue to grow it, at least for a short time. I'm with the third at present.
RSPB might have something to say as I've a pair of breeding Ospreys in it at the moment.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Day 37 Lagan to Loch Ness

Before I forget like yesterday, 31.4km, yesterday and 32.6km today. Well sitting here in the YHA beside Loch Ness, no sign of Nessie though. It just started raining and hailing and beside the odd shower the first significant rain of the day. The doom and gloom forecast never materialised, most of the day once again was in sun, albeit cooler than recent.
Once again away from any significant habitation, and no meals served, so I considered utilising my developing survival knowledge watching Bear Grylis and I'm a celebrity and living off the land, only problem was a lack of choice and the slug the only option, not even a bit of lettuce to go with it.
After long consideration and a lack of salt to go with the slug, I opted for Fish and Chips in Fort Augustus at lunchtime. Beside the canal and locks.
Further developments on the walkers of the Great Glen, there all European and mostly German, but a breakthrough today, they responded back and conversation occurred. After consideration I think they must have heard I'd be able to speak German by now from the language course I was meant to be learning from, so was waiting for me to greet them in German. However, this was not needed for those who spoke today, a single lad camping and taking his time from Glasgow and two young ladies, just doing the Glen.
Back to walking solo, I am back to the loud singing to my MP3 player and letting my mind go and general watching it all flow past me. Another observation is I'm the fastest thing on the trial, nothing seem to pass me, but I seem to fly past other, is this a result of the new level of fitness built up over the last 5.5 weeks, or cause I stink so much people slow down and let me past, the clothes pegs on their noses might be a give away.
Got. Trouser story developing as the next piece of kit I'm having issues with, will go into detail in a future blog, once it settles down.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Day 36 Fort William to Laggan

Now back on earth after some excusion to some sort of spaceship, (maybe that's why the rest day flew by so fast?) made good progress today arriving at South Laggan at 14.45. Followed this early arrival with what was meant to be a quick quip, but woke at 15.30 feeling more groggy than ever. (Excuse for blog quality tonight, I haven't one for other days)
Made my way down to the Great Glen Water Park (not a slide in sight) for dinner as the boat with a restuarant at the beginning of the Laggan stretch of the Caledonian Canal is closed to all for a private function, good job there's somewhere else to eat, otherwise I'd be cooking the food on offer at the hostel. (choices of pastas - yukk!!!)
Like the WHW, I have previously done the Great Glen Way, back in 2004, but once again I must have done it with my eyes closed, not looking back, to the sides or front, instead looking down at the floor, cause last time I can not remember this stretch being memorable, but it certainly was today. Mind you, last time we arrived in at around 18.00, dripping wet, plus I had to put up with Clive all day.
Today had the views and for the most of it knew what I was looking at, but I thing which stood out was, in comparison to the WHW last week where everyone seemed welcoming and willing to chat, today I seemed to get little in return for my greetings. Noticeably, last week most the where either, American, Canadian, New Zealand or Scots, today has been €uropeans. Will monitor this hypothesis over the next few days.
Other observations of the canal are its size in comparison to all others I've seen apart from the Mancester Ship Canal, lack of dogs and owners and so far no rain. The later looks like it might change tomorrow.
One other thing pasted today, whist walking up Neptunes Staircase, a set of locks at the beginning of the canals was the bollard, which I attempted to sit on 2 days ago whilst phoning my wife. These are domed and painted on shiny, slippy white gloss paint, the outcome being me sliding off with full pack on and ending up in a heap on the floor. Other local to me looked on in bewilderment and I just burst out laughing

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Rest day 4 (know picture is out of synch-come on what to you expect)

Star date 25052310, 300 years in the future, when a deep space time hole creates adnormal deep space conditions

The crew of the star ship enterprise under the stewardship to Captain James T Kirk go about their usual duties.
Down in the transported room, Engineer Scottie has just beamed up a being. Upon seeing what has been beamed up, he summonsed the Captain and Science Office to the Transporter Room.
Kirk, "what is it, do we know"
Scottie, "no idea Captain, scanners says its been extracted from 21st Century Earth".
Kirk, "why does it smell so much"
Spock, "if I may, interject Captain, that's sweat, otherwise known as BO, a complaint that humans used to suffer from before sweat glands were made obsolete in humans , Captain"
Scottie, " well it don't arf smell nice, that what a engineer in an hot engine room should smell like".
Kirk and Spock both look to Scottie with initial disbelief, then accepting his origins from a country that did not show England matches, they understood a certain Scottish quirkiness.
"Captain", said Spock "we need to get Dr McCoy to look at him"
"Yes Spock", opening up comms on the console, Kirk summons 'Bones' the ships doctor to transfer the being to the medical deck.

Later after the medical assessment, Kirk and Spock go to the med deck in those get evevators they have on the Enterprise, where they find 'Bones' by the being.
Seeing the two enter, he addresses them in his usual 'outstanding' medical manner.
"Well Jim, it human, just. By the look of it, he, a fine specimen of a male, has just encountered a sustained period od physical activity"
"You mean like walking, how primitive, has he no Transporter where he comes from"
Jim, says Bones, "his like us, human, from Earth, around 2010AD. God knows how he got transported"
"Continue with the assessment"
"Well I'd say his covered 710 miles, walking, feet in good condition, non of those water blister thingies they used to have. Legs, showing a slight trauma to the shin areas and other muscle slight aches"
The Vulcan called Spock interrupts "Generally in good shape then, do you feel he could continue say another 190 miles"
"Undoubtedly" replies Bones
" And the rest of him" says Kirk
"Great shape physically, shoulder sore and slight abrasions to the torso, great skins colour must have been exposed to the star thet call the sun, notice the top of his head is particularly glowing"
Just then uhura, the only female on the deck's management team came in to delivery Kirk, a message, but upon seeing this great human specimen lying on the table, she completely loses any decorum, her legs turn to jelly, and is left a wreck for the remainder of her trekking days.
Getting back to the assessment, Kirk instructs Spock, to complete a Vulcan mind probe.
"But Captain, if there is any mental weakness there it might be enough to push him over"
The Vulcan mind probe is administered with apinch to the top of the spine.
"Well Spock"
"He's been on an isolated rollercoaster of emotions, but mental reasonably stable, but hey, this guys smart, high IQ, intelligent, whitty, 'what a guy' " (sorry that's from red dwarf, mixing the sci fi shows), but yeap good to go.
"Right then lets return him to, the co-ordinate, where we picked him up from" Kirk instructs.
Having just picked him up from Fort William, Scotland, home of the GB's highest mountain, Scottie made sure that the insertion back into 21st Century existence, did not mistakenly drop him on top, That would have completely knackered his knees coming down.
His clothes are washed, his hair cut.

