We spent barely five minutes sitting on the bench looking down at the water meadows, stretching, drinking and eating, but we felt revived when we set off again. Along the lane, on our way to the church, we passed the old rectory that gives its name to the lane between it and the High Street. Almost every building in Twyford seems to be old and quaint with moss covered walls and this one is no exception.
With a mixture of excitement and fear I set off along the path beside the church. Looking at the map I’d discovered it had a name, Berry Lane, so I figured it must be well used. Hopefully this would mean I didn’t get hopelessly lost or find the way blocked somewhere ahead and have to turn back. The map suggested the path split in two somewhere, with one end coming out in Shawford Road, not far from the Bridge Pub, and the other leading to Compton Lock. Of course, maps can be deceptive but I was hoping I’d be able to use this path as part of my twenty mile walk with Kim.
As we went through the kissing gate onto the unknown trail I couldn’t help thinking about the rule of threes. So far today there had been two, luckily fairly minor, disasters. Theses things come in threes though, and I was breaking my own rule never to take an untried path in the middle of a long walk. It felt like a recipe for disaster but, as mother would have said, rules are like pie crusts, made to be broken.
This morning began with an early drive to the airport to drop Commando and Rob off. They were catching a train, not a plane, heading for Winchester and a summer social run with a small group of Hamwic Harriers. Kim and I would be conquering a few hills around Mansbridge while we waited for them to come back. It all sounded great, apart from the fact it was raining again.
Sixteen miles isn’t an easy distance to walk, at least not for most normal mortals. It’s the point when everything starts to feel tough and muscles start to protest. Knowing this, I’d spent some time planning an interesting route with some really pretty bits in the second half to take Kim’s mind off her aching legs and feet. In fact I was looking forward to it because I’d found an unexplored footpath that I was fairly sure would take us onto the Itchen Navigation at Kiln Lane. It was one I’d passed many times but had never actually walked.
It was still raining when we left the cafe but we both agreed to keep going. We really couldn’t get much wetter after all. We passed the pretty little cottages of Shawford and chose the road beside the railway viaduct rather than the overgrown trail. Barely able to see through the rain, I left the road a little too early and took the narrow muddy trail rather than going through the gate a little further on. It wasn’t a major problem and added zero distance but it showed how easy it is to become confused in bad weather.
Today was the first chance Kim and I had for a proper long walk since our soggy attempt at twelve miles on the Thunder Run course. Of course we’d both been squeezing in shorter walks as and when we could but, if we were going to get through the Clarendon Marathon in under eight hours, we really needed to get going with the long miles. The plan for today was to catch a train to Winchester and walk back home. All in all it should be about fourteen miles, give or take.
We were approaching the final segment of the Itchen Navigation and had around six miles left to walk. Despite the trail being more overgrown than I’ve ever seen it, bank breaches where they have never been before and a far warmer day than the weather forecast had led us to believe, we had made fairly good time. We’d set off from Winchester Station at around ten o’clock and it was now ten to two. Ok, so four hours to walk around seven miles is positively tortoise like but, taking into account stops and the terrain, I thought we’d done pretty well. Continue reading We thought it was all over…
We’d made it to Kiln Lane without getting stung, which felt a little like a miracle. We’d got across three bank breaches, one that had left me with wet feet, and had climbed over one fallen tree. According to Commando, there was at least one more fallen tree and, possibly, one more bad bank breach somewhere along the eight and a half miles between Kiln Lane and home. If I was a betting woman, I’d have put my money on it being on the next stretch of towpath. Continue reading Alpacas, ostriches and surprisingly easy walking
Shortly after we got going again we passed the first houses of Shawford, with their huge green gardens sloping down towards the river. These were closely followed by a triangular Navigation marker telling us it was nine miles to Northam Wharf, and the bridge over Shawford Road. Those nine miles are a moot point. Mapping the walk, it’s nine and a quarter miles, give or take, to Cobden Bridge. Northam Wharf is ten and a half miles. Perhaps these measurements are by barge? Continue reading Once more into the breach