Archive for January 2012

And we’re off ! (Well we will be on March 1st)   1 comment

Goodbye work, hello new life !!

I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘Journey through Britain’ about a guy’s walk from Lands End to John O’Groats in the 70’s (John Hillaby). On the first page he relates a conversation with a gentleman he meets after a week or so of starting out. It goes along the lines of :

” ‘Where’ve you come from ?’ he asked. I said I had walked from Bristol. He looked adequately surprised, Had I started from Bristol ? ‘No’, I said and told him I had walked from Cornwall, feeling rather pleased with myself, ‘From Cornwall ? he said ‘Do you mean you’ve walked all the way here ?’. I nodded. Shaking his head sadly, he said ‘Then all I can say is it’s a pity you couldn’t be doing something useful.’

Just about sums it up really 🙂

Everybody says ‘Farndon to Southampton………. why ?’ so here’s the answer if I haven’t already told you.  I’ve been wanting to walk from home to Southampton for the last 10 years or so because we have been driving down there at least once or twice a year since approx 1974 to see a couple of my best friends from school, Ian and Sue Crowther, who moved down there to work for the Ordnance Survey when they were the best mapping company in the world, maybe they still are, and I’ve thought for a while now ‘this is a horrible car journey, I’m going to have to walk it one day’. As the thought of finishing work early slowly turned from a dream to reality I thought this would be a wonderful form of transition from a working life to a non-working life and so, after a lot of planning, headaches and tearing out of hair, here we are. (If anybody ever says ‘the planning is all part of the enjoyment again…………). Purely my dream at the time but after a bit of persuasion, not as much as I thought it would take, Helen is going to walk it with me, which is going to make it far better than a solo trip would ever have been.

By the way, just coming back to the above conversation, if you want to help make the walk ‘useful’ and you’re enjoying our blog then please feel free to visit our ‘Just Giving‘ page and make a small donation to Nightingale House Hospice

Complete Route

We are able to do the walk completely on long distance  footpaths and we used the wonderful Harvey’s Long Distance Path Chart to work out the initial route, followed by Memory Map to finalise the details.

During the walk we will be utilising  Marches Way, The Shropshire Way, about 55 miles, Offas Dyke for about 50 miles, Wye Valley Walk, Gloucestershire Way, Cotswold Way, for about 60 miles, Avon walkway, Kennet & Avon Canal, White Horse Trail, Wessex Ridgeway, Monarchs Way and finally the Test Way into Southampton.

Farndon to Malpas (Hampton Heath) 10.7 miles

Farndon to Malpas

Well, day one has come at last and we couldn’t have picked our weather any better. It’s been gorgeous and the sun has shone down on us all day. The buds are starting to open on the trees and the daffodils are just starting to come into flower and the snowdrops are still in full bloom, who could ask for more. A fairly easy day today, all flat using a combination of the Marches Way and Bishop Bennets Way. A little bit further that anticipated being 10.7 mls instead of 9.5, which Helen did manage to bring to my attention……… The only downside to the day was the fact that we had planned a short stop at the Bull Inn in Shocklach only to find that it had been bought out and was having it’s new opening day tomorrow. They couldn’t apologise enough that we had got there a day too early though and let us sit and have lunch on a bench in their beer garden to make up for it :-). Arrived at the B&B about 17:00, showered and then took a very short walk to the Fort of India at Hampton Heath roundabout. As always at an Indian, ate far too much, but we do feel a little like we’ve earned it at least. Looking forward to a yummy cooked breakfast tomorrow.

Snowdrops en-route















Day 2 Malpas to Whitchurch 8 mls, 462 ft Ascent

Malpas to Whitchurch

Positively chilly first thing but fortified with a good cooked breakfast I set off on my own today as Helen is only planning to do every other day during the first week to get her into the swing. Good  really because it gives me a chance to walk some days at my own speed. Must mention that we spotted our B&B last night was next to a cheese producers and a sign on the shop door informed us that they were open for sales from 11:30 to 12:00……….on Friday’s only. Eat your hearts out Tesco’s. Actually, working there sounds like my type of job :-). You can’t beat Cheshire as a typical countryside when it’s at it’s best and as I was walking across fields with birds singing, cocks crowing and cows bellowing in the distance it just struck me as the archetype country ‘scene’. Came across a lovely little chapel after a few miles totally in the middle of nowhere, just surrounded by fields and no roads. It didn’t surprise me to find it was called ‘St Chads, alone in the fields’. It was back to shedding the fleece and walking in a T shirt by 10:00, amazing to think that 2 weeks ago in the Berwyns my drinking tube was freezing up as I was walking. Said goodbye to the Marches Way today and joined up, for a brief flirtation,with the Sandstone Trail along the canal and then into Whitchurch by 13:00, leaving plenty of time for a cappuccino and sticky bun for a completely unhealthy lunch. Booked in the hotel early and then after a nice long bath popped back out to Whitchurch for evening meal.

St Chads, alone in the fields

Goodbye, Marches Way


Posted January 20, 2012 by derektruby in Travel