And they all lived happily ever after.

These are the views, dredged from the deep psyche of the author. Any resemblance to any person is purely by accident.
No harm or distress is intended............

Monday, 24 May 2010

Day 35 Kinlocheven to Fort William

Weather today has been a repeat of the last few days, of cloudy and drizzly to start, with a gradual dispersal of the cloud throughout the day ending in perfect sunshine at the end. This resulted in outstanding, clear views of Ben Nevis from all angles as we descended into Fort William. I say we as for the forth day I have walked with Blair, my New Zealand Police spy. Been on best behaviour apart from the theft of orange juice and toast from all accommodation, and the old dose of spicy language, particularly today on seeing the destruction of the forestation leading into Fort William.
Regarding this, I had visions of a point on my previous exclusion on the WHW when on the last day after suffering with an issue with my foot that I launched, yes launched into a run up between a column of trees, not to stop (poetic license) until Fort William, some 10km later.
I was looking forward to this column of trees, I had a visual representation burn into my memory, which I looked forward to revisiting. The image was shattered as all around the area had been environmentally vandalised, with trees chopped down and the landscape left savaged. The columns no more than stumped, my mental memories shattered.
This has really left a bitter taste in what has been a great walk, how it been allowed to happen?
Upon entry to Fort William and the required photo's by the sign at the end of the walk, emotions were mixed. Usually the end of the physical challenge and the start of personal celebrations of ones achievement, this was just a shift of one stage of the walk into another, albeit the penultament (know its wrong - but no alternative options offered on smell cheque) stage along the Great Glen and Loch Ness.
Accomplishment was toasted in with a large hot chocolate speciality with cream and marshmallows. I have recently been becoming more aware of how I can store food with my beard, not always a voluntary action, but later I find all kinds of remnants of previous meals, and mixed they become quite a differing taste sensation, never repeated and always different. Interested to find how tonight's sweet and sour chicken mixes with the mars bars and peanuts, yummy, sound like a great supper later on.
Tonight I have come across a major flaur in my planning, they don't broadcast England games, particularly those with are practising for a World Cup that Scotland haven't qualified in Scotland. So no footy tonight for Russ, should I have walked north to south to allow for this, I'll let you know tomorrow when I know the result.
One final observation tonight. I have notice a increasing level of comments made on my beard and its colouring. I'll just make people aware on how's its been fashioned. Some might think it has a "Malan's" grey streak (remember that old TV series), but no, it takes "stripe" out of the gremlins film and his central grey hair stripe as its inspiration.
Mileage today was 31.2km

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Day 34 Ineroran to Kinlocheven

By quick estimations I must have gone through the 700 mile mark, or close to it, leaving 200 to do in the remaining days. Just one more day now before my next and final rest day. I certainly need it to catch up with cleaning duties, me and all my clothing is "humming". Its all neutral to my nose, but with the heat off recent days, I must really be fragrant when I arrive at a town at the end of a day. This last week has been helpful that at least I'm not the only one, with all the other whw walkers.
Well today completed a 31.9km legs other the highest point of the whole way. Devil's Staircase is the climb out of Glen Coe, the sight of the Macdonald's massacre, for those who know their Scottish history. There is a steep 270 meter climb, but views, like the whole day are stunning, with +1000m mountains and the bleak Rannock Moor.
A regular activity as well as taking a sample of orange for my days walk, is taking a round of toast, which usually gets eaten at 11.30. Today, whilst resting on a bridge, eating my toast a team of American's can through, in groups of 2-3, I usually greet and have a quick chat as they pass through, the the last group, a lad and girl, stopped and the lad thought I had prepared the toast their, middle of nowhere, (definitely no electricity) with a toasted sandwich maker. Found out later, they're all students at Glasgow University - ummm?
Today I met up with another End to Ender called Patrick, he is making his way day the country zig zagging from one side to the other. I was the first that he had meet up with, and he chased back when he found out to have a chat, as I had headphones on he almost made me jump out my skin, when he suddenly appeared.
No trouble at the hotel last night, had a great sleep after Dr Who, the Euro Cup Final, a Daily Milk bar and shortcake biscuits, what a receipt for bliss. To long from civilisation?

Day 33 Inveranan to Inveran

Last night at the Drover's was a mixture of good and bad.
Following Eddie Izzard, I've done the cold baths, now it was time to repeat the carb intake to get energy for the follow day with the boiled potatoes, certainly didn't work for me either, didn't make me fly either. Besides that the meal was good.
On the bad side, the Drover's lay entertainment on, to bloody one o'clock in the morning. If I'd thought the Queen's hotel was loud, late, then the Drover's trumped them. Lying I bed trying to sleep was impossible with all that noise, whats up with pubs that also think their accommodation providers, they certainly fail the later.
Endedup listening to my Mp3 player, at least had my choice of music.
Hopefully I'll sleep tonight, certainly felt it on my 33.3km walk today in the sun and heat of the day.
Given the heat, I repeated paddling in a stream to cool down, an activity I hadn't done since Cornwall and the temps I had there. The stream, a few mile before the Bridge of Orchy, was the place we'd stopped prevoiusly on the whw, were when leaving last time, I'd climb a stile, when then gate next to the stile was wide open.
Another day with company whist walking and lots of contact with walkers of all nationalities, all welcoming and very talkative, will certainly miss it when I move away from the long distance paths.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Porridge factory just for dad

