Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Romsey   6 comments

Slight change to plans and we’ve had two days in Romsey, well one in Romsey and one at Mottisfont Abbey to be precise.

Caught the bus into Romsey on the Saturday and we had a bit of a wander whilst we dodged the heavy rain. At least Caffe Nero’s was dry (although not the best Caffe Nero’s I’ve been in)  and it gave us chance to “read the form” for the Grand National. After placing our bets we went in search of somewhere to park the motorhome up for the final day’s walking – you’d think the Tourist Information Centre would be a good place to start but they were pretty useless so we spent a good while touring Romsey’s car parks, at least we now have an in depth knowledge of the best car parks in town 🙂

Called in The Olive Tree for lunch and then Ian and Sue came out to join us from Southampton, (mention pub and they’re there like a shot), and then we all went for a whistle stop tour of Romsey Abbey before having to visit another public bar to watch the Grand National. Helen somehow managed to make £10 profit on her bets which should go some way towards buying a new set of plasters for her sore feet.

Sunday saw us at Mottisfont Abbey on a lovely sunny but freezing cold morning. It was fairly interesting but we’ve been to better and it was just as well there was an art exhibition on upstairs that whiled away a fair amount of time. This area is known for it’s watercress and the NT had made a pea, pear & watercress soup which succeeded in warming us up a touch.  We got back to the van quite early but at least this gave us time to get the van nice and warm and cosy and get some reading and relaxation done in preparation for the final 9 miles or so tomorrow.

Can’t believe it’s all going to finish tomorrow and that we’ve been walking for 6 weeks 🙂


Romsey Abbey


Plaque by the River Test in Romsey

Superb horse sculpture at Mottisfont, made entirely out of chicken wire


Mottisfont Abbey




Posted April 15, 2012 by derektruby in Travel

Salisbury   5 comments

Salisbury Cathedral

A free day in Salisbury today, which was probably quite fortuitous as it gave all our wet clothes and rucksacks from yesterday a chance to dry out 🙂

A lovely sunny morning had us having a leisurely muesli breakfast with the van door open before we caught the 10:15 bus into the city. The bus driver made the journey worthwhile when a ‘youf’ got on the bus and stated where he wanted to go to the driver only to receive the response ‘ask me again in English and we’ll see’. Funny to us but the young chap probably didn’t understand what the problem was :-). It was a long journey in as the bus went down every conceivable country lane en-route even needing to turn around at one time when the lanes became to narrow.

Eventually got there, gasping for a coffee. Not being the type to pass up nice comfy looking armchairs and coffee both together in one place we called in a cafe called Nuggs1268 and took full advantage of their free newspapers for an hour or so before wandering around a large market located in the town square. Markets are normally good because along with the normal things that they all seem to sell, there’s often something just a little different and this one didn’t let us down with a stall selling watercress and cheese bread, watercress, cheddar and mushroom pasties and literally anything you could think of that could have watercress in it along with another stall selling wild garlic pesto and local ‘foraged’ mushrooms. We’ve seen that much wild garlic on our journey that we didn’t buy any pesto but we did try a sample and managed to get a rough recipe off him to enable us to try it ourselves.

As luck would have it, our Southampton friends Ian and Sue were travelling back home today after spending Easter up in Chester, so after a quick perusal of the Cathedral exterior we met up and went for a jolly good long (late) lunch in the Cote Brasserie where we exchanged tales of our walk with updates on Chester FC’s glorious season.

They then very kindly gave us a lift back to our van and we parted ways for our last week before meeting up with them at our final destination next weekend. They did let slip also that they probably aren’t going to be in on the 15th when we are due to arrive (we walk 363 miles and they are out……….).

(To be fair they did mention this on the first day we set off 🙂 )

Salisbury shopping

Archway to Cathedral Close

'Statuesque' Cathedral


Posted April 10, 2012 by derektruby in Travel

Hereford 0 miles Ascent 0 (well we did go up a couple of escalators)   1 comment

Bliss, a day off in Hereford, although we didn’t really do it justice as we were both rather tired after the last week or two. Spent the morning catching up on emails, battery charging, laundry, shopping etc and then drove into Hereford for the afternoon. I’ve been to Hereford before, many years ago for a football match and it was good to see that their ground is still the original ground almost slap bang in the town centre. Had a very nice lunch  with some Bulmers cider in the Courtyard arts centre (we badly need something like this in Chester) and then mooched around the town for a while before calling in the Cathedral for a look at the Mappa Mundi. However, we were about 3 minutes too late and the woman shut the door on us. Very tempted to tell her we had walked 140 miles to see this but couldn’t be bothered. If only we had set off at 09:55 on March 1st instead of 10:00. Went to the very posh Green Dragon Hotel instead and had some soothing cappuccinos in their good old fashioned lounge with seats you could sink into whilst Helen thought ‘150 miles, have I really walked all the way to Hereford ?’

Back to the Courtyard for the evening to see a film, Margin Call. It was ok but a bit ordinary for me. Brought back some memories of working for HBOS for Helen though. PS It’s Helen’s Birthday today, for the next couple of weeks at least she is a year older than me :-). Helen would like to pass on her thanks for all the cards and good wishes that she’s received.

Finished off the day with an egg foo yung and chips. Mmmmmm……….

A fellow traveller in Cathedral garden

Old House Museum

Hereford Cathedral

Posted March 21, 2012 by derektruby in Travel

Whitchurch to Wem 12.5mls 287ft, 31.1 miles so far   3 comments

Whitchurch to Wem

It appears that our faithful followers aren’t receiving emails when I update this blog. You’ll have to bear with me as it’s the first time I’ve tried this sort of thing and I’m trying a different method today in the hope that we can sort that one out.

First thing to ask is how many of you spotted my obvious mistake yesterday ? I wasn’t actually in Cheshire, I was in Shropshire, so it was an archetype Shropshire countryside I was blathering on about. (I bet most of you spotted it. I hope you realise I was awake at 04:11 this morning worrying about it 🙂 )

Helen back with us today and it was only supposed to be 10.5 miles but due to a few wrong turns (and some very poor signposting on the Shropshire Way I might add) we ended up doing 12.5 miles instead. All good experience but I’m not entirely sure Helen would concur. Glad to say weather was far better than the BBC had us believe and we got away with just a few short lived showers.

Arrived in Wem about 16:00 to be met by Jill and Mal (and Charlie), a couple of very good friends from my JCB days who, after a quick half of Hobgoblins from the local hostelry, very kindly then gave us a lift back to Whitchurch to collect the van. Stopping in Aston Lodge B&B tonight in Wem just 2 minutes away from the Albion Inn who do a very good nut cutlet indeed.

Boxing Angel spotted in disused garage


We've arrived in Wem, along with our good friends Jill and Mal !

Posted March 3, 2012 by derektruby in Travel

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