Day 32 Rowardennan to Inverarnan

21.7km's of excellent Long Distance Path walking. Leaving the YHA this morning, the course of the walk followed the east side up Loch Lomond. Progress was slow due to conditions under foot. Those who know the West highland way will appreciate the slower speed over rocks and tree stumps, however time was never an issue.
I have mentioned before the Police's proximity to my walk, throughout. Never being far away, now they've sent undercover police in to follow me and check thing out. To be cunning, they've disguised the fact future by making he a different nationality. What am I on about? Well, yesterday arriving at the YHA early, I starting talking to a lad from New Zealand, we ended up together at the pub last night and doing the walk together today. His job, a policeman, coincidence?
Seriously, having company has made today fly by, usually at some point when walking alone, I thing about the blog entry, today, I sat down for the first time not knowing what to type.
Steve, a couple days ago was saying all the people he was due to meet up with, as he heads south, but with the exception of the great walk into Taunton, with Helen and the final couple hours into Drymen with the Canadian ladies, my walk has been a solo affair. It's amazing how it flies past with company. Graham mentioned it in a recent comment, I'd met up with Graham when I was doing Offa's Dyke and he was on his End to End walk and his so right.
One other memory jogged today was the pain I suffered last time walking the WHW, the arch in my right foot was incredibly painful, painkillers provided by Sharon, helped me through. Thank God, no such hardship this time.
Staying at the Drover's Inn tonight, full of old character, fittings, cobwebs and ghosts.
(no one told me I'd jumped a day in my blog headings at Kendal, thats why todays is 32 again - I'll have to renumber the others when I get back0

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Day 31 Drymen to Rowardennan

A short day and hence short blog entry. Only 17km's today, the first of two shorter days, deliberately inserted due to the next full rest day being at Fort William, another 4 days off, and a week and a bit since the last. After leaving Drymen at 9.30, I was in the Rowardennan Hotel bar (Row) at 13.00, will eat there tonight, as staying at Row YHA. Speaking of evening meals, last nights at Drymen with Steve was great, never stopped chatting, certaining a change from lots of the other (on own) nights. Steve has now headed off south and me north walking in each others foot steps, well certainly today for Steve and the rest of the walk for me. Walk across a field of cows this morning and they stayed well away, I was just ready to start clapping, had they come. I noticed recently no dog events, although last night I got stared out by 2 dobermans, they definately won, but no snappy dogs. My theory is the dogs here are scared of the wolves, so keep quite, with let you know if I see a wolf instead.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Day 30 glasgow to drymen

Today, was just a great day, despite the sun never appearing once and it being hot, steamy and sticky. The stay in Glasgow, had been a pleasant one, well above expectations. Had a great meal by the YHA, the YHA itself had surprises, such a a shower en suite, although I only found that out after searching all floors of the hostel, then embarrassingly asking at reception. Had my first continental breakfast on the trip, cheese and ham croissants, more of those to follow at the remaining Scottish YHA's. Leaving the hostel through the cities "west end" is really nice, rows of Georgian properties made it a delight and I was soon well on my way to Milgreive, start of the West Highland Way (WHW). En route, stopping off at asda,s to replenish stocks and i just had to borrow a better means of shifting my rucksack. I was stopped exiting the car park and told to take the trolley back? So enter the next stage of the walk, finished was southern Scotland and here's a part I've partically been looking forward to. Of the roads for two weeks and into the country and mountains. Starting the walk, once again I was in isolation, most start on Saturday. Also having walked up from Glasgow it was now 11.00, others would be well on their ways. Memories of its of the walk returned, having done it some 8 years ago, but after the last days, it was so pleasing to the eye. Walking with a renewed bounce, I came across a group from Canada, doing the walk, a group who I finish the day with walking into Drymen. I can not recall whether I have mentioned Steve before, but after I started the walk, my wife had mentioned another person, Steve, from Redditch was in the paper walking the other way. I noted that we both were in Drymen today, so after contacting him, via his blog we arranged to meet in drymen. Steve, had arrived early and couldn't get into his room, so was sitting in the pub. I just had to meet up with steve, and for the first time this walk ended up having a pint before the end of the walk. Steve and I immediately exchanged stories and experiences and the following hour flew. Meeting later to continue. My B&B madness has occured again. Dingwall, where I'm staying on the 29th, phoned up as I was leaving Glasgow to explain how although taking the booking, she will not now be there. Would I like her to make an alternative booking? I explain where I was and I had neither desk or pen to write anything down that it would be good if she could and text me the info. Text, she said, I can't do that (scottish accent) so her son will tonight, I hope. What gets me is we have enter a mutual contact, I know that cause I've done contract law in my A Level Law, if I don't turn up, I have to pay, yet they can change their minds. Arrrrrrrhhhhhhh! It really has been a great day and a wonerful 32.0km,s.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Day 29 Larkhall to Glasgow

Arrived at Glasgow YHA after a pretty un eventful walk of 27.6km. Arriving early at 2.45 has given an opportunity to do some laundry activities, as well as visiting an Outdoor Shop on the way to buy some replacement kit, which has worn out. Looking at the soles of my Asics trainers, I am having doubts on their longity and whether they'll make it to the end, as they've had a punishing last week. Will switch more to my Berghaus boots up the West Highland and Great Glen Ways. Whilst least looking forward to this of all the days walks, it has no been, that bad. Little other than usual cityscape sights. Walking through the central street was certainly a change to the isolated walks of recent. Some of the fashion statements, were different. But did meet up with my mate the motorway at the end, although he has changed into his m8 guise, that winds its way through the city. I'd had a lie in this morning, usually I breakfast at 7.45, and on the road at 8.30, but this morning I wanted to give the kids chance to get to school and off the streets before starting to walk. The plan worked well as I didn't have to put up with any of the cheek that had welcomed me into Larkhall, the day earlier. This was not a great problem, but you just have to ignore them, regardless of what they comment.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Day 28 abington to larkhall

Today's mileage was 34.6km

Day 28 Abington to Larkhall

The final road of the day into Larkhall, was unpaved and the fast traffic reminded me of the walk from Church Minshull a few weeks ago, albeit straighter. Along the road the view suddenly widened and view of Ben Lomond and Conic Hills were a feast for my eyes. Unfortunately, the urban mass of Glasgow is ahead of progressing to the start of the West Highland Way. Leaving Abington Services the roads had well paved areas away from the road itself, which made for very pleasant walking, the views were improved also by the route moving away from the Motorway, you couls say prefect bar one thing, the litter. All along this pictures route, was litter some thrown from passing cars, but lots dumped as mounds of stuff were left to rot. Washing machines, fridge's a chest freezer and a caravan (the last could have been destroyed by Top Gear, given their history) were all observed. A real pity. Through Blackhall, the pavement suddenly deteriorated to being lethal for ankles injuries, I spent all my time looking at the floor finding a way through the assault course I found in front. This only after a short time, speaking to someone regarding how this whole adventure could be halted by such an injury. I was taking no chances. Prior to the paving episode, I walk walking when a lady, exited her car and went to a roadside bench, sat on it and returned to her car and drove off just as I arrived. Seeing her move I'd though, given the fact this was the first bench and I was due a rest that I would use it to sit. Next, a van pulled up and two workers got out, thinking they were going to do something in the road I ignore them. Suddenly they were on my shoulder asking me to move my bag as they had a plaque to secure to the bench. Whist doing so, I questioned the use of different screws and how level the plaque was, but I think this went over their heads, or they were being polite and just didn't understand me. The plaque read second chance 2010 -they did not know what that meant either, nor do I. Finally, forgot to mention yesterday bumping into my second end to end walker, a young lad named Sam, having walked 16 days to that point. I'd seen him and chatted about 14.30, he was targeting Beattock, where I'd set off from, so wasn't due to finish until 19.00

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Day 27 Beattock to Abington

Today started off the same as the previous, with a walk along the B7076, however, the scenery had taken a dramatic turn for the good. The previous day, largely on the flat was replaced by developed views of the Southern Lowlands. Once again the constant companions were there, including the electrical pylons which seemed to interfere and ruin every good photo opportunity. There was an addition to the crew today. A river joined in the fight for the space as all progressed up the valley, progressively ascend to the to of Beattoch Summit. The river didn't make it, it veered off to the lh side but all the other plaited there way up. The rail line sometime of the left and the driving under the road and appearing on the right. With little distance covered, there was a new noise appearing, louder than the droning motorway, a kinds "crunch, crunch" noise. What could it be, it was lond before I sussed out the source, suddenly, around my feet appeared mass of snail, very colourful ones as well. It was difficult to see who was the slower, them or me. Glasgow being my target, theirs being "god only knows", as they were heading in all directions. Some making a mad dash across the road between cars. It was then I started my dance, trying to avoid them, to anyone watching this must may been a sight. Some of those dashing snails might have actually made it, as the frequency of cars a this point was once every half hour or so, most of these being police (keeping their eyes on me again, I suspect). This changed later in the day, but with ever frequent waves of motorbikes. It was just after the snails that it happened, today's little event. Well you could say it started over breakfast if root cause is really to be understood. Each day I am accompanied to breakfast with my Sigg bottle. The fruit juice which comes with breakfast is emptied into my bottle, to be drunk in the afternoon. Some place just offer a glass, other help yourself. This morning was the later, so I had a nice healthy quantity stored. Only in my rush to avoid the eyes of the owners, the lid had become cross threaded. It was in this state that it was placed into my rucksack. Climbing higher, the cool air under the dark cloud which never dispensed their rain, made me change from a fleece top to a top with wind resistance. At this point the rucksack, tilted from upright and the contents, nice sticky orange juice was emptied into my rucksack. The commotion, swearing, emptying of bag and pouring the juice out I won't go into in details but the resultant sticky mess was back on my back in 10 minutes. One objective now, get to the Abington Services, were I was staying and wash the lot. All contents inside the rucksack are stowed in waterproof and orange juice proof sacks which helps, but these would need cleaning. So here I am, got in from the 30.8km wall at 15.15, good timing as I'd only had one break. Washing completed, motel room looks like Window Twankies Laundrette (Aladdin), but sticky mess sorted. Lesson learnt, which should have been learnt after the last fluid spillage, (I could work for BP after the amount I've spilt) is check and recheck those fluid tops.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Day 26 Eccelfechan to Beattock

Well 4 weeks after leaving Land's End, I find myself in Beattock at the foot of the Southern Uplands. It is those Uplands which have been the main feature to look at today, although they did not come in view properly until three quarters the way into the walk. For the first three quarters there was little to view, the B7076 never more than 100m from the M74, and the constant drone of traffic was a companion. Of the 4 weeks walk to date, visually it was probably the worst, with a lot of sameness. The weather, with the exception of one sharp shower, was ideal walking weather, being bright but cool, T shirt weather once again, so at least that made thing better. Leaving Eccelfachan, the next town was Lockerbie. When I looked at my strip maps last night, it appeared the two town where next door to each other, in fact they are a far distance apart. When producing my maps, last Christmas, I'd printed them all and cut them into strips, then laminated them for waterproofing. Somewhere the strip following Eccelfachan, didn't get laminated and is probably somewhere in the spare room as I certainly didn't have it today. Route finding between the two towns was simple enough, straight up the B7076, with M74 on left and main West Coast trainline on the right. Where the map would have come in useful, would have been to settle an issue which was developing as I walked. The distance to Lockerbie was initial signed as 6 miles, some way into the walk the next signpost stated, Eccel 2.75 (the distance I'd walked) and Lock. 3 miles, totalling 5.75 miles. Soon after the next stated, Eccel 3, Lock. 3, back to 6 miles in total, but I'd just walk 1/4 mile and not credited for it. Then, a while later, it was Eccel 4, Lock 2.25. Now, 6.25 miles in total. So looks like the walk total is now 900.25, hope this doesn't happen to often, it ain't good for morale. What was good for morale was the the vision I had in front of me, when leaving Johnstonebridge. There in front of me was a group of a dozen females, in fancy dress, walking for charity. They had only 1/4 mile left, unlike my 350 miles. They certainly brightened my day. A break from the sameness. I'd captured this image as it came towards me on my camera, but as I bury my phone camera deep inside my bag, I couldn't take the picture with it. As all the images on the blog are captured on the phone, I can't upload this shot. You'll have to come to the slide show to see. The walk through Lockerbie, was certainly charged with emotion, thinking back those 25 years when a plane was brought down on the town by terrorists. The 32.8km's was covered by 15.40, which enabled me to watch the second half of the FA Cup final, before completing other regular tasks and watching Dr Who

Friday, 14 May 2010

Day 25 Carlisle to Ecclefechan

Certainly a change in the weather today, yesterday, surprisingly ended up with me burning my head in the sun. There was certainly no chance of that today, being grey all day and actually raining for over half of it. I ended up wondering where the canal was, as it was so wet. So the march into Scotland was a wet affair, but this didn't dampened my spirit when crossing the border at exactly 12.00.00, following all the essential photo's. Well Cumbria and England are now passed and a long walk up the B7076 to Glasgow ahead, hopefully with a bit brighter weather. This road used to be a main A road, but with the M74 now alongside and taking most of the traffic, is now reasonable quite, but cars still travel along it as fast. Prior to leaving England there was one final challenge on the map reading front. I new a new bridge over the River Esk existed, but the maps I had did not show how to access the bridge, playing safe I chose the long way around, one which I could see largely on the maps I had. Only to find out a more direct road exists, so an additional 2 km was added to the day's 34.0km total. On the navigation front, twice today a road has change its number for no reason, Being on the a6 and getting quite attached over the last few days, it suddenly became the a7, at an island at the top end of Carlisle.Why change here? I had crossed lots of islands previously and there had been no road number change, then at this island its the a7. Likewise, the M6 changing into the a74m, although I can't actually say I was on that road. I think I would have noticed if I had of wondered onto it.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Day 24 Great Strickland to Carlisle

Today's 37.5km's along with yesterdays 41.5km's adds to to a total of 79, or in old speak a tad off 50 miles in the two days covering the majority of Cumbria and the climb over Shap. And god do my feet know about it. On the medical side however my shins are much better with 3 trouble, painkiller and cold bath free days behind them. Only a slight twinge, leaving Kendal YHA has been felt, so hopefully that's the last I'll hear from them. Today's walk when planning was the longest, however, others have proved longer, with diversions, there where non of those today. Pinrith was the first major town I had to navigate through, this almost went totally to plan, but I couldn't help the gravitational pull of Greggs and another sausage roll. Penrith has two Greggs, 100 meters from each other, I did just resist the pull from the other one. I think my additional mass from the first sausage roll help me divert and oppose the attraction, or is it I'm not that much of a greedy............ The second diversion, was to an Outdoor Shop which I had discovered last year. I had to buy a new flask, the latest bit of kit to fail me, in the worst possible way. When making a hot chocolate drink this morning, I'd screwed the top on, but over the last few days it hasn't been securing properly. When shaking to mix, the top flew off and contents escaped. All over the floor and down me bag, having done my best to clear the mess, the flask ended up in the bin, where the top went I've no idea. Last night in England before I cross the border tomorrow.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Day 23 cont Shap to Great Strickland

Having typed my blog whilst eating my meal in the pub, I decided that I would send it, as a) I had a signal and b) what else would happen. Well, leaving the pub things were going to being to happen, I should have know this morning when first when I tried to opened a sachet of brown sauce across the top and it opened length ways dumping sauce all over my hands and soon after my sausage ended up on the floor. Today was gonna be a trying day. So 16.30 all was well, I was heading for Thrimby, reckoning I'd be there by 18.00. Well Thrimby isn't a place it's an area along the a6 and Thrimby Farm was not sign posted, so I overshot by 1/2 mile. At the last building ,I knocked and asked, they guess by elimination of it couldn't be any of the oters, so back I went. Yes, I had tried ring, but no answer. So when I was at the house , I rang the bell, no answer, tried again, same. Still not sure whether it was the right place, I rang and listened thro the letter box, yes it was ringing, but no answer. Time was passing. I decided I would wait 20 minutes to 19.00.(They had £10 deposit as well). Seven came, time for plan b, which was develop a plan c for such circumstances. I knew the next village was 2 miles ahead, but no accommodation, but I'd try, if not I'd ring Penrith and see if there was a Travelodge and get a taxi, returning back tomorrow, I could sleep rough or , have a rst and walk to Carlisle overnight. On I walk, its now 19.15, not gonna phone wife yet, might panic her and only one bar power on my phone. Then, a sign, was I seeing right, was it a mirage, was I delirious and I just waffling??? Pub at Great Strickland, great beer and B&B, with a number. Sign ahead says 3/4 mile there. So I phone, please have room. Start with sympathy line, then please have you a room. YES. Off I stride, arriving at 19.45, pint first, before room. 41.1km today, upped by doubling back. Wait till I speak to her, at least the "Queens Hotel" was open. Got to say the Great Strickland is a great place and would highly recommend it. Just to finish off thats for all the messages, both comments and mails and sorry for getting the shop name wrong Simon

Day 23 Kendal to Thrimby

Well today was a day of surprises. When I woke I did knew today was the day when I started some ascent after a flat middle England. Some decisions had to be made, as the nights B&B did not have any eating places near, I would have to fuel up some place beforehand. Choices were not plentiful, infact en route , the choice was Shap. There was a hotel about a mile of the a6, but the 2 mile detour was not appealing. So given Shap was the choice I tried to delay my arrival into Shap until at least the chippy was open, but I do know what's happened to me, even with the ascent I arrived at 15.30. Right between dinner closing and evening opening times. Now Shap and food have bad memories for me and others who did the Wainwright Coast to Coast Walk, having to spend almost the whole night waiting for our order to be delivered and getting into a couple to arguments with the pub management team about the "lack of service", so Shap was kindly remembered. However, 10 years on, my faith has been fully resorted as on entering at 15.15, expecting to have to hang around un necessarily (and in the rain) to opening time, I found the haven that is called the "King's Arms" which serve food throughout the afternoon. And unlike 10 years ago they actually did serve it, I was so full that now the worry was could I actually move after that mass of food? Second suprise was that during my climb to the top of Shap Fell at 420m, I found myself sunbathing, in a field on a rock outcrop. This was at my 11.30 break, were it was that hot in the sun trap that I'd found, knowing I didn't need to rush, I just lay back and enjoyed the rays. Some 200m higher, and 1 hour later I was in the midst of a snow flurry on the top of the summit, only 30 minutes later to be back in the sun. In attempting to take pictures on the summit I had got quite a chill, but quickly thawed out, in the sun.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Rest day 3 Kendal

Having completed my laundry duties on the day I arrived into Kendal, to give the clothes more opportunity to dry, today rest day 3 was going to be a proper rest day. Any thoughts about going into the Lakes were to be dismissed, instead shopping in Kendal, with the knowledge that anything brought would have to be carried. First was a memory stick, to stop me forgetting things, no, I noticed the YHA had a computer with a SD card reader, this way I have backed up my photo's so I am protected against any mishaps which may happen. Next coffee break, Costa's was full so I had a MacCoffee, yuk, but gave me, chance to send some mails. Next some new headphones, yes the pair I had been given weren't the most comfortable, but a life saver these last days, see if these new ones last to the end of the walk? A replacement 2 litre dry bag to replace the one which has been eaten by a spill of my insect repellent, yep you heard that right, no wonder it scares the insects away, what does it do to skin, will find out. Brought a second micro fleece as I often wear the Berghaus one during the day and to go out in on the night as the weather has been reasonable mild. So even I have been smelling myself, never a good sign. The one brought from the Mountain Hardware shop is both light and cheap, always a winning combination, plus had a great chat with the assistant manager about the walk, says he may try the walk himself, just do it! Had a sausage roll from Greggs, my big weakness. Off out on the town tonight, catching a movie and a meal, "Billy no mates hits Kendal". Have posted a couple of photo's from previous days, today. Whilst, backing up my photo' noticed I have taken 500+ since losing my camera. Given I am going back to capture them (+100) and I've got 3.5 weeks to go, I'll have enough for a great slide show (estimate 1500 photo's, including one of the "Queen Hotel" - arrh!!!!). Invites to be sent out on my return. I'll make sure your all not busy that evening, know you won't wanna miss it!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Day 22 Carnforth to Kendal

Today has seen me pass through the half way mark of the walk, in terms of distance. Assuming the walk does turn out to be 900 miles exact (unlikely, but have to assume something) then I'd worked out the exact mileage that was the the half way point. I was hoping that this point would be at least scenic, if not have a bench. The first it just about meet, the second, sadly it didn't. The point will be memorable as it is not far from the M6 junction, to Kendal and Ambleside, I place were I pass quite often en route to the lakes. Sorry lads, your going to be bored of me mentioning that fact everytime we are off for a walking weekend in the Lakes - just warning! Having got to this point, I just took it all in, lay back occupying the whole towpath, and listened to Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars which appropriately was on the MP3, (If I lay here......). Tried phoning my wife to share the news and generally got all "emotional". The remaining distance of today's 31.6km total followed the Lancaster Canal into Kendal. However, the last six miles just followed the canal's old route as there was often little evidence of the canal, apart from a bridge in the middle of a field? And certainly no water. Upon reaching Kendal, I bypassed the YHA, my accommodate for the next 2 nights and 3rd rest day, instead heading for a tea room for cream scones and tea. I was having a half way party on my own. The day or should I say night certainly didn't start that brilliantly, the accommodation I had to suffer was the worst, by far on the walk. I haven't mentioned in detail any accommodation to date. In the last week I have stayed in 2 excellent B&B's, Primrose Cottage at Church Minshull and Little Stubbins, just short of Garstang. Both these places were delightful and the owners could not have made me feel more welcome or done anymore, both made donations and I was even given another pair of headphones having broken the pair from home (4th). Then came Carnforth and the Queen's Hotel, I get angry just typing the name!!!!! I arrived to find it was accommodation linked to a pub, usually ok, but the place was a dive, all the fixture and fittings did not work, were broken etc. The landlady, who introduced herself when I walked in the pub, with her well oiled clientele, showed me the room, saying the tv would need adjusting (liar, it just didn't work). She also declared they were pulling out this week, hence the setting up of a karaoki as I walked in for there farewell party. I dined elsewhere, came back, went to my room with all sorts of noises, most out of tune, voices being broadcast to the world, it was that loud. Upstairs I could not either, watch the last weekend of the football season on the box, sleep due to the noise and the room also faced onto the "light" high street, or even have a cup of tea, NO milk. Around, 23.30 thing quitened down, thank god, I was pulling my hair out by now, or was simulating the act. The last insult was, even thought I made it clear that I required breakfast around 8.00, no one had woken to do it, there was the remnants from the previous nights party food, yuk. I was also to find a female who had probably passed out the night before, in the pub area, I asked her how to get out and discovered the fire exit was my means of escaping this hole. I left what I considered the stay was worth, before finding a suitable replacement breakfast two doors down at the Pit Stop. Here, I brought a snack for the day and filled my flask. A nightmare encounter, best forgot, but unlikely. So I am now ready for my rest day, the canals and the raining canals (yes it did rain this morning) are over until the Caledonia Canal from Fort William. The remainder of England and Cumbria lies ahead. Yes I past it into Cumbria today, however when crossing a motorway bridge I did note the gap between the Lancashire sign on the southbound and Cumbria on the northbound is some 400 meter. So when I was standing between, what county was I in? Is it one of those space/time rips which are appearing all over the place in Dr Who?

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Day 21 Garstang to Carnforth

Soon after leaving Garstang I was exposed to the first view of the Lakeland Fells, a view which was to developed during the remaining distance of the 36.4 km total. Having completed the first 30 or so km's at a good pace along the A6 and Lancaster Canal, I arrived at Hest Bank, at just gone 15.00, the pace was to then slow dramatically. This was intentional, as I switched from walking along the Lancaster Canal, to dropping down onto Morecambe Bay and walking up the coastal path to Carnforth. The sea was out and the vast expanse of the sandy bay, with the scenic backdrop of the lakeland fells was my view for the next 2 hours. This was the first contact with the sea since leaving views of St Micheal Mount on Day 2. The next views of the sea will be across the North Sea, north of Inverness. The need for travelling up the A6 to start the day, was explained in my previous blog, but as I approached Forton, I was so focused on my lh turn to the canal, that I almost missed the sight of the M6 Forton Service Station Tower on my rh side. Upon seeing it, it was instantly recongnisable. This service station is almost exactly 2 hours from home when travelling to the Lakes and an landmark I often look for, to judge my pace. Secondly there is history with the tower. When travelling to the Lakes with friends years ago, our friend was convinced the tower rotated and when we pulled into the services, we all including ours kids went up in the lift, to find not a rotating view platform, but a stationary storage area. So seeing it unexpectedly, made me cuckle to myself. I did receive some bad news today, Justin, who I meet around Bristol Airport, e-mailed me saying he called it quits at Tiverton. I naturaly felt gutted for him, but he seemed to be in reasonable spirits about it, saying he'll probally complete it later, that aside to walk that distance is a "feat" in itself and his 6 year old daughter is right to be proud of him. Nice to hear from you Justin.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

1st of 417

The first mile of the 417 completed to date

Day 20 Chorley to Garstang

A short day today of 30.2km, due to administration issues of booking the B&B's last year. Today's walk was due to be around 34km, but the accommodation where I was due to stay, when I checked prior to the walk didn't recongnise my booking. (blamed it on me booking to early) So a last minute substitute had to be arranged. The only issue was this was 4 km closer, which today is great, but I'll have to make it up tomorrow. So I am already looking for short cuts tomorrow, which will reduce the mileage (howcome you don't say kilometerage?) Staying off the meandering canals for a few miles should help. I had a great walk day today and even with rests arrived at the B&B at 15.15, this being too early, I made my way down to the local hospitable pub (not) and am typing this drinking a pint of Stella. Bar the last 2 miles the walk, it has been on quite major roads, across the River Ribble and through the centre of Preston. I noted numerous speed cameras through Preston, which I'm sure as I passed one I was motoring so fast that I triggered it. Initial I thought that's OK, they can't trace me, no registration on my back. Then panic set in, I have a traceable plate on my rear, that of - Reg. plate of 8erghau5. (berghaus). So I'll have to wait and see. Will work on my defence, including diminished responsibilities or duress, tomorrow. Today's weather according to the forecast was cloudy, possibly wet with strong cold north westerly winds. It was a bit nippy to start with but ended up in T shirt from 11.00 and applying sun cream as it was that warm. I'll have days like this anyday. Last week I thanked 2 people whom without their support this project would never have gotten past the planning stage, a 'No' from either would have killed the project dead immediately. But to actually undertake this, there are others who also must be thanked to their support. Firstly both my kids, who similar to their mother have given up things for it to happen. Next my work collegues, who are keeping things ticking over at work, Cheers. And, also my brother, who is their on call should I play my "I'm a celebrity get me otta ere card", and Ma & Pa for their support and encouragement. Know what it feels like now to do one of those oscar awards speeches.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Day 19 Warrington to Chorley

I was expecting a pretty uneventful day today and that's exactly what I got. The 36.4km walk to Chorley started on the busy A49 (sorry I got it wrong yesterday). The walk was as much stop/start as yesterday, this time due to the number of busy road junctions with pedestrian lights. The walk was colourful with the number of big superstores and shopping parks, for 2 miles it was almost continuous. I reckon, that from the range of shops, I could have built a house (Wicks and B&Q superstore, furnished it, brought a car and then had a game of 10 pin bowling. Soon after crossing the M56 the views improved with my first sight of the Pennines. These views however, weren't to last, with towns soon taking centre stage. It was as I was entering on of the towns en route that I had a strange feeling. Referring to yesterday's state of pregnancy, I think I had my first craving. I wanted, needed a custard tart. Priority now switched to finding a tart, the first try failed, a general convenience store didn't have the tart that I desired, but informed me that there was a bakery further on in the town. Off I went, finding what I thought was the bakery, but was another convenience store, this time with a bakery attached. After waiting some time for a previous customers breakfast order for an army to be completed, I brought my tart. And what a tart, not your normal 2" diameter tart, but more like 3.5" and almost twice as deep. Down it went. Craving satisfied, for now anyway, what's going to happen when I hit the remote areas of Scotland? Today have have contact with two separate groups undertaking the adventure on bikes. In the B&B there was a supported group of lads cycle down from JOG, hoping to do it in 9 days, good luck lads. The second was a couple, travelling slower, who I spoke to when satisfying my craving. Later on in the day I was back on the canals, this time the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, I started by climbing 16 locks, which for some reason I thought I was going to descended. I am neither going to Leeds or Liverpool, but this provides a good off road option to Chorley. By the time I was on the canal the skies had brightened, from the mornings darkness and I was to have a rain free day. This goes against the trend of raining on the canals, but last time I walked this canal, doing the Thirlmere Way, I got soaked, not 5 miles away from where I ended today, walking to Abby Village. It was on the canal, dispite stating previous that you don't see the changes in county's on the canals like you do on the road that I came across the "Lancashire" sign. However, this was miles aways from where the map said it was suppose to be? One week on from "13", I am still struggling with a lingering pain in the lh shin, but my thoughts today have reflected on that walk into Worcester and the pain, hopefully its the last of that!!!!!! For the record, when I look back on this in the future, there was a general election yesterday and apart from being a hung parliament I haven't a clue about the details, who got what etc... But I do know I'm walking to Garstang tomorrow and really enjoying myself, that's not to say its not hard or challenging, but its just great, and anyone out there who has thought about doing this, should, its a buzz. Finally, thanks for those who continue to help me with their comments, mails and text.

Day 18 Church Minshull to Warrington

Mileage for today was 32.3km

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Day 18 Church Minshull to Warrington

Day 18 has seen my crossing the Manchester Ship Canal and into the centre of Warrington. Gone are those tranquil days of the canal, in exchange for the most lethal road to date. The B5074 has no pavement and is a windy race track, added to which often it has steep sided fences with no verge to get clear of the cars, here you just mould yourself to the shape of the vegetation, difficult when your pregnant with a full term rucksack. Doing my best to be safe, switching sides of the road and waving pass convoys of cars I was making slow progress, this was so until Wixsford, were I opted for a diversion, that I had previously identified. Going through the town firstly, in full Gore Tex battle dress, hi vis rucksack cover and umbrella, as at this point the skies were black and the rain falling. Several looks were given by locals at this strange alien creature that has descended upon their town. I'm sure a posse was forming to run me out of town, but I beat that track before being forced. The next part of the walk was delightful, in countryside, along a farm track, peace, it was great and I knew that would be in short supply today, as I had the A48 to look forward to. Then all of a sudden, for at least a km, my peace and personal space was invaded, by large black flies (horse flies) with drinking straw like black funnels, descending from them. These flies, the size of a penny are not new to me, I have encountered them before, but what was different was the number of them. Hundreds. No thousands. Well loads. They weren't that interested in me, but just got in the way, then it dawned on me. There was I dressed in black, with my waterproof jacket and trousers, additionally, I had the one black walking poles protruding from me, but sadly no wings, otherwise I could fly to John O'Groats. But could they be mistaking me for their King (bees have big queen's - no jokes or comments please!) In silhouette, (I've heard they've bad eyesight) they could have been mistaken. Anyway after swallowing some, and having others enter nose, ears etc. I decided they were up there with dogs and cows, as least preferred creatures. Look closely at the photo and you can see "the fly" The afternoons walk up the A48, all on pavement was lots safer, that the mornings close encounter with traffic. I gradually knocked one feature off after another, all making my arrival to Warrington closer. Past went the M58, on trips to Halewood, this last year I had looked up at this junction, thinking I'll be walking around that junction, and here I was. In the future it'll be, "I walked around that island". Psychologically, this was a major point on the walk, certainly not the prettiest, but significant all the same. Other landmarks closer to the centre was the Trent and Mersey Canal, which I have previously walked down and then crossing the Mancester Ship Canal. Tomorrow, first thing it'll be the Mersey itself. Welcome the North West.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Day 17 Market Drayton to Church Minshull

Early finish today, even with stopping at a Nantwich pub for lunch, as there are no pubs open close to the B&B. It was a shorter day by recent standards being only 29.5km's, my shins thanking me for that. So a nice "legs up" rest tonight, not even the walk to the pub to do. Todays walk was along the canal for the first 14km, where the grey skies soon turned into a mist and fine drizzle. Here the umbrella was not so good as the wet seemed to float around, soaking me. The weather then dried up and along with the real oak fire in the pub I soon dried out. In Cheshire now (I think) as once again haven't seen a county sign, but the cars seem to be big and expensive, must be all those north west football players. During this afternoon road walk I saw all the new Bentley's being road tested from the factory on test plates. Has 3 pack hounds harass me this morning, the Jack Russell's all took turns to have a go. So when I came level with the owner who was more bothered gettin his boat thro a lock, with the 3 dogs still barking then retreating, I had a right go at the owner. Standard response came back, "there not normally like that". Well it made me feel better. Decided it must be the Jack gene, as I'm a Russell and I'm normally, apart from today quitely mannered.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Day 16 Brewood to Market Drayton

Today have ended up after 36.3km's in Shropshire, I think there was a few county crossings made en route, noticing the dashed lines on the map and later in the afternoon walking along the border itself. The treat of the bull terror has now gone, mind you I had a scary moment this morning. Having just got on the canal at Brewood, I noticed a bull terror and owner walking towards me, the dog glady was good as gold, but what was more scary was the look of the owner, a real " Enid Sharples" (sorry younger viewers, you won't know who she was - off corrie) look alike, the face of dog and owner were so similar, it was only cause she was walking on two legs that I told the difference. I did have a collie (I think) come legging it off a barge to have a go. Now I'm in Shropshire the treat has changed to the "Muller" cows, you've seen the adverts I'm sure. (How the cows milk in Shropshire is used in the making of "Muller corner yoghurts"). The cows in fields which border the canal can sure stare, one even got half way across a bridge to have a good look at me. What I can't understand being here in Shropshire is, I recently went through Gloucestershire, with Gloucester, Worcestershire, with Worcester, Staffordshire, with Stafford, but were the hell is Shorp, I've searched my map, but I can't find it. Help, anyone??? am I missing something? The walk today, with the exclusion of, the towns at either end, was along the Shropshire Canal. Whilst I love walking canals, due to the ease of navigation and usually quite level, they can be a bit "samely". So this is where I start looking for thing to interest me, today's were looking for interesting boat names and making my own words up to songs. On the Shropshire Canal there are mile markers all the way which, initially are good for pacing the miles, at the end just seemed to be spaced further apart. One other memory of today happened this morning, in the bathroom. Whilst at home this weekend, I had refilled my shower gel bottle, spilling most of it down the sides. So my toothbrush had become contaminated with fragented gel. When mixed with mint toothpaste, this morning I was having all sorts of weird taste sensations, ending in blowing blue tinted, minty bubbles. Everything has been washed so no repeat occurs tomorrow. Lh shin still moaning, so still on the Ibo's and 15 min cold baths, Ouch!!!!! And, a walk along the canal, with no, repeat, no